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contents Music Issue starts on p. 11

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naked

the thebellcurve

city

CP’s Quality-o-Life-o-Meter

[ - 2]

The FBI arrests 10 members of the Ironworkers Local 401 union chapter on racketeering charges. Unfortunately, no jail can hold them.

[ + 1] Jeopardy winner/IBM supercomputer

Watson is currently in Camden, being used by a company attempting to aggregate information on the human genome. “Thank you for plugging me in — oh God. Oh no. Has there been a war? Or an earthquake?”

[ - 1]

Twelve people are injured in one day during two separate crashes on the 84 bus route. A lot more passengers would have been injured were it not for SEPTA’s “Just Whiz Right by the Bus Stop” winter tradition.

[0]

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says that concerns about his company purchasing Time Warner Cable are unfounded, because of cable’s competition coming from satellite TV. “Granted, our satellite-blocking skyscrapers should remedy the situation a bit.”

[ - 2]

A pileup involving 50 to 100 cars clogs the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Valentine’s Day. “It was more of a cuddle-up,” says a rumpled-up Smart car lying on its back with its hatchback flung wide and its doors akimbo.

[ + 2] Former Phillies Matt Stairs and Jamie Moyer will join the team’s broadcast team this season. “We’ve already worked out our responsibilities,” says Moyer. “Matt will call one at-bat in the eighth and I’ll do the rest plus a couple hours extra, whether anybody’s watching me or not.”

[0]

Mayor Nutter says he hopes Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner is approved. “And I also hope Brian Roberts enjoys my demo reel for MC Nutt-Nutt & the Ol’ School Rap Crew.”

[0]

Several local organizations unveil a new slogan for the city: “P-H-L: Here for the Making.” This is an interesting choice because it doesn’t mean anything no matter how long you think about it.

This week’s total: -2 | Last week’s total: +1 6 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

EVAN M. LOPEZ

[ legalization ]

END THE WAR ON WEED? Jim Kenney would like Philly to stop busting people for small amounts of pot. Law-enforcement officials disagree. By Daniel Denvir

J

im Kenney is an at-large City Councilman, lifelong South Philadelphian, mummer and son of a firefighter. He’s also the city’s highest-ranking advocate for legalizing marijuana. Kenney has introduced legislation directing police to stop making arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana and imagines a future in which pot grown on Pennsylvania farms is sold alongside wine and spirits in state stores. “It’s an organic,” says Kenney, widely rumored to be considering a run for mayor. “Right now, what’s on the street, from what I understand, a lot of it’s chemically enhanced — which is bad. If you get a nice, pure, clean crop, and you package it right and sell it right for the right price and tax it ... I mean, Amsterdam survives.” This is unlikely to happen anytime soon, as the state government is dominated by conservative Republicans. But even in Philadelphia, Kenney’s proposal to stop arresting marijuana possessors instead of arresting them on the spot has opponents in Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and District Attorney Seth Williams. Both say marijuana-possession arrests can, and must, continue. The opposition from law enforcement was a surprise to Kenney:

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He had told City Paper that he believed the DA was on board, and that Ramsey was open to the idea. Indeed, Ramsey indicated support in public just three weeks ago, telling WHYY Radio Times host Marty Moss-Coane he was “in favor of being able to write a citation for minor possession as opposed to actually having a physical arrest taking officers off the street.” Ramsey now says that he wants to “make sure that I’m on solid legal ground,” and that he changed his position after conversations with the DA and the First Judicial District, which administers city courts. “I don’t think [Kenney] can actually do that at the local level. My understanding is that it has to be changed at the state level,” says Ramsey. “We don’t handle misdemeanors through anything other than physical arrests, at this time.” Williams has been widely praised for a “smart on crime” program to divert those charged with possession of small amounts of marijuana away from criminal prosecution. But DA spokesperson Tasha Jamerson says that “by law, all misdemeanors in the commonwealth require an arrest by police.” Nobody, however, seems to be able to point out exactly where it says that misdemeanor offenders must be arrested on the spot. Jamerson cited a statute requiring those arrested or summonsed for misdemeanors to be fingerprinted, but it says nothing about arrests. Temple law professor Jim Shellenberger, a former Philadelphia prosecutor

Pot from local farms in state stores.

>>> continued on page 8


[ submerged in the pristinely frosted trees ] [ a million stories ]

✚ JUNK JOURNEYS “The one thing I absolutely refuse to pick up is dog shit,” writer and photographer Bradley Maule tells me as we trudge up a steep trail in the snowbound Wissahickon Valley. “That said, I am cataloguing the dog shit. I’ve taken pictures of the dog shit. I file it by whether it’s loose or in a shit-bag.” “You have different shit categories?” I ask. Maule nods, affirming: “Different shit categories.” We’ve been hiking through a snow-dusted Wissahickon Valley Park in Northwest Philadelphia for about an hour, on a quest for litter. Maule has been trawling the 1,800 acre park at least twice a week, every week, for the last month and a half as part of a yearlong project he announced on his blog, Philly Skyline, under the heading “One Man’s Trash.” He plans to catalogue, and eventually display, all the trash he collects from the park in 2014. He hopes the collected mass will serve in equal measures as art project, public-service announcement and really, really disgusting trophy. There’s also a data component, which is how Maule attracted the quiet support of the Department of Parks and Recreation and the nonprofit Friends of the Wissahickon — he’s plotting the locations of littering “hot spots” he comes across for them. In exchange, Parks and Rec is letting Maule store his collection in an empty shed. I ask to see this shed. “All I can say is that it’s in the park,” he says with a bearded smile. “They asked me not to reveal its exact location.” Wherever it is, it has six recycling bins Maule uses to painstakingly sort each bit of inorganic trash (stuff that can rot or “attract critters” gets tossed) into categories: plastics, metals, clothing,

sporting goods and so on. The report on his first week’s haul, posted online: “11 12oz Natural Light beer cans,” “2 bottle caps,” “½ Streets Department sign,” “1 Atlanta Falcons jersey (Michael Vick).” Maule says on an average hike he easily fills two grocery bags, but today, the snow is making it difficult to find a single piece of trash. After another hour of hiking, submerged in the pristinely frosted trees, we still haven’t found anything. Not that a temporary lack of visible garbage is anything to complain about — the beauty of the Wissahickon is half the reason Maule is out here in the first place. “When I started, a bunch of friends wrote me asking to help. I told them, ‘It’s called One Man’s Trash.’” he says, half-jokingly. “There’s definitely a therapeutic element to this.” Maule started Philly Skyline in 2002, and his writing about the development scene and photography had built a solid cult following by the time he informed readers in 2009 that he was moving to Portland, Ore. “When you’re Out West, it’s easy to fall under the spell of Out West. The longer I was there, the longer I wanted to stay and see and do and live Out West,” he wrote in a sudden farewell blog post.

“There’s a therapeutic element to this.”

“It’s not you, Philadelphia, it’s me. Truly. ”

Maule had come to the decision following a cross-country road trip that zigzagged from one national park to another over the summer of ’09. He says he’d fallen in love with the natural splendor of the Northwest, and convinced his wife, who is originally from the Philadelphia area, to set down somewhere with more nature and >>> continued on page 10

photostream ³ submit to photostream@citypaper.net

PERFECTLY ALIGNED: Claes Oldenburg’s open “Clothespin” appears ready to snap up Billy Penn atop City Hall. LEW GREEN

wheeltalk By Nicholas Mirra

HOW DO I NOT DIE? ³ DEAR WHEEL TALK: I think my friends are crazy for biking around Philly, but I’m tired of being the only one taking a cab back from the bar. How do I bike in the city and not die? —Cab for One

Dear CFO: The short answer: Obtain a bicycle. Ride it. It will utterly transform how you engage with Philly (including its bar scene — not that you should bike drunk). I know; I was in your place a few years ago. Yes, our streets can seem intimidating. Some bicyclists ride like traffic is a video game, and a few drivers appear perpetually late to their child’s birth. But unless you have the muscle control of Animal from The Muppets, you are more capable of city biking than you think you are. I guarantee there exist many someones more timid, jumpy or un-athletic than you who are biking in Philly right now. Start casual. Get a friend to take you on a ride some Sunday afternoon. The Schuylkill River Trail is a good place to practice, or the wide, quiet streets in West Philly. (The Bicycle Coalition offers classes on city bicycling and teaches adults how to ride, too.) Once you’re ready to hit the road, be thoughtful about which streets you use. While you can legally ride on any street, some are friendlier to bicycles than others. For example, avoid Broadand take 13th or 15th instead. Take Spruce instead of Baltimore in West Philly. You’re looking for streets without buses or trolley tracks,with fewer trucks and more bicycles. Streets that feel better. Riding on Market through Center City can feel chaotic and dangerous. But it’s not biking making you feel that way — that’s just Market Street. Think of Philly streets like ski slopes,each with its own difficulty rating, beginner through expert. Your bike-loving friends will have tons of specific advice. Lastly, if those friends tend to fly down Broad Street without a helmet, remember that risk tolerance is an individual thing. A bike is a tool, not (necessarily) a lifestyle. (wheeltalk@citypaper.net) ✚ Nicholas Mirra works for the Bicycle Coalition of

Greater Philadelphia, and knows many things about getting around on two wheels. Send him your bike questions.

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✚ Will Philly End Its War on Weed?

[ the naked city ]

<<< continued from page 6

and an expert on criminal law and procedure, says that no arrest requirement exists. “I disagree with the DA and Commissioner [Ramsey],” Shellenberger writes by email. “Under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, criminal proceedings may be instituted by arrest or by filing a written complaint. … The police could, rather than arresting for minor marijuana possession, seize the drugs, get the offender’s name, address, etc., and then file a written complaint.” Indeed, Kenney says that police in Montgomery County and Pittsburgh are not required to arrest. And Lower Merion spokesperson Tom Walsh says his township’s police don’t arrest or even issue a summons for a misdemeanor — offenders just get a citation for disorderly conduct. Why did Ramsey change his mind, and what’s with the newfound rationalization from the DA? Kenney suspects that the office of Mayor Michael Nutter, who declined an interview request, might be involved. He intends to find out at City Council hearings on the proposal on March 10. “The whole thing is ridiculous,” says Kenney. “If you’re not going to prosecute … why arrest?” ³ THAT’S WHAT A LOT of young men were won-

dering last month during a busy afternoon on the benches outside marijuana court, held each weekday afternoon at the Criminal Justice Center. “The guns are still out there, people still getting killed every day,” says a frustrated 28-year-old named Chris, who, like other pot smokers interviewed for this story, declined to give his last name. “Weed is not killing anybody.” Chris has a lot in common with others here: He is young, black, male and was arrested for marijuana possession after police stopped and frisked him. In Chris’ case, it was a late afternoon this past August, when he walked into a corner store near his girlfriend’s Frankford house to buy a Twix: “They look for the black guy with the hoodie and boots and jeans, and think he’s up to something.” He spent two days in jail, during which he’d had a job interview lined up. He wasn’t hired. Shaq, 19, says he was walking down a “hot block” in North Philly when police “pulled a gun and said ‘Put your hands up.’ They’re probably looking for ratchet [gun] or something. I don’t know.” These young men (because no women are present) are here for the DA’s Small Amounts of Marijuana (SAM) program, created in June 2010 to keep everyday pot smokers out of big trouble and allow busy prosecutors to focus on more serious crimes. Those found in possession of 30 grams or less can avoid prosecution by paying a $200 fine and taking a class. But even with SAM, enforcing marijuana prohibition costs the city, and pot smokers, time and money. “It’s a waste of manpower, time and energy,” says Malcolm, 43, entertaining a rapt crowd of men who are mostly half his age. “It’s a joke. It’s a farce.” 8 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

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Inside the courtroom, a trial commissioner begins proceedings. Fifteen men file in — 12 are black, two appear to be Latino and one is white — and are presented with two options: Fight the charges in court, or enroll in SAM and have their records automatically expunged upon completion. The trial commissioner starts calling names. A number are in jail; many others haven’t shown up, and bench warrants are issued for their arrest. Indeed — just 53 percent of enrollees completed the program in 2013, according to Diversion Courts Unit Chief Derek Riker. He says he believes that inability or reluctance to pay the $200 fine is the main reason so many people don’t complete the program.

“People who smoke weed are going to smoke weed.” Deputy District Attorney Laurie Malone says the class requirement and fine are set by the courts, so altering the program isn’t something her office would do. She does concede that the current program isn’t likely to rehabilitate many people. “I mean, we’re realistic about that,” she says. “We understand that most of these people are adults, and they probably understand whatever potential harm that marijuana may bring. So to the extent that it impacts maybe one individual, we’re happy.” At marijuana court, no one appears to be seeking treatment. “People who smoke weed are going to smoke weed,” says Malcolm, joking. “This is the most expensive bag of weed I’ve ever paid for in my life.” The First Judicial District did not respond to CP’s request to view the film shown to SAM participants, but Shaq, who sat >>> continued on page 10


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icepack By A.D. Amorosi

³ IN LAST WEEK’S ICEPACK,arranger/com-

poser/producer Thom Bell talked up the sale of Philadelphia International Records’ (PIR) Broad Street property (to developer Carl Dranoff) and the upcoming jukebox-style musical based on the label’s back catalog. This week, there’s more Sound of Philadelphia news: Sony Music Entertainment (SME) made a deal for global ownership of all PIR recordings made after 1975. Since SME already owned PIR’s 1971-’75 titles, this means all of the label’s music is under one umbrella. “This is a good thing for fans of the Sound of Philadelphia and future generations around the world,” says Kenny Gamble.“The industry’s changing. It’s important our catalogue is in the hands of the right people who can get the most out of it. Our organization is excited to move onto future priorities. It’s time.” If you’re wondering what PIR hits came after 1975, thinkTeddy Pendergrass’ “Turn Off the Lights” and “Love TKO,” Lou Rawls’ “See You When I Git There” and “Lady Love,” Patti LaBelle’s“Love, Need and Want You,” McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” and more. Congratulations, gents. ³ I hear Jose Garces’ crew will finally enter the Old Original Bookbinder’s spot in Old City by the end of February. ³ Want one more shot at exEagles bad boy Terrell Owens,considering the dis he lobbed at locals with his Carl’s Jr. hamburger ad? Comic Joe Conklin does. That’s why he and Wing Bowl maestro Al Morganti created the 1st Annual Philly Sports Roast,debuting Feb. 20 at the Crystal Tea Room.“Morganti and I thought about doing an event like this for years,” says Conklin. “There are annual sports banquets where I get up and do like 5 to 8 minutes, but I always thought an entire night of silliness would work.” Why T.O.? Originally Conklin went after Donovan McNabb, but he “wussed out because he heard Bernard Hopkins was going to be present,” says Conklin. “Then T.O. does a hamburger commercial ripping Philly fans. It fell on our lap. We called him, agreed to his fee, now he’s coming.” Ask Conklin what that price is, and he laughs. “His fee is high. Obama might be cheaper.” No matter. The money goes to great causes: Mary Kate’s Legacy Foundation and All Hands Working’s firefighter charities. Get your tickets at phillysportsroast.com. ³ As always, you can find Icepack Illustrated (which is like this, but with photos) every Thursday on City Paper’s news/a&e blog, Naked City (citypaper. net/nakedcity). (a_amorosi@citypaper.net)

ARTISTS AND ARTIFACTS: (L – R) Dino Pelliccia, Anda Dubinskis, Ira Upin and Jennifer Baker stand in Baker’s studio among some of the neighbohood relics that will be part of the Northern Liberties historical exhibit. JESSICA KOURKOUNIS

[ art ]

PAINTING THE TOWN An exhibit traces NoLibs’ six-decade transition from factory center to post-industrial wasteland to “hipster mecca.” By Mikala Jamison

T

here’s a sort of privilege in listening in on the conversation between Ira Upin, Jennifer Baker, Anda Dubinskis and Dino Pelliccia in Baker’s bright, sprawling studio at Third and Green streets. The kitchen is filled with laughs, sighs and “Oh, what was that guy’s name?” memories. It’s the discourse of old friends who have spent years living, working and making things together. When they moved to Northern Liberties in the late ’70s and early ’80s, it wasn’t because it was hip, trendy or near the Piazza. Decades ago, tumbleweeds blew down Second Street, and the neighborhood was a cheap place for artists to thrive. The four — painters and sculptors — are just a few of the 70 artists represented in an artists’ book that is part of “Northern Liberties: From World’s Workshop to Hipster Mecca and the People in Between,” a historical exhibit curated by Baker that opens today at Center City’s Philadelphia History Museum. Creative types like these four were a driving force in Northern Liberties’ shift from a desolate, crime-filled expanse to an artists’ haven. When artists started moving in, the area was filled with dead and dying industrial spaces — vacant warehouses perfectly suited

for artists to convert into studios. Nearly four decades later, uttering “Northern Liberties” evokes farmers markets and baby yoga classes. These four artists are some of those “people in between” who both catalyzed and witnessed this gradual, immense shift. “There were feral dogs roaming around,” says Dubinskis, who moved to the neighborhood with Pelliccia, her husband, in 1983. “People would park in front of our building because it was such a desolate street, and we’d stand on the fire escape and watch them shoot up.” “I remember being on the fire escape … I look down, and here’s a guy bending the lid of my van up, stealing the battery,” recalls Upin, who moved to the neighborhood in 1977. The memory comes with a grin, though — “I’m chasing him down the street, and he puts it down and kind of just … struts away.” The area, they say, was full of diverse personalities. Upin’s page in the artists’ book elaborates: “It was made up of a wildly eccentric group of characters,” it reads. “From Harry Shur, ‘The Nail King,’ to ‘Mr. Kitchens,’ the local pyromaniac, to ‘Mr. Big Balls’ (use your imagination).” As the others reminisce about the time some poor sap got thrown into the street with no clothes on after a business deal gone bad, Dubinskis leans over. “This show is,” she says, “in a way, an experience of our youth.”

They are some of the “people in between.”

>>> continued on page 22

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[ arts & entertainment ]

â&#x153;&#x161; Painting the Town <<< continued from page 21

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just the natural progression of urban things.â&#x20AC;? The exhibit, conceived under the auspices of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, focuses on the last six decades in the area. Baker says she hopes the exhibitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s artifacts (decades-old roller skates, bottles from a factory, the deed to a home used as a speakeasy, et al.), photos, maps and multimedia elements will highlight its transformations. Baker explains she intends the exhibit to lend insight into how the changing landscape has affected those whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve lived there for years. The change hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been without its tensions. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Some drunk guy one night when I was walking down the street started yelling at me about being a carpetbagger,â&#x20AC;? Upin says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Fuck you, â&#x20AC;&#x153;carpetbagger?â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I moved into an empty building and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m living there with no windows!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;Ś I get the sense of more aggressiveness about things changing from people who have only been here for 15 years. They move in, and then itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s close the gates.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re happy to see it develop because of the amenities,â&#x20AC;? Dubinskis says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But the new people coming in, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re so different from who we all knew, because we were all making things.â&#x20AC;? Was NoLibs an artistsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; neighborhood in those

earlier days? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Absolutely,â&#x20AC;? the group replies as one. And now? â&#x20AC;&#x153;People are living in these places paying $30,000 a year, they all have two Audis or two BMWs and theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in their 20s and 30s. More people with disposable income are moving in,â&#x20AC;? Pelliccia says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just the natural progression of urban things. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how it goes,â&#x20AC;? Upin says with resignation. These artists helped change the neighborhood, and now the change continues. But they've got their memories. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I just really love Northern Liberties,â&#x20AC;? Dubinskis says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I love the fact that it was always a rogue part of the city.â&#x20AC;? (mikala@citypaper.net) â&#x153;&#x161; â&#x20AC;&#x153;Northern Liberties: From Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Workshop to Hipster Mecca and the People in Between,â&#x20AC;? through Aug. 31, $10, Philadelphia History Museum, 15 S. Seventh St., 215-685-4830, philadelphiahistory.org.

 

  

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Nuevo Flamenco: The GalvĂĄn Legacyâ&#x20AC;? has been This project has been supported by The John S. supported by The Pew Center and James L. Knight Foundation. The John S. for Arts & Heritage. and James L. Knight Foundationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arts program aims to engage and enrich Philadelphia through the arts.

DanceUP Dance/USA Philadelphia

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Samuel S. Fels Fund


By Mark Cofta

A BARD BACKFIRE Âł SHAKESPEARE-PRODUCTION concept choices sometimes feel like a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey: In which historical period, nation and culture can we set a play to make it feel fresh? At Lantern Theater Company, feudal Japan gets the random ass-poke in artistic director Charles McMahonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s staging of Julius Caesar. Admittedly, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a play too often clothed in bland Roman togas and sandals â&#x20AC;&#x201D; not nearly so noble since the toga parties of Animal House â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and one easily transplanted to another time and place, bloody politics being a staple of human history. If a new setting doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help the audience understand the play, however, whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the point? Meghan Jonesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; set is blandly, vaguely Japanese: dark wood, tan walls (that lighting designer Shon Causer turns different colors) and translucent sliding panels. I hoped something interesting would be revealed behind the panels besides the occasional shadowy moments. But when they finally open, all we get is another panel and, behind that, clearly visible stage lights creating the shadows. Oh, well. Brian Strachanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s costumes are uniformly handsome, but donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do enough to distinguish characters when actors play multiple roles â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and why does Caesarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bloodstained yellow shirt seem so cheerfully Hawaiian, especially since the stabbing sceneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s uninspired blood effects look like watery Kool-Aid? The Japanese-looking cos-

tumes, particularly the distinctive headgear, sometimes seem silly, and the actors donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t live comfortably in them. Crude masks appear in one scene, then never again. Most successful are the audio elements â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Christopher Colucciâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s original music, performed by the KyoDaiko Ensemble, with eerie flutes and explosions of martial drums in particular, and sound Julius Caesar designer Mark Valenzuelaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s powerful storm, with its seat-shaking thunder, work well. The performances, however, fumble in some sort of Bermuda Triangle between Japan, Rome and Philly. Forrest McClendon shines in the too-brief title role (we all know what happens to Caesar, right?) with a graceful imperial air that underscores the senatorial conspiratorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; pettiness â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but then the Tony-nominated actor suffers the indignity of returning later as a soldier, a big helmet failing to hide his identity. Others excel in moments: Joe Guzman as Cassius, he of the â&#x20AC;&#x153;lean and hungry look,â&#x20AC;? whose later attack of conscience feels real; Adam Altman as the poet Cinna (among others), mistaken by a mob for a conspirator; Bradley K. Wrenn as Caesarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s haughty but unqualified successor Octavius; Jered McLenigan as the principled Marc Antony. But their performances too easily devolve into mere shouting â&#x20AC;&#x201D; so much so that the second actâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s barrage of battle scenes and recriminations becomes painfully loud. (Avoid the front row.) Mary Lee Bednarek and Kittson Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neill play wives pushed aside by both Shakespeare and McMahon, then must also serve as sol-

MARK GARVIN

curtaincall

[ arts & entertainment ]

diers. The ensemble shows that the play can indeed be done with only nine actors, but not done well. Julius Caesar ought to belong to Brutus, the most tragic conspirator, because heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the only one acting against Caesar not out of fear and envy, but for idealistic reasons that tragically crumble. But the actor playing him, who goes by the initials U.R., sabotages the role with a peculiar vocal affectation not heard in his other local performances at the Lantern (The Island) or the Arden (Stick Fly, A Raisin in the Sun, The Piano Lesson) â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a character choice, along with a punky Mohawk haircut, that renders Brutus maddeningly distracting, difficult to understand and wholly unbelievable. Whether recognizably set in Rome, Japan or some other place and time, Julius Caesar doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t work when that choice isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t clearly justified. Instead, the play becomes, as Shakespeare writes in Macbeth,â&#x20AC;&#x153;full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.â&#x20AC;? (mark.cofta@citypaper.net) â&#x153;&#x161; Through March 16, $30-$38, St. Stephenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Theater, 923 Ludlow St., 215-829-0395, lanterntheater.org.

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23


re:view

[ arts & entertainment ]

Annette Monier on visual art

SARAH KAUFMAN

THE ART OF CONFINEMENT

³ APOKALUPTEIN:16389067 is vast, both in

physical scope and in the narrative behind it. The artwork, roughly the size of a bus, is displayed on bedsheets that were purchased from a federal prison when the artist was serving a 70-month sentence for distribution of a controlled substance. Artist Jesse Krimes gathered the images on the piece from the New York Times, and painstakingly transferred them to the sheets with hair gel ($3.85 from the prison commissary) and a plastic spoon, at the rate of 30 minutes per image. The mural is divided into three sections — one, a cloudy blue sky with floating nudes, one with giant magazine models gliding over images of news events and one of advertisements for luxury items. The pastel palette and beautiful apathy of the female figures are calming, but there is also violence in the imagery. There is certainly something theological at play — one is reminded of The Garden of Earthly Delights. Federal agents raided Krimes’ house in 2009, and he was charged with possession of 15 to 50 kilos of cocaine, a weight that brings with it the possibility of life in prison. Krimes was locked up for a year awaiting sentencing at Dauphin County Prison in Harrisburg. At Dauphin, he was locked down 21 hours a day with no access to outside recreation. “The windows were so dirty no light could come through or they were broken out, allowing the birds to come in and fly over and defecate on our open trays of food,” Krimes said. “Everything from serial killers [to] … low-level, first-time, non-violent offenders to opposing gang members [were] being forced to live together.” The sentencing judge’s recommendation that Krimes be sent to a prison like FCI Fort Dix or Schuylkill (to be close to his newborn son) was ignored and Krimes was sent to North Carolina’s 24 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

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FCI Butner II. Krimes was a trained artist before prison, but it was at Butner II, in the midst of racial and gang-associated segregation, that Krimes discovered art as an instrument for breaking down barriers between people. Labeled as an “independent” by his incarcerated fellows, Krimes began to teach art to a racially diverse classroom. Apokaluptein:16389067 would have been viewed as contraband by prison authorities, and so had to be smuggled out by mail piece-by-piece to Krimes’ girlfriend, Deborah Barkun. She views the packages as one of the only non-monitored conversations she was able to have with Krimes during his imprisonment. “In some ways, the whole process felt like a refuge and an

The piece had to be smuggled out of jail by mail. assurance to me that the person I knew was not being consumed by the system,” Barkun said. Apokaluptein:16389067 is not complete. Krimes does not consider it a mural, and the piece will be displayed some other way in the future. Krimes is currently on home confinement and applying to graduate schools. He said he has been driven by his experience to help people who find themselves in positions like his. “Art was not a choice for me. It was a means of survival, and I want to provide that opportunity to others who have had similar experiences,” Krimes said. (annette.monier@citypaper.net) ✚ Apokaluptein:16389067 is on view at Olivet Church Artists’ Studios, 608 N. 22nd St., through Feb. 28, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ring the bell next to the parking lot door.


“ SPELLBINDING, INTELLIGENT

AND SUSPENSEFUL.

JESSICA LANGE DELIVERS A MAGNIFICENT, MESMERIZING PERFORMANCE.” Avi O er

NYC Movie Guru

“A RIVETING THRILLER.” Je rey Lyons

WCBS Radio

“A BEAUTIFULLY MOUNTED ADAPTATION OF ÉMILE ZOLA’S TALE OF ADULTERY AND MURDER.” Mark Adams

BASED ON THE NOVEL

Screen International

“THéÉEéˇ˚REÈÈSE RAQUIN” BY èéEMILE ZOLA THESTAGEBASEDPLAYON “THEÉRÈESE RAQUIN” BY NEAL BELL SCREENPLAYBY CHARLIE STRATTON DIRECTEDBY CHARLIE STRATTON InSecretMovie.com /InSecretMovie

.

SPECIAL ENGAGEMENTS START FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 21

CENTER CITY Landmark’s Ritz at The Bourse (215) 440-1181 AMBLER Ambler Theater (215) 345-7855

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tinker much with the bones of the 1986 original. It’s still about well-todo singles who talk more than they think, and it’s spread thick with the calculated vulgarity required to make a David Mamet play cinematic. No one here’s attempting to rechisel the date-movie wheel, but this one’s only occasionally cheesy spirit begets some refreshing real-talk results. Fresh off a wild first encounter with new flame Joan (Regina Hall), motor-mouthed Bernie (Kevin Hart) introduces his best friend Danny (Michael Ealy) to Joan’s shy roommate, Debbie (Joy Bryant). Coupled off, the friends begin wrestling with the nuances of modern monogamy by juggling work, sex, jealousy and commitment in a group performance that’s thankfully a little more sweet than schmaltzy. The cast (and the R rating) should be credited for sidestepping many common rom-com traps, but at the end of the day they’re still stuck in a rom-com. —Drew Lazor (Wide release)

ENDLESS LOVE | F Scott Spencer’s 1979 bestseller Endless Love begins with a desperate act of pyromania, as a lovestruck teenage boy sets his girlfriend’s house ablaze in hopes of re-entering her family’s lives. Shana Feste’s new adaptation moves the fire to the film’s climax, where the now wholly accidental inferno serves merely to ignite a happy ending. That single alteration sums up everything that’s wrong with Feste’s film (namely, everything). In 1981, Franco Zeffirelli adapted the novel into a drippy Brooke Shields vehicle

in an attempt to recapture the success of his Romeo and Juliet. But where Zeffirelli got it wrong, Feste disposes of the novel altogether, transforming it into an unrecognizable, emptyheaded teen romance without even a Lionel Richie hit to its name. Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde play a pair of dopey star-crossed lovers who blather a lot about fighting for love while facing no greater obstacle than the scowling disapproval of her father (Bruce Greenwood). Fidelity to source material should never be the sole criterion on which a film is judged, but this Endless Love takes the lazy high school student’s approach of gleaning only as much story as is revealed by the book’s back cover. —Shaun Brady (Wide release)

KIDS FOR CASH | B+ In 2008, allegations of kids-for-cash corruption began surfacing in WilkesBarre, prompting an investigation led by the Philly-based Juvenile Law Center, which uncovered evidence that judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan had been handing down heavy sentences to minors accused of comparatively benign crimes. The “cash” came into play via Robert Mericle, the builder of these facilities, who paid Ciavarella and Conahan seven-figure “finder’s fees” for their assistance in helping the projects get off the ground. In interviews with victims and their families, first-time director Robert May, who previously produced The Fog of War and The War Tapes, coaxes out details that humanize the outrage. Hamstrung by a manipula-

tive justice system and, in many cases, already disadvantaged, these citizens had no recourse, and some came out permanently wounded. But it’s May’s sitdowns with Ciavarella himself that prove most disquieting. Contrite in a cold, contractual sense, the judge insists his actions were philosophically motivated, making his claims that “people didn’t know how to be parents” with a chilling sense of sanctimony. It’s never clear how honest he’s being, which renders May’s exploration of his choices that much more disturbing. —Drew Lazor (Ritz at the Bourse)

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON | B As their only child, a son named Keita (Keita Ninomiya), nears his sixth birthday, Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) and Midori (Machiko Ono) learn he was switched at birth with another couple’s child, a revelation that seems to snap Ryota’s misgivings about his son into sharp focus. Ryota is a driven office worker who has sacrificed his family life in the name of success and expects his son to do the same; that the boy enjoys his piano lessons but doesn’t push himself, even at 5, strikes his father as a mark of failure — or it did, until their lack of blood relation seemed to explain it. Ryota looks down on the middle-class family that has been raising his biological son, scowling at the father’s lack of ambition, which naturally leaves him more time to spend with his several children. There’s a schematic feel to the movie; you could remake it for American audiences without changing a shot. But Fukuyama’s dedication to Ryota’s prickly perfection would get lost in the translation, and with it the movie’s most intriguing aspect. —Sam Adams (Ritz at the Bourse)

THE MONUMENTS MEN | CGeorge Clooney’s fifth directorial outing tells the true(-ish) story of the Monuments Men, a group of guys at the upper end of the greatest generation tasked with preserving and rescuing Europe’s prized art and architecture from the Nazis. Clooneyas-director struggles with the big question of whether saving Western civilization’s greatest masterpieces is worth the loss of even a single human life, which he usually solves by giving soaring monologues to Clooney-as-actor. As a filmmaker he seems uneasy about the dilemma, shifting from race-against-time heroics to sudden polemics on man’s inhumanity to man. The result becomes an odd amalgam of the earnest propagandizing of Good 26 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

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Night, and Good Luck and the cornball retro humor of his forgotten ’20s football farce Leatherheads. Not even the well-chosen cast (which includes Bill Murray and John Goodman) can bridge that disconnect, leading to an unexpectedly aimless adventure. —Shaun Brady (Wide release)

THE PAST | AAt the center of Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s terse, quietly harrowing melodrama is a fragmented family coming to terms with its own inescapable history. Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) returns to France from Iran to finalize his divorce from Marie (Bérénice Bejo), but it’s clear they still care about each other, despite Marie’s engagement to Samir (Tahar Rahim of A Prophet). It’s not only their history together that threatens everyone’s fragile happiness, however. Samir is married to a woman in a coma, which binds his new relationship to his wife’s trapped consciousness. The cause of her vegetative state is just one of the film’s secrets, some shared, some grasped tightly by a single person, which slowly emerge. The film’s stubborn richness seems to argue that, if it can take a lifetime to truly get to know another person, why should a story fully reveal itself in the span of two hours? As the film continues to bloom in the mind weeks later, it’s a question hard to ignore. —Shaun Brady (Ritz at the Bourse)

ROBOCOP | C Move beyond the expectation that José Padilha’s shiny new RoboCop should possess the same satirical sneer and sense of place present in Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 classic and you’ll see it for what it is: a shoot-’emup that values style over socioeconomic substance. The victim of a car bombing organized by local mobsters, white-hat Detroit cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) becomes the prime candidate for a new initiative. To save his life, amoral robotics CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) hires a gifted doctor (Gary Oldman) to rebuild him into a badass crime-fighting hybrid. Padilha, the mind behind Brazil’s smash Elite Squad movies, presents action with more snap and innovation than many of his contemporaries, making the most of a big budget with set pieces and effects that highlight his hero’s most marketable abilities. He shouldn’t be faulted for simply existing in the shadow of Verhoeven’s timeless original — rather, it’s the carousel of flat performances, on both

[ movie shorts ]

sides of the law, that develop the most drag. —Drew Lazor (Wide release)

✚ REPERTORY FILM INTERNATIONAL HOUSE 3701 Chestnut St., 215-387-5125, ihousephilly.org. Centro Historico (2012, Portugal, 80 min.): Four short stories about Guimarães, the city where Portugal was born. Thu., Feb. 20, 7 p.m., $9. Grindhouse Greatness Double Feature: Read Shaun Brady’s preview in Agenda. Fri., Feb. 21, 8 p.m., $15. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009, U.S., 87 min.): Wes

Anderson’s cartoon adaptation of the Roald Dahl tale. Sat., Feb. 22, 2 p.m., $5. Dark Waters (1944, U.S., 90 min.): The Secret Cinema presents André de Toth’s atmospheric, noir thriller on a rare 35 mm print. Sat., Feb. 22, 7 p.m., $10. They Die by Dawn (2013, U.S., 51 min.): Reelblack presents a film about African-American cowboys in the Wild West. Tue., Feb. 25, 7 p.m., $10. The Blank Generation (1976, U.S., 56 min.): A cult classic depicting New York’s early punk icons. Wed., Feb. 26, midnight, $9.

PHILAMOCA 531 N. 12th St., 267-519-9651, philamoca.org. A Dark Place Inside (2014, U.S., 80 min.): The world premiere of the gory horror film. Sat., Feb. 22, 7 and 9 p.m., $10. A Journey Through Fairyland (1985, Japan, 90 min.): From the creators of Hello Kitty comes an animated dream sequence showcasing the great classical composers. Wed., Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m., free.

WOODMERE ART MUSEUM 9201 Germantown Ave., 215-247-0476, woodmereartmuseum.org. South Riding (1938, U.S., 85 min.): The Secret Cinema presents a film about the private lives of public servants on a 16 mm print. Tue., Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m., free.

More on:

citypaper.net ✚ CHECK OUT MORE R E P E R T O R Y F I L M L I S T I N G S AT C I T Y PA P E R . N E T / M O V I E S .


agenda

the

LISTINGS@CITYPAPER.NET | FEB. 20 - FEB. 26

[ remarkably hard to pin down ]

UNTUCKABLE: Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance perform at the Annenberg tonight through Saturday.

The Agenda is our selective guide to what’s going on in the city this week. For comprehensive event listings, visit citypaper.net/events. IF YOU WANT TO BE LISTED: Submit information by email (listings@ citypaper.net) or enter it yourself at citypaper.net/submit-event with the following details: date, time, address of venue, telephone number and admission price. Incomplete submissions will not be considered, and listings information will not be accepted over the phone.

THURSDAY

2.20 [ classical ]

✚ PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA The Fifth is the most famous of Beethoven’s symphonies. The Ninth, with the Ode to Joy, is certainly the most popular. But the most daring — and

in many ways the greatest of them all — is the Third, the Eroica, one of the major pivot points in musical history. It is tricky for an orchestra to bring off the vast grandeur of the music, and so this first performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra of the iconic work with Yannick Nézet-Séguin is an opportunity for the fledgling music director to add a very bright feather to his cap. This imposing program also includes the bruising Cello Concerto No. 1 by Shostakovich, and the deeply moving post-World War II cri de coeur of Strauss, Metamorphosen. —Peter Burwasser Thu., Feb. 20, and Sat., Feb. 22, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 23, 2 p.m.; $53-$130, Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St., 215893-1999, philorch.org.

[ theater ]

✚ HOTEL SUITE Some surprises: First, Hotel

Suite is the first Neil Simon comedy produced by Ambler’s Act II Playhouse in its 15year history. Second, it’s not really a Neil Simon play, but a greatest-hits quartet culled from other plays by the prolific stage and screenwriter (The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, Brighton Beach Memoirs). He’s written three wildly successful trios of one-acts set in hotel rooms — Plaza Suite, California Suite and London Suite — and Hotel Suite features two pairs of plays from them in which the central characters appear twice, essentially providing two plays and their sequels. To no one’s surprise, Act II’s artistic director and comedy master Tony Braithwaite stars, along with Tracie Higgins, Karen Peakes and Lenny Haas. —Mark Cofta Through March 16, $23-$34, Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, Pa., 215-654-0200, act2.org.

[ dance ]

✚ RASTA THOMAS’ BAD BOYS OF DANCE Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance want to bring the art of dance to the masses, and boy, do they ever: They’ve traveled ’round the globe, performing for more than a million people. They’ve appeared on Dancing With the Stars, at Carnegie Hall (with Sir Elton John), on the catwalk of New York Fashion Week and for the opening ceremonies of the USA International Ballet Competition. Clearly, these Bad Boys are well-liked, though dance snobs may steer clear, because these buff athletic guys, plus a couple of gals, are all about being entertaining and accessible. Bad Boys’ pieces are like turbo-charged dance-music videos brought to life. At Annenberg, they perform to pop hits by Usher, Queen, Kanye

West, Coldplay, The Beatles and Robin Thicke, among others. It’s a high-energy show with broad appeal. —Deni Kasrel Thu.-Sat., Feb. 20-22, $20-$55, Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St., 215-898-3900, annenbergcenter.org.

FRIDAY

2.21 [ film ]

✚ EXHUMED FILMS GRINDHOUSE DOUBLE FEATURE After more than a decade and a half of regular double features, a septet of 24-hour Horror-thons and a few 12-hour exploitation marathons known as eX-Fest, local genre film

fans may start to worry that Exhumed Films might eventually run out of movies to show. Resident collector Harry Guerro recently bought the group a bit of insurance against that eventuality with the purchase of 200 new 35 mm prints from a cache of abandoned reels on the West Coast. After hauling the trove cross-country through several snowstorms late last year, Guerro spent weeks sifting through the harvest, uncovering a variety of treasures from horror to art house to kung fu to concert films. The earliest fruits will be unveiled this Friday at Exhumed’s first double feature of 2014, a program of lost grindhouse oddities. Gang Wars (1976) is billed as a “blaxploitation/horror/kung fu absurdist masterpiece” featuring a martial artist who resurrects a demon in the midst of an inner-city gang war. Death Promise (1977) is a Death Wish wanna-be pitting the residents

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27


2.22

—Shaun Brady Fri., Feb. 21, 8 p.m., $15, International House, 3701 Chestnut St., exhumedfilms.com.

[ rock/tribute ]

[ hip-hop ]

✚ ALI WADSWORTH/ HEZEKIAH JONES/ FOXHOUND

✚ RJD2

—Elizabeth Thorpe Fri., Feb. 21, 9 p.m., $20, with Lushlife and DJs Aaron Ruxbin and Jack Deezl, Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100, utphilly.com.

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Covers are tricky business. Stick too close to the original and you come off unoriginal. Stray too far and you’re stomping someone’s precious memories. The task that these three local artists have in front of them at this show — trying to capture that specific moment in the ’90s when hard rock LISA SCHAFFER

Philadelphia producer/composer RJD2’s 15 years in the hip-hop biz have been remarkably hard to pin down. In the beginning he was merely a master of solid instrumental compositions, but later started singing and playing instruments, pushing the bounds of his chosen field. From there, RJ’s gone on to play with the Roots, remix Radiohead and Yo La Tengo, and do the theme for Mad Men. Once a staple of the Def Jux/XL camp, he’s released his last few albums on his own RJ’s Electrical Connections label — including 2013’s More Is Than Isn’t, a collage of drum ’n’ bass, guitar licks, Middle Eastern instrumentation, vintage video-game sound effects and grooves reminiscent of a public access astronomy show from the 1980s.

Foxhound re-create the cryptic despondency that Kurt Cobain brought to Unplugged before departing the world? Do people remember The Lemonheads, and do Hezekiah Jones’ rotating members actually care? Either way, your reverence or ambivalence will be rewarded with grade-A musicianship and ’90s nostalgia for miles. —Sameer Rao Sat., Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m., $10, Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., 267-6394528, bootandsaddlephilly.com.

SUNDAY

2.23 [ rock/pop ]

✚ WHITE LIES/ FRANKIE ROSE

bands were king and authenticity was queen — is even trickier. Can Ali Wadsworth (pictured) condense her powerhouse soprano into Eddie Vedder’s trademark throatconstricted baritone and still do Ten any justice? Will folk duo

In the U.K., White Lies has become the sort of raw-knuckled, post-punk act whose lo-fi-sounding rage has been enlarged and engorged to make them seem more epic and grand. A chunkier One Direction, if you like. That’s not an insult. Singer Harry McVeigh has a hearty voice, the band sounds as if they’re playing The Killers to his Brandon Flowers, and new-ish albums like Big TV say it all: They’re oversized and for everyone. Meanwhile, Frankie Rose (pictured) is quickly becoming nu-pop’s go-to opening act (she had that gig with Franz Ferdinand last autumn), and that’s fine. Her band’s new album

[ the agenda ]

Herein Wild (Fat Possum), has thick, catchy hooks and rapturously breezy vocal lines. Like S E B A S T I A N M LY N A R S K I

SATURDAY

of a NYC tenement against a slumlord cartel.

White Lies at its edgiest, Rose’s backing tracks feel gloomy without bringing you down. —A.D. Amorosi Sun., Feb. 23, 8:30 p.m., $20-$22, Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100, utphilly.com.

MONDAY

2.24 [ punk ]

✚ FLOGGING MOLLY Got some angst and a hankering to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day early? Flogging Molly does. The Philly stop on their annual Green 17 tour — this one their 10th, and supposedly last — marks the midway point of a countdown to their most sacred holiday. The IrishAmerican punk rockers’ latest album, Speed of Darkness (Borstal Beat), holds up their tradition of electric guitar


30 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

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plus fiddle and Celtic-tinged shouting while tackling the serious subject of the economic downturn’s effect on the work-

ing class. Check out Swagger’s seven-minute epic “Black Friday Rule,” from 2000, for a proper primer on FM’s style: loud, fast, political and perfect for encouraging hybrid mosh/jigs. —Julie Zeglen Mon., Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m., $44.50, Electric Factory, 421 N. Seventh St., 215-627-1332, electricfactory.info.

WEDNESDAY

2.26 [ theater ]

✚ THE SUIT

JOHAN PERSSON

Seldom does a director’s name sell a show, but in the case of this play, based on a short story by South African dissident Can Themba, legendary 88-year-old Peter Brook is the big draw. Author of the required-reading text The Empty Space and a pioneer of creating productions in minimalist “found” spaces,

[ the agenda ]

the world, most recently at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The New York Times praised its “witty inventiveness” (despite the story’s dramatic aspects) and declared, “Everyone on stage is pretty close to perfect.” Philadelphians get to see The Suit in a relatively intimate venue before it travels to Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. —Mark Cofta Feb. 26-March 8, $49.75-$75, Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut St., 215893-1999, princemusictheater.org.

[ comedy ]

✚ THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN Getting the city’s best standups on one stage is harder than you’d imagine. Between featured slots at Helium, opening gigs for major acts and the never-ending hustle to expand audiences on the road, the folks in this so-called Magnificent Seven don’t find themselves in the same place too often. When they do — whether they’re killing it on the Oddball fest side stage with Brody Stevens or at one of the few obligatory standup Fringe shows — it’s usually so quick you’re likely to miss it. Don’t make that mistake again. This Free For All Comedy showcase joins hosts Aaron Hertzog and Alison Zeidman with John McKeever (look up “Samesies” on YouTube and thank me later), Philly’s Phunniest crown-bearer Chip Chantry, Helium regular Darryl Charles and Phunniest-ranking Tim Butterly and Carl Boccutti for a night of high-caliber joke-slinging not to be missed. —Sameer Rao

Brook adapted The Suit with longtime collaborators MarieHelene Estienne and composer Frank Krawczyk. It weaves a fable-like tale of adultery in 1950’s apartheid South Africa with just four actors, three musicians, a few chairs and some clothing racks, and has been thrilling audiences around

Wed., Feb. 26, 8 p.m., $7, Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., 267-6394528, bootandsaddlephilly.com.

More on:

citypaper.net ✚ FOR COMPREHENSIVE EVENT LISTINGS, VISIT C I T Y PA P E R . N E T / L I S T I N G S .

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f&d

foodanddrink

feedingfrenzy D A N YA H E N N I N G E R

By Caroline Russock

³ NOW SEATING

The Strip Joint |SoWe, the GradHo gastropub at the corner of 22nd and Carpenter has been transformed into The Strip Joint, a new take on a steak house offering up full steak dinners for less than $20. Billing itself as an alternative to the pricier temples of tenderloin in the city,The Strip Joint has three steak options (steak maison aka strip loin, New York strip and filet mignon) all served with frites and a salad for $19. Reimagined steak-house sides like creamed spinach and kale and sauteed wild mushrooms all served way after Center City steak houses have turned off their grills. Tue.-Thu., 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Fri., 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-1 a.m. 918 S. 22nd St., 215-545-5790, phillystripjoint.com. Tortas Frontera | Top Chef Master/PBS celeb/booster of all things Mexican Rick Bayless makes his Philadelphia debut with Tortas Frontera, a Mexican quick-serve on Penn’s campus.The affordable offerings are geared to the college crowd with a smart lineup of pressed tortas, soups, flatbreads, top-yourown guac bar and breakfast options. Bayless and company have brought in local roasters Rival Bros., who are working on a custom blend for both drip coffee and espresso drinks. Mon.-Thu., 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. 3601 Locust Walk. Garage | Garage has been an East Passyunk go-to for a killer canned beer selection and skeeball since they opened back in June but up until recently the edible offerings were limited to BYO cheesesteaks. Now they’ve got their indoor food cart all set up and ready to host a rotating lineup of big name chefs from restaurants and food carts around town including Trevor Budny of Avance, Sean Magee of Time and Street Food Philly. Mon.-Thu., 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 4 p.m.-2 a.m. 1231 E. Passyunk Ave. Got A Tip? Please send restaurant news to restaurants@ citypaper.net or call 215-735-8444, ext. 218. 32 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

FOIE FIRST: Whipped foie gras is paired with cardamom yogurt, black walnuts and pickled grapes at Avance. NEAL SANTOS

[ review ]

EXTINGUISHING THE CHANDELIERS Out with the old French guard and in with Avance. By Adam Erace AVANCE | 1523 Walnut St., 215-405-0700, avancerestaurant.com. Tue.-

Sat., 5-10 p.m. Appetizers, $15-$23; entrees $25-$45; desserts, $12-$14.

H

idden beneath the street, in the cozy embrace of the bar at Avance, someone suggests You Should Be Kissed and Often. It’s the name of a cocktail, not a comeon, and begins with a lovely bartender, a coupe glass and a jug of liquid nitro. As the first More on: streamed the third into the second, fog rolled forth from the cup, down to the black walnut bar-top and across the exotic mise-en-place: Moroccan bitters, Herbsaint mist, shiso leaves stacked like purple valentines. “Do we have anymore Buddha’s hand?” a manager asked. Hard to image that inquiry in previous years, when this underground den was part of Le Bec-Fin in its various stages of rebirth and decay. As part of Avance, the homecoming float of 33-year-old

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chef and owner Justin Bogle — Michelin star recipient, reformed New Yorker, Pride of Roxborough — it makes total sense to find Buddha’s hand in the bar pantry. This is that kind of bar. Where liquid nitro is used not only to chill your glass but also to flash-freeze that shiso, which the bartender then smashed to minty smithereens and mixed with Bison Grass vodka and apple shrub. Voila: You Should Be Kissed and Often, a canary-colored cocktail as smooth and inviting (and potentially dangerous) as its name. Whether or not you like your drinking with fog effects, you’ve got to commend Avance for committing. When relevance, as much as excellence, is the goal, it’s all about committing. The last man to oversee this address, Nicolas Fanucci, learned that the hard way. His well-intentioned reboot of Le Bec kowtowed too much to the past — and to Georges Perrier, whose presence seemed tolerated through clenched MORE FOOD AND teeth, like a cranky grandparent’s. The DRINK COVERAGE name stayed. The renovations could AT C I T Y P A P E R . N E T / barely be called that. The old chandeliers M E A LT I C K E T. sparkled. Their crystals chimed for death. Bogle, who took over the space last summer, has extinguished the chandeliers — and with them, the old ghosts haunting this prime slice of Center City real estate. Sansom Street design firm, Pomegranate LLC, stripped the space of its opulent trappings and let an organic brand of luxury prevail. Instead of chandeliers, a >>> continued on page on adjacent page


✚ Extinguishing the Chandeliers

[ food & drink ]

<<< continued from previous page

Bogle’s food is art, especially the parade of delightful amuse bouches that commence the tasting menus. constellation of dangling bulbs throws soft light through the spare, pewter dining room. Sleek glass panels have replaced wrought-iron railings on the staircase leading up to the shadowy mezzanine, and big new windows in the wine room treat Avance’s vast selection like something to be admired, not hidden like contraband. These are my favorite elements in the space, and I’m in love with the bar, the sanctuary-like foyer and the façade, a puzzle of wood planks and living greenery that sets the tone right from the street. But overall, the dining room feels a bit glum. A Zagat commenter compared Avance’s look to a “boring motel lobby or a dentist waiting room,” and that’s not totally off-base. The carpets and fabric banquettes look cheap. Vertical planters are gashes of green, but their foliage looks artificial and generic, not lush enough to break up the monotony of the gray walls. One upshot of the sedate setting is that it lets the food shine. And Bogle’s food is art, especially the parade of delightful amuse bouches that commence the tasting menus, $87 and $138 for five courses and chef ’s choice, respectively. Electric pickled mussels rested in edible shells fashioned from deep-fried squid-ink pasta dough. A ceramic egg carton cradled four whole eggs, two hollowed and filled with crème fraiche, bacon tapioca and scrambled egg foam — a breakfast I wish I could eat every morning. Dots of chicken liver mousse and port gel beaded a potato chip puffed like chiccharón; the chip crunched satisfyingly then dissolved, leaving the sensations of fat and sweet to jostle and linger until the first course arrived. That course was more liver, foie this time, whipped and piped down the plate in a mauve ribbon against a bank of cardamom-yogurt snow. Bogle really understands texture, and his plates benefitted from an array of crumbles and crisps — black walnut in this case, the anchor for the airy foie decorated with pickled grapes. An artichokechip-and-sunflower-seed crunch underscored soft, smoky sunchokes cooked sous-vide in buttermilk whey. Carrots in an intense caramelized-squid broth wore crusts of puffed amaranth, nori and benne seeds. Bogle’s bag of tricks include the Anti-Griddle, Thermomix and iSi canisters, but his cooking is anchored in classic technique. He gave me the most delicate sweetbread, its creaminess more memorable than its elements of parsnip, cocoa and fermented pumpkin, and a shimmering block of pork neck that fell to pieces into a flow of Carolina Gold rice cleverly cooked like grits. A bar dividing a field of persimmon and turnip, the 12-day dry-aged duck breast was tender, crispy and supercharged with flavor. Not every dish worked. The chawanmushi’s layer of egg custard was so insignificant, it just made me crave

Serpico’s. The recent departure of promising pastry chef Tova du Plessis has Bogle doing sweets and not terribly well. Skip them in favor of the complimentary mignardises: dainty financiers, cassis marshmallows and macarons that taste like Butter Rum LifeSavers, a compliment. Or head back downstairs for after-dinner drinks: You Should Be Kissed and Often is but one of the fantastic cocktails by Bradford Lawrence. The bar is also where you’ll find my favorite thing at Avance. Garnished with onion marmalade, harissa mayo and feta, the perfectly cooked Border Springs lamb burger arrives on a bronzed, sesame seed-speckled potato bun, part of the restaurant’s extraordinary bread program. It is the finest burger I have ever eaten. That it’s served at the old Le Bec makes me love it, and Avance, even more. (adam.erace@citypaper.net)

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TREETOP MOVIE PRODUCTIONS INC., hereby gives notice that articles of incorporation will be filed with the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, under the provisions of the Pennsylvania Business Corporation Law of 1988, approved December 21, 1988, P.L. 1444, No. 177, effective October 1, 1989, as amended. The purpose for which the corporation is to be organized is for FILM PRODUCTION. INSTRUCTION/SCHOOLS

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WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS TO SEE THE SUIT AT PRINCE MUSIC THEATER

THE SUIT DIRECTED BY PETER BROOK FEBRUARY 26 - MARCH 8

Nonhlanhla Kheswa. Photo: Johan Persson

[ comic ]

Set in South Africa, this music-ďŹ lled tale of love, revenge and redemption â&#x20AC;&#x153;draws you in like the gregarious host of an intimate party.â&#x20AC;? (The New York Times)

ADVERTISING SALES - DIGITAL ACCOUNT MANAGER >VWZORSZ^VWO1Wbg>O^S`bVSZO`USabO\R[]ab`SOROZbS`\ObWdS^O^S`O\ReSPaWbSW\bVS >VWZORSZ^VWO`SUW]\WaQc``S\bZgaSSYW\USf^S`WS\QSROUU`SaaWdS2WUWbOZ/QQ]c\b;O\OUS`a  ESaSSYaOZSa^`]TSaaW]\OZaeWbVOab`]\URWUWbOZPOQYU`]c\RbVObO`Sa[O`baSZT[]bWdObSR O\RbV`WdSW\OTOab^OQSRQ]ZZOP]`ObWdSe]`YS\dW`]\[S\b7Tg]cVOdSO^`]dS\acQQSaaTcZ b`OQY`SQ]`R]TPcWZRW\UO\R[OW\bOW\W\UOQ]\aWabS\bQcab][S`POaSeSeO\bb][SSbg]c We Offer: Â&#x2019;0OaSaOZO`g^ZcaOQ][^SbWbWdS Q][[WaaW]\ab`cQbc`S

We require:

Â&#x2019;4cZZPS\SÂżb^OQYOUSW\QZcRW\U[SRWQOZ RS\bOZZWTSW\ac`O\QSO\R"9

Â&#x2019;Ac^S`W]`]`UO\WhObW]\OZOPWZWbWSa

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Â&#x2019;Ab`]\URSaW`Sb]Vc\bO\RQO^bc`S \SePcaW\Saa

Â&#x2019;5]OZR`WdS\W\QS\bWdS^ZO\ Â&#x2019;C^PSObS\S`USbWQe]`YS\dW`]\[S\b Â&#x2019;=\U]W\Ub`OW\W\UO\R]^^]`bc\Wbg T]`X]PU`]ebV

Â&#x2019;Ab`]\UOPWZWbgb][O\OUSO\RU`]e SfWabW\UPcaW\Saa Â&#x2019;3fQSZZS\bbW[S[O\OUS[S\b O\R[cZbWbOaYW\UaYWZZa Â&#x2019;>`W]`;WQ`]a]Tb=TÂżQSSf^S`WS\QS^`STS``SR

Win a pair of tickets to see THE SUIT by logging on to: www.citypaper.net/win NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. One entry per person or address. Winners will be chosen at random. Two tickets to THE SUIT per each winner. Tickets cannot be exchanged, transferred or redeemed for cash, in whole or in part. We are not responsible if, for any reason, winner is unable to use his/her ticket in whole or in part. Void where prohibited by law. Participating sponsors, their employees and family members and their agencies are not eligible.  

PrinceMusicTheater.org | 215-893-1999 1412 CHESTNUT STREET | AVENUE OF THE ARTS | PHILADELPHIA, PA 2013/2014 Season Sponsors:

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SOCIETY HILL LOAN

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7&3:(00% â&#x20AC;&#x153;..#&&3-*45)"4(308/ 50&1*$1301035*0/4 ,*5$)&/)"4"%%&%"/ &953"#&--8*5)1&3)"14 5)&$*5:Âľ4#&45'3*5&4 40.& 45&--"3#&&3#"55&3&%'*4) "/%7&3:(00%.644&-4Âł Craig LeBan, Philadelphia Inquirer, Revisited April 2007

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Philadelphia City Paper, February 20th, 2014  
Philadelphia City Paper, February 20th, 2014  

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