April 21, 2015

Philadelphia-Born Composer Julia Wolfe Wins A Pulitzer Prize In Music

jwDebuting last year at the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the choral work Anthracite Fields chronicled the often-bleak lives of Pennsylvania coal miners. (And you thought “The Downeaster Alexa” was a musical bummer about the working class). In the year since the piece had its world premiere here it has received unanimous praise, culminating in a 2015 Pulitzer Prize win for “For distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the year.” In conversation with NPR, Wolfe — who was born in Philly and raised in Montgomery County before co-founding the Bang on a Can collective in New York City — describes what she hopes listeners take away from Anthracite Fields:

One thing that is really important to me was to honor that life. It’s not like nobody knows the history but it’s not necessarily mainstream history. The politics are very fascinating, the issues about safety and the consideration for the people who are working and what’s involved in it. I really wanted to leave it open for people to think. I didn’t want to hammer them over the head and say, “Listen to this. This is a big political issue.” It really was, “Here’s what happened. Here’s this life and who are we in relationship to that?” We’re them. They’re us. And, basically, these people, working underground, under very dangerous conditions, fueled the nation. That’s fascinating and very important to understand.

Along with a cash prize of $10,000 and the continuing respect of her peers, Wolfe will also receive a lifetime of bragging rights for, you know, winning a Pulitzer. Well done.

UPDATE: Another Philly-related win! Gregory Pardlo‘s Digest wins the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Pardlo is a Philly-born poet whose work has appeared in American Poetry Review, who also published his 2007 book, Totem, and Painted Bride Quarterly (where he has worked as a Contributing Editor).

Noontime Nuggetz: The War On Drugs On The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Wow. Yesterday, The War on Drugs appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to perform “Red Eyes.” Insert OMG LOL here. We were working and missed this, but our mom told us that the performance “had a lot of fun energy” and that “the frontman seems like a really sweet guy.” So there you have it. Congrats guys, you’ve really made it now!

Excessive Whimsy Alert: Secret Cinema To Open For Stephen Merritt’s Union Transfer Gig

MerrittOn Saturday, May 2, Stephin Merritt will appear at Union Transfer with cellist Sam Davol to perform acoustic material from The Magnetic Fields, Future Bible Heroes, The Gothic Archies and The 6ths. The gimmick here is that Merritt will only performing a total of 26 songs from these various projects in alphabetical order. (We are keeping our fingers crossed that “The Dreaming Moon” makes the cut). As if this show already wasn’t precious enough, Jay Schwartz‘s repertory film project The Secret Cinema will open the evening with a screening called Selected Short Subjects. Curated with input from Merritt, the program will include music-related material presented on 16mm film culled from the always impressive Secret Cinema archives. Due to the sheer volume of whimsy that will be on display for this show we have to ask: What’s the over/under on how many people will be riding pennyfarthing bikes to the gig?


Dept. Of Southpaw Grammar: For A Mere $6.9 Million, Cliff Lee’s Rittenhouse Condo Can Be Yours

DaCliffzAttention rich Cliff Lee superfans, yesterday the Phils’ pitcher listed his Rittenhouse Square condo for $6.9 million through Fox & Roach Realtors (who has a jaw-dropping photo gallery of Lee’s three-bedroom, 4,166 square foot digs here and, better still, a virtual tour). What do you get for all those millions? Here’s a breakdown via Fox & Roach:

Exclusive Condominium with Full Floor Residence in the Heart of Historic Rittenhouse Square. Direct Elevator Access to the Most Spectacular Views North, East, West and South! Stunning Living Room, Open Formal Dining Room, Family Room, Large Gourmet Eat-In Kitchen. Large Terrace. Three Spacious Bedroom Suites. The Luxurious Master Suite has Endless Closet Space and an Lux Marble Bathroom. 24hr Concierge, Indoor Pool, Fitness Center, Board Room, Resident’s Garden with a Koi Pond and a Chauffeur Driven Mercedes S-550. Two Automated Garage Parking Spaces.

We came for the spectacular views, but we stayed for the Koi pond. Man, just thinking about living here makes our elbow hurt. We will leave it to WIP to speculate about whether or not this move is a precursor for the veteran pitcher — who has grappled with injuries of late — to announce his retirement. For now, we just want to daydream about having that Rittenhouse view.

Previously: The Way We Live Now: Cliff Lee’s Fart Is A Metaphor For And Answer To Everything In Your World Right Now

FYI: Kelly Writers House Is Hosting An All-Day Reading Of One Hundred Years Of Solitude This Thursday

100yearsGabriel García Márquez‘s compelling — although that may be understating things a bit — 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude will be celebrated on Thursday during a Marathon Reading of the entire book at the Kelly Writers House that will span from 9am to 10:30pm. That’s a lot of ruminating about the cyclical nature of life right there friends, and you can help chronicle the immensely tragic exploits of the Buendía family by signing up for a 10-minute reading slot here. There’s still an assortment of prime spaces available, including the final spot for the magical realism-loving literary glory hounds amongst you. Perhaps the best part of all of this? The organizers of the event also promise “decorations, food, and props all derived from the text.” We’re holding out hope that this means there will be some Red Hots candy there to represent fire ants.


Get Answers About The Answer With Showtime’s New Allen Iverson Documentary

Let’s kick your Tuesday off with some spooooooorrrrrrrtttttssss! On May 16th at 9pm, Showtime will debut the documentary Iverson, chronicling the ups and downs of the one-time Sixers great. The doc originally premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and we’re anxious for the world at large to get reacquainted with Allen’s unique brand of magic…both on and off the court. In fact, we’re so excited we’ve already bought some beer for the screening. Corona of course.

April 20, 2015

Introducing “Beefeaters Anonymous,” Joey Sweeney’s Weeklong #PhillyVegPledge Weblog


The vegetarians and the vegans have the moral high ground now more than ever. But I will spare the niceties about this: No one likes them. Have you ever been in a conversation with a group of chefs about vegans? It is hate magic. Non-carnivores in our society bear the same historical burden of many who have come before whose moral position was correct but whose likability suffered from any number social gaffes, misunderstandings and just plain bad luck. This is regrettable but, in a meat-based society, understandable, too. I mention it because in mere hours, I too will be a vegetarian, however temporarily. I have to have my eyes open to the ways I will be treated. And I have to know where I stand.

At the request of Greenlimbs and the Humane League of Philadelphia, our esteemed editor and publisher is participating in this year’s #PhillyVegPledge. And all week, he’ll be chronicling the experience of eating like a responsible human being over at Phoodie.info. (Hey, remember Phoodie?) Part one is up now here.

The Week Ahead In Comedy: ‘Dam Yankees


“A mellow yellow night of musicomedy fusion” hits Rybrew Thursday night with the debut of “A Night in Amsterdam.” Lighting up the joint: Drew Castellano, Jamie Glasheen, Joe Bell, Michael S. Watkins, Robert Ecks, Sara Belle, Ari Fishbein, Aaron Nevins, Elise Thomson-Hohl, Matt Aukamp, Baby Pleasure, and more. And by “more,” I mean the best 90′s grunge parody band in the city, The Flannel Chucks. Thursday at Rybrew. 7:30. No cover.

Friday night, presented by the 2015 Cinedelphia Film Festival, Baltimore’s Wham City Comedy comes to PhilaMOCA. Featuring Adult Swim “Unedited Footage of a Bear” collaborators Alan Resnick and Robby Rackleff, this night of high comedy also boasts Philadelphia’s New Dreamz and stand-up comedian Chanel Ali. As my favorite New Dreamz character once said, “In Berlin, when someone tells you to take hair out of a bag and rub it on your teeth, you do it.” Friday at 10pm. Tickets available online.

In Manayunk Friday night? See poor behavior in public. You can also you go to “Delinquent Comedy: Support Bad Decisions.” Hosted by “the always predictably drunk” James Mascuilli, the BYO spectacle will feature Troy Moore, Chris Stenta, Joe Moore, and Brian Finnell. Friday at Comedy Club House Manayunk. 9pm. No cover.

Saturday night, a second chance to catch Wham City Comedy as they join ladies’ sketch collective Mani Pedi at Plays & Players. Mani Pedi will be presenting “Karen’s Dream,” with an additional performance of “Mel Buttermensch: A Memorial Concert” by The Wire Mothers. Saturday at Plays & Players. Doors at 10pm. Show at 10:30pm. 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.

Read Philly’s Tough New Legislation Against Al Harrington’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubemen Emporium and Warehouse in Weekapaug, Rhode Island

Wacky Waving Legislation Details (With Text)

The bill is real. The struggle against these things is real. Al Harrington’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubemen Emporium and Warehouse in Weekapaug, Rhode Island, sadly, is not real. To wit: (more…)

54th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Lineup Announced

Hey! The sun just came out, and with it, the lineup for the 54th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival, to be held August 13 -16, 2015, as always near the Old Pool Farm near Schwenksville, PA. This year’s fest has a heavy WXPN involvement as well as lots of Folk Fest faves. The lineup announced today includes:

Arlo Guthrie –Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear – Shakey Graves – Tom Paxton – Cassie & Maggie McDonald – Dave Gunning – El Caribefunk – The HillBenders – Parker Millsap – Irish Mythen – Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – Matt Andersen – Philly Bloco – Selwyn Birchwood – AND MORE TO COME!
Thursday Night Camper’s Only show hosted by David Dye of World Café featuring: Low Cut Connie and Lindi Ortega and more!

Helen Leicht’s Philly Local Showcase Saturday afternoon on the Camp Stage

Kid’s Corner with Kathy O’Connell Saturday in the Lobby Tent our regular friends Gene Shay – Great Groove Band – Dennis Hangey the bagpiper – Give and Take Jugglers

As is noted, more acts will be announced as the Festival draws closer, but as of today, tickets are on sale.

Behold, “Best Song About Philadelphia,” By The Guy Who Sings Songs About Cities & Towns!

There is a man, an incredibly goofy yet savvy man, called Matt Farley. Farley lives outside Boston, and over the last few years, he’s gamed the online music world by releasing 14,000 off-the-cuff novelty songs on Spotify, iTunes, and so on. He records under a variety of names, such as The Very Nice Interesting Singer Man, The Toilet Bowl Cleaners or, as we discovered him, The Guy Who Sings Songs About Cities & Towns. Behold, “Best Song About Philadelphia,” by The Guy Who Sings Songs About Cities & Towns, then. Over a Casio beat and some rudimentary piano, Farley barks out as many Philly cliches as he can remember, and so there is mention of cheesesteaks, there is mention of Rocky, there is mention of booing Santa. It would be infuriating if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s on The Guy Who Sings Songs About Cities & Towns’ full LP, Pennsylvania Songs: PA Exciting, which tackles no less than 92 other PA counties, cities and townships. At that point, one must accept two things: 1. This is the work of a mad genius. To take it in at all is to get a new glimpse on humanity. 2. His Philly song is still better than the new Visit Philly Philly song.

Recommended Reading: Could Al Día & The Rabble Rousers Finally Break The Mummers’ Racist Bloc?


Philly has Mummers, and we all know what they’re like. But Philly also has a Latino version of masquerading paraders called Carnavaleros, who in fact will be celebrating the San Mateo Carnavalero event this Sunday, April 26 at 12:30 p.m. starting at 806 Moyamensing Ave. And this year, there might be a new set of eyes on the Carnavaleros — Mummers.

See, back on New Year’s Day, Al Día News Managing Editor Sabrina Vourvoulias tweeted about the similarities between the Mummers and San Mateo Carnavalero, and began a conversation that should have happened years ago: Why haven’t the two joined forces. Fast forward to last month’s Taller Puertorriqueño “Filadelfia: New Perspectives” exhibit, and the conversation came up again. And this time, the ante was upped:

The participants of “Carnaval en Philly” closing party included Alex Shaw, of Alô Brazil, Jesse Engaard, captain of the Mummer Brigade Rabble Rousers, and Edgar Ramirez, organizer of San Mateo Carnavalero.

It was then and there that Engaard presented “Mumming Forward: A Tradition of Inclusion,” and spoke about the origins of the Mummers parade and its roots in a tradition of inclusion, an aspect that he said has dissipated.

He explained that he recently questioned the loss of inclusion in Mummers tradition, and that he raised an important point to the mummer community.

“When did we stop inviting new immigrants to the Mummers parade? And why do former immigrant communities fail to see the irony in this xenophobia?” Engaard said. “There is a general lack of active outreach coming from existing mummers, lack of transparency from the city, and not many art organizations organizing around the parade.”

He took the opportunity to extend a formal invitation for the Carnavaleros to participate in the iconic parade and said he will do anything in his power to make this happen, “I think you would be welcomed with wide arms,” he said.

Engaard’s remarks, and his promise of support, are important: The Rabble Rousers are a recognized organization within the Mummers Parade and as such, can present ideas. And maybe this is where the rubber meets to the road for the (oft-maligned by us) “Hipster Mummers”: This comes at a time when inclusion of the Carnavaleros could gain real traction. The Mummers Parade’s annual racist gaffes (a charitable term, to be sure) and continued difficulties with funding have brought the parade to its knees. The promise of inclusion in the air around the Carnavaleros could finally foster a new kind of parade that’s more reflective of the city we live in now — as opposed to what the Mummers reflects now, which is more like the city from which people white-flighted to South Jersey decades ago.

[Image: Al Día]

Hillary Schmillary, Let’s Go Ridin’ For Biden!

Oh God, no. Wait: Oh God, YES.

A tidal wave of talk and think pieces and hand-wringing about the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton has really only just begun, and it’s going to last for years to come. But imagine an alternate reality: an America with a better sense of humor, a more pragmatic sense of fuck’em, an America that will up and kiss you full on the mouth if you stare him in the eyes for more than 1.5 seconds. In that America, all of that time and energy is spent talking about Vice President Joe Biden. And oh what fun we’d be having. We already told you that Joe will be in town tomorrow (Tuesday), but for an up-close view on the fun bizarro world I just described, do drop by something called DraftBiden2016.com. It’s not a joke. In fact, it’s quite serious:

Draft Biden 2016 is preparing the groundwork for Biden in the early states of New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Iowa. We are building up an army of volunteers and supporters around the country, ready for Biden when he enters the race. With over 20,000 signatures to our petition, the movement continues to grow for the VP to get in. We’re confident we can return Joe Biden to the Executive branch in 2016.

And yet, it’s not. Or is it? One could argue that Biden is more honest, more in line with a truly progressive agenda, more devil-may-care American than Hillary could ever hope to be. But it is also true as dirt that he doesn’t have a chance in hell, even if he may deserve it more. In place of an inevitable Biden presidency (I giggled just typing the phrase), there is the merch section of DraftBiden2016.com, which brings us the bumper sticker above.

Well, it’s good to have dreams, at any rate.

April 17, 2015

This Weekend: Throw Me The Idol, I’ll Throw You The Whip


>>> The Cinedelphia Film Festival teams up with Geekadelphia to present the greatest fan film in history: Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. This ingenious flick is a shot-for-shot remake of the Steven Spielberg/George Lucas blockbuster that was made on a shoestring budget by some enterprising kids back in the 1980s. They’ll be in attendance tonight, along with an audience that will collectively be trying to forget that Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull happened.

>>> Howlin’ Rain is at Boot & Saddle with Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band and Aye Aye to kick your weekend off with some slow cooking sounds. Tonight is shaping up to be a rainy mess, the type of which April is known for. Because of this, you might just say sod it all and stay in. We encourage you not to, because this bill will make it all worthwhile. Plus seeing Howlin’ Rain in the rain? That’s a gimmie.

>>> We can’t quite get enough of the Cooper’s Dream EP, so we’re kinda psyched about Suburban Living playing at Bourbon & Branch. Lending able support will be Weekender and Worshyper. Look for us, we’ll be the ones freaking out when “Float In Clouds” is played.


>>> As we mentioned earlier, it’s RECORD STORE DAY! We’re still kicking ourselves for never getting that 7″ of Josh Rouse covering Lindsay Buckingham‘s “Trouble,” so the lesson here is get to your store of choice early and don’t hesitate to buy. You’ll regret it later for reals.

>>> Oh hey, Philly Tech Week is underway. To kick things off, Dilworth Plaza will be transformed into a massive arcade with plenty of games from local developers, music from Pixel8ter and DJ Cutman, interactive tech activities a plenty and lots and lots of smart people walking around as if they possessed the brainpower of mere mortals.

>>> Bob Saget is doing two shows at the TLA? See the joke is that you know him for playing milquetoast characters on TV but his standup act is filthy. Got it? Moving on.

>>> Wearing their 90s influence on their (ripped flannel?) sleeve, Kiska plays Milkboy.


>>> The man once said “don’t be pretending about how you feel, don’t be pretending that your love is real,” and that sums up our feelings on this month. April is just a placeholder until spring really kicks in then, poof, we’re right in the summer. But this very moment? We’re stuck dealing with a nagging malaise that makes us feel like we are just going through the motions here. This will pass soon enough, but until it does we might just stay in and alphabetize our regrets again.

>>> Then again, Philadelphia Flea Markets is setting up shop in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field, so maybe we will go there and look to fill the hole in our soul with other people’s things.

Film Sweat: Monkeys Monkeys Ted And Alice

RECOMMENDED: Monkey Kingdom is a Tina Fey-narrated documentary from Disney that is the perfect cinematic time-out to cherish before the summer movies start kicking in any week now and drown out your senses with their crash boom bangyness. You know the drill here, this will be a beautifully shot slice of animal life that will make you think that maybe National Geographic isn’t a boring read after all before its probable third act monkey death affirms your own life and sends you back into the world feeling a bit better about things in general before you immediately retreat into the prison of self-doubt and disappointment that is your own mind. Hakuna matata everyone!

: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is more fatsploitation nonsense for the Wal-Mart demographic featuring comedy vacuum Kevin James returning to his breakout film role, HAW HAW; Unfriended is some harmless horror fluff mirroring our vapid Facebook age; Child 44 a dramatic thriller set in 1950s Russia starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Gary Oldman that we think looks pretty rad and might check out despite the bleh reviews; True Story is a Jonah Hill/James Franco joint based on the memoir by New York Times reporter Michael Finkel that we want to see on an intellectual level but likely won’t because every time we think about it the Nick Heyward lyric about everybody being young and far too serious comes to mind; Cloud of Sils Maria reminds us that, holy shit, Kristen Stewart can actually be really good in a flick about an actress who takes part in a revival of the play that made her career and the emotional ghosts she finds there. With Juliette Binoche, Chloë Grace Moretz; and Black Souls is an Italian drama chronicling how the family ties that bind can also strangle. Fun!

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.

R.I.P. Pattern Is Movement

Sad news for fans of Philly’s delightfully bearded Pattern Is Movement, the terrifically weird pop duo are calling it a day. The band broke the news earlier today via their Facebook page:

Its with a heavy but joyful heart that we let you know Pattern is Movement will say goodbye after 13 years with a June tour. We want to thank you all for all the love and support throughout these years.

Group members Chris Ward and Andrew Thiboldeaux also announced a farewell tour that will fittingly conclude on June 20th at a Johnny Brenda’s show that will find the guys accompanied by Norwegian Arms, Dream Safari and, most likely, the best wishes of a grateful city.

Dept. Of Midnight Train Going Anywhere: William Ciancaglini’s Wonderfully Goofy Campaign Ad

Proving yet again that there’s a fine line between Tim & Eric-style absurdity and local politics, the above video for South Philly defense lawyer William Ciancaglini‘s campaign to become a Court of Common Pleas Judge is something of a minor miracle. There’s a lot to obsess about here, from the regal instrumental version of “Don’t Stop Believin’” to the unexpected Nancy Grace cameo. Our favorite part? The magnificent bit of legal-related acting that jumps off at the 54-second mark, which easily rivals Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on its best day. (The Daily News reveals the hows and why’s of this mindbender here). Regardless of what his chances may be, we absolutely admire Ciancaglini’s commitment to crafting the most memorable campaign ad of the political season. Thank you William, it was really something.

Some Of This Year’s Mad Decent Block Party Performers Have Been Announced And They Are Mad, Decent

On August 6th and 7th, the Mad Decent Block Party returns to Festival Pier for another raucous journey into the land of sweet summer vibes and sweaty dance moves. The full lineup has yet to be revealed, but we do know that the above names will be involved, as well as Giraffage, Dirty South Joe, Swizzymack, Nadus, Jauz and Jack Ü. Or if this ain’t your thing, just skip it and stay home. Liberty and free-will baby, that’s what it’s all about!

Noontime Nuggetz: There’s That News Van Again!

In a way, local commercials have destroyed our minds. Just as we can’t respond to anyone asking where everyone has gone without saying “to Betsons!” like some Pavlovian asshole, we cannot see any 6ABC vehicle without referencing the above ad mentally to ourselves. Sometimes we envision our future as a variation on the video for Elvis Costello‘s “Veronica” with us alone in our mind somewhere as flashbacks to life’s most notable events are replaced by the Frosty Acres jingle and Jim O’Brien memories. Spend any considerable amount of time here, and this will happen to you as well. Trust us, we know of what we speak.

FYI: Joe Biden Visits Philly This Tuesday

joebidenVeep alert! We’ve just learned that Vice President Biden will be in Philly at PECO on Tuesday along with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz to discuss “energy issues”. (Full details are still forthcoming as to what exactly this is all about, so stay tuned). Obviously we’ll cover this when it happens, but part of us is bummed that this couldn’t be scheduled later next week after Indego launches. Admit it, seeing Joe and Mayor Nutter biking around town like BFFs would be just the April pick me up you could use right about now. Meanwhile, you can feel free to ponder Biden’s political future along with CNN here.