May 15, 2015

This Moment In Philly TV Milestones: Happy 50th Birthday To Channel 29

Back on May 16, 1965, Channel 29 began life as an independent station ran under the call letters WIBF. It remained as such until becoming WTAF — which we remember vividly from our misspent youth watching Star Blazers — in 1969 until settling into its current name of WTXF in 1988, one year after it became Philly’s Fox affiliate, a move which seemed destined to fail at the time. (Whither Beans Baxter?) To celebrate this milestone, the Good Day Philadelphia crew held a birthday show today whose inarguable highlight was an episode-closing performance of “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music. Tragically, a video of this defining moment in local TV history as yet to surface online, so for now we are left only with the above image and the knowledge that while channels may change ownership and call letters, Mike Jerrick‘s goofiness is eternal.

The #IVotePhilly Campaign Wants To Give You Prizes For Telling Philly Why You Are Voting

In what may be the saddest Captain Freeshit in America right now, Councilman Bobby Henon has set up a contest giving Philly residents the opportunity to share their thoughts on why they will be voting on Tuesday via a 15-second or less video uploaded to social media with the #IVotePhilly. The various winners (over 25 of them) will win prizes like dinner from Jose Garces, Flyers tickets, a $50 gift certificate to Chickie’s and Pete’s, or, randomly, a day at the gym with Ed Rendell. Good intentioned though this contest may be, it strikes us as very disheartening that a politician has to drum up interest in getting citizens interested in voting by turning the electoral process into a makeshift episode of Hoagiemouth Idol when people should, you know, actually look forward to fulfilling their civic responsibility. Also, oh shit, we sound exactly like our dad right now.

Tech News You Can Use: TransitScreen Comes To Philly

Brandywine Realty Trust & TransitScreen - Media Wall Display

At a press conference this morning, Brandywine Realty Trust unveiled Philly’s first TransitScreen display at their Commerce Square location (with others located in Brandywine properties in the area). The massive LED screens — which share their name with the Washington, D.C./San Francisco technology firm that created them — are real-time aggregators of transportation information in the area, including schedules and ride availability for SEPTA, Uber, Indego, NJ Transit and Amtrak. We realize that you can already get all of this information anywhere, anytime on your phone but shhhh, look how pretty the display is! Ribbing aside, the obvious benefit of this is to provide all possible transportation options easily in one place with hopes of making travel easier and advancing sustainability throughout the city. By looking at the screens, commuters can decide which travel option is best or most convenient for them and then make their journey accordingly. We like this idea, but what we really love here is the Star Trek: The Next Generation aesthetic that the actual TransitScreens have embraced. And yet the teleporter is still not a thing. Bummer.


FYI: Richard Thompson Plays The Keswick On June 18th, Is Still Incredibly Cool

Remember when the word icon actually meant something? Yeah, us neither. But every now and again an act decides to visit Philly and remind us how its done…or at least how it should be. The next of these increasingly rare happenings will be on June 18th when The Richard Thompson Trio plays the Keswick to promote the new album Still. Since his work with Fairport Convention in the 1960s Thompson has consistently moved Zelig-like from one fascinating musical project and genre to the next, bringing his peerless guitar, singing and songwriting skills with him. We don’t know exactly what material from his decades-spanning he’ll be performing next month, but we plan on being there front and center regardless. You just don’t ignore musical royalty when it pops by to visit.

May 14, 2015

This Evening: Talk It Out

>>> We are frantically striving to keep an existential crisis at bay from the realization that Matt Pond PA‘s seminal Several Arrows Later album is 10 years old. Matt and company are back in Philly to play an anniversary show for the album tonight at Union Transfer, and holy shit is this making us feel so very old. Nevertheless, congrats on the milestone guys and, as the cliche goes, where the hell did the time go?

>>> Night Market kicks off its new season tonight on South Street, so if you want to deal with massive crowds and pay way too much for some corn on the cob while an overbearing DJ plays the most basic of beats, have at it!

>>> The First Person Arts: Grand Slam at Underground Arts brings together all of this seasons StorySlam winners for a spoken word battle royale to determine who will be named “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia.” Weird NYC comedy great Dave Hill hosts; featured performers include Jay Butera, Emma Hitchcock and Marjorie Winther. Think of this as a Philly Hunger Games…with lots more awkward personal anecdotes.

>>> As part of their ongoing Sight and Soundtrack series, the Philadelphia Film Society hosts a screening of the immortal This Is Spinal Tap tonight at the Roxy. Hosted by Robert Drake, the night will feature costumes, trivia, and, we’re guessing, considerable Harry Shearer discussion.

>>> But wait, there’s more film! International House is hosting a screening of the ridiculous sexy future flick Sins of the Fleshapoids accompanied by the Lupe Velez biopic Lupe. (Both on 16mm!) Although these may seem to be as disparate as could be, the screenings both low-budget masterpieces have been programmed by Pig Iron Theatre Company as they reflect the spirit of their current production, I Promised Myself To Live Faster.


Recommended Listening: NPR’s Story On The 30th Anniversary Of The MOVE Disaster

1985_move_bombingYesterday was the 30th anniversary of the MOVE fiasco, a day which still continues to resonate in unexpected ways throughout Philadelphia. NPR reporter Gene Demby grew up here, and the terrible memories of that day stuck with him so much that he went to Osage Avenue in search of answers. For those of us who, like Demby, have vivid memories of May 13, 1985, this piece will strike a chord — as will his conclusion that the events of that day make no more sense now then they did three decades ago when the landscape of Philly was suddenly and irrevocably changed in an instant.

You can listen to the piece here.

Captain Freeshit: See The Tallest Man On Earth At The Tower This Saturday!

In support of his just-released album Dark Bird Is Home, Sweden’s The Tallest Man on Earth is playing the Tower Theatre this Saturday. The new effort finds singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson stepping out of his pensive folksy comfort zone a bit by utilizing a full band, and the result sounds like an ostrich removing its head from the sand to peer around at the world and make a conscious choice to deal with things head on. It’s an exciting, visceral listen whose standout track “Sagres” is destined to, like it or not, take Mattson to the next level of fame. (Get ready to hear this one in Starbucks and movie trailers folks). It’s going to be fascinating to see these new songs performed live, and you can join in on the fun as we are giving away three pairs of tickets! To enter to win, email ihopeiwin[at]philebrity[dot]com with “THE DREAMER” 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. Winners will be picked in the morning. Good luck!

Things We Wholeheartedly Endorse: Wildwood’s New Kong Ride

Larson International, Inc.

Having grown up during a time when amusement visionary Fred Mahana‘s unique touch was seen throughout the Wildwood boardwalk and Jersey Shore area (he was one of the minds behind such infamous attractions as the Star Wars ride and Brigantine Castle), we’ve been understandably bummed out by what’s become of the once-great tourist destination. Imagine our surprise and delight then when we received a press release from Morey’s Piers announcing next weekend’s opening of their new Kong attraction. Back in the 1970s and early ’80s, Mahana’s massive King Kong attraction was to Wildwood what the Wanamaker’s Eagle is to Philly. This new version of Kong draws inspiration from its predecessor, paying tribute to the boardwalk’s history while looking to the future with a contemporary ride that takes visitors 26 feet into the air for an up close and personal encounter with the amazing ape. As tourist traps go, this one feels rather special to us. Or maybe it’s just the nostalgia of tram cars and funnel cakes clouding our judgment. Still you guys, summer!

NeNe Leakes’ Visit To Atlantic City Has Us Dreaming Of A Real Housewives-Themed Makeover For The Entire Town

NeneReal Housewives of Atlanta force of nature NeNe Leakes was in Atlantic City yesterday visiting The Playground entertainment complex at Caesars that is currently being developed by Bart Blatstein. The visit is spurring rumors that she is looking to open a store there, and the photo seen here featuring Leakes alongside of Tower Investments COO Brandon Dixon, Blatstein and Media Relations Executive Lisa Johnson seemingly gives this some creditability. But we think Leakes and AC can do better than just merely opening a shop. We think nothing short of a Real Housewives-themed casino where employees spontaneously throw cocktails at each other (Skinnygirl, natch) and dealers stop the games to jump at patrons they think are throwing shade at them will do. And Andy Cohen for mayor? Sure, why not.

City Paper’s Resident “Awkward Guy” Went To Wizard World And Had A Much Weirder Time There Than Expected

City Paper sent their “awkward guy” Bryan Bierman to Wizard World, last weekend’s celebration of comics and commerce which was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. (Thus explaining why there were so many Batmen in Reading Terminal Market on Saturday). As with his previous videos, this latest installment finds the young reporter thrust into an uncomfortable surrounding in order to incite laughter. But this time, City Paper has flipped the script! Amongst all the cosplayers and, er, vendors selling Adolf Hitler dolls, Bierman seems downright suave. We don’t know what goofy event he’ll cover next, but the anticipation is killing us. This kid is pure gold.

Previously: ICYMI: City Paper’s Awkward Reporter Makes Things Awkward At The Flower Show

KYW Newsradio’s Fearmongering Game Is Tight Today

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about. Can someone come over and check out our handshakes to see how limp they are so that we don’t, you know, DIE? And do they even have fake teletype machines in heaven?

This Moment In #PHL2015: NBC 10/Inquirer Poll Finds Kenney In The Lead

NBC 10 partnered with The Inquirer/Daily News/ for an independent poll of 600 Democratic voters on who they would vote for and found that Jim Kenney had a considerable 42% lead. With just a few days until the primary, will any of the other candidates (especially Anthony Hardy Williams) be able to raise their standing? That remains to be seen, but as former mayoral candidate Ken Trujillo points out above, at this point in the game recovering lost ground might be impossible. Meanwhile, over at CityLab, Daniel Denvir examines how Kenney’s campaign “might scramble the racial math that so often determines Philly elections.” How, if at all, will Williams and Lynne Abraham’s campaigns shift in light of this news? We haven’t much time left with this primary, so the answers to this question should become apparent fairly immediately.

UPDATE: Darrell Clarke just voiced his endorsement of Kenney.

May 13, 2015

This Evening: Another Time, Another Place

>>> Hailing from Beijing, China, Chui Wan are a psychedelic rock four-piece group. At least that’s what their press release tell us. In actuality, they are a unique entity of sight and sound, time and space whose music transcends description. They won’t be pigeonholed by your labels, but, as tonight’s show at Ortlieb’s will demonstrate, they will entertain the hell out of you. Also on the bill are Philly’s Light Heat and Minneapolis’ Flavor Crystals, two acts that perfectly compliment the heady atmosphere of the main event.

>>> Technically there’s only two of them, but the so-called Night of 1000 Adams at Tin Angel brings together longtime Philebrity contributor/musical great Adam Brodsky, “Texas troubadour” Adam Carroll and Canadian singer Chris Carroll for some folksy and fantastic forever jams that are as welcome and breezy as the winds blowing outside right now.

>>> Elsewhere in the vast musical landscape that is Philadelphia tonight, Sam Prekop of The Sea And Cake plays a solo show at Milkboy, focusing on the synth-heavy material of his new album The Republic.

>>> Punk Rock Karaoke at Boot & Saddle will give you the opportunity to dust off your best Johnny Rotten impersonation, so better make it count.

Introducing The Philadelphia Zoo’s Contemplative Gorilla


In a Facebook post promoting their new Gorilla Treeway passageway in the PECO Primate Reserve, the Philadelphia Zoo included the above shot of a gorilla who appears to be living the kind of rich inner life that some of us can only dream of. We’re dying to know what he (or she) is thinking about here. Where that banana went? What Toll Brothers plans for Festival Pier are? How joyous would it be to take to the sky in the WPVI Zoo Balloon? We will never know the answers to these most haunting of questions. Also, is anyone getting a real Planet of the Apes vibe from this pic? Dude is intense, and we love it.

Bike To Work Day Returns To Philly Streets This Friday


On Friday, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia will be celebrating its 20th Bike to Work Day with its biggest event ever. Each year this two-wheeled party helps raise awareness of the benefits of using bikes to commute to work — something that is even easier this time around thanks to the Indego bike share program. Which means your excuses about wanting to ride but not having any easy access to a bike are no longer valid. Next! Anyone interested in participating can register at the Bike to Work Day website, and on Friday morning they can take advantage of four “energizing stations” located throughout the city that will feature free snacks/merch from sponsors like Kind Bars and the aforementioned Indego, or they can just learn about the event by hitting the press conference in Love Park at 9:15. In the afternoon, there will be celebratory community events at two separate locations before the event wraps up at Yard’s Brewing Company with a Happy Hour (don’t drink and bike please) that will double as the First Annual Bike To Work Day Awards ceremony. As this whole day proves, Philly is a lock for Most Improved Biking City.

Why Yes, We Would Like To See A Vintage Action News Report From Tower Records In The Northeast

We usually reserve these type of posts for the Noontime Nuggetz slot, but this one is too good to hold off on until tomorrow. You see kids, back in the 1990s Tower Records was a popular chain store — kind of like Empire Records but with considerably less Liv Tyler. A popular fad during this most interminable of decades was the tribute CD in which a bunch of contemporary musicians would pay tribute to everyone from Roky Erickson to The Eagles. Because of its reliance on so-called “alternative” acts like Sonic Youth and, HAW HAW, 4 Non Blondes, the 1994 If I Were a Carpenter tribute to The Carpenters was especially popular. That said, we have no earthly idea why Action News decided to dedicate two minutes of their newscast to its release. An even greater mystery is why they filmed this remote in Tower’s Northeast Philly store. This thing never approaches Cocteau Twins Fever-levels of insanity, but you’ll appreciate the insights from the Ghosts Of Hoagiemouth Past as well as Philly music scene staple/Dobbs documentarian George Manney nonetheless. Oh God, Tower Records. If only we could know your embrace one more time.

Like A Grateful Dead Concert, The Saga Of Legalizing Marijuana In PA Keeps Dragging On And On

SpicoliTime for some good news bad news. First, the good! The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a medical marijuana bill. Unfortunately, the grey cloud that has attached itself to this silver lining is the fact that it still has to go to the House of Representatives, where it faces an uncertain future to say the least. Annnnd with that we have officially harshed your buzz. Sorry. Pittsburgh’s WTAE has more details:

State senators voted Tuesday for a second time to send legislation to legalize medical marijuana to the House of Representatives, where the GOP majority has held hearings but otherwise given no certain signs of support.

The 40-7 vote came seven months after senators passed an earlier bill that died in the House. Every Democrat voted yes, as did 21 of 28 Republicans, including Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat who took office in January, supports the legalization of medical marijuana. However, leaders of the House Republican majority are not saying whether they support the Senate’s approach or if they will advance their own legislation.

As for the bill itself, the WTAE article tells us how it has changed from its doomed predecessor:

The newest bill includes tighter controls to track transactions and an expanded list of eligible medical conditions, including diabetes, Crohn’s disease and chronic or intractable pain that has proven otherwise untreatable. It also expands the methods of delivery to include vaporization along with oils, pills, liquids, gels, ointments and tinctures. Edible products and smoking it would not be allowed.

No pot brownies then? Bummer. Related: Phish is back at the Mann on August 12th.

Remembering MOVE: 30 Years Later

Impossible as it may seem, it’s been three decades since Philadelphia experienced the senseless and shameful events of May 13, 1985 — a day in which the PPD dropped a bomb on the bunker of a home that served as the headquarters for the radical group MOVE. The bombing resulted in the deaths of 11 people and the destruction by fire of 65 homes on Osage Avenue, although many would argue that the area never truly recovered. For those of you who weren’t around when this happened, it was a stunning, unfathomable event that most Philadelphians helplessly watched on TV as the tragedy unfolded. To commemorate the anniversary, MOVE survivor Ramona Africa is currently overseeing a daylong series of activities, and Philadelphia has updated their comprehensive MOVE archives. Embedded above is the 1986 WHYY documentary The Bombing of Osage Avenue which, along with more recent media like the Let the Fire Burn doc, are time capsules of Philly’s most infamous disaster. Take some time today to re-familiarize yourself with the MOVE saga and the cost it took upon both sides of the conflict and the city as a whole.

Toll Brothers Are One Of The Finalists To Develop Festival Pier

TollIn an exclusive, Philadelphia Business Journal has named the three finalists shortlisted by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation to develop Festival Pier: Virginia’s Jefferson Apartment Group and our area’s Haverford Properties Inc., New York’s RAL Companies, and, womp womp, Horsham’s own Toll Brothers (and all that that implies). According to the Philadelphia Business Journal piece, an in-house committee at the DRWC will choose a proposal from one of these three outfits, at which time the Festival Pier development plans will be made public and begin to inch their way towards completion. We can’t even begin to imagine what Toll Brothers envisions the future of the waterfront to be. So let us use the parlance of our times to sum up our feelings on this with three simple words — do not want.

Previously: The DRWC Would Like Festival Pier To Be Developed, Please And Thank You

One Liberty Observation Deck To Open In The Fall

Slated to open in the fall, the One Liberty Observation Deck located on the 57th floor of One Liberty Place will provide a stunning panoramic view of our tremendous city and its skyline and architecture. More importantly though, it will bring in a veritable shitload of tourist dollars and help further Philly’s reputation as a world-class destination. (Anything to distance ourselves from the cheesesteak thing really). As fans of observation decks in general, we applaud this development…even if this one will be like catnip for the people of SelfieDelphia®. Handling construction duties are Paris’ Montparnasse 56 Group (the outfit responsible for the 360 Chicago attraction in that city’s John Hancock Center). We’ll have more on this project as it nears completion, at which point we fully expect we’ll be there every time we have a visiting relative in town.