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NAKED CITY | Daniel Denvir writes about pervasive

mold, dampness and water damage in Philly’s aging school buildings. But the School District blocks a federal in-depth study of 50 schools.



COVER STORY | The Clay Studio in Old City has been throwing down for four decades, so they’re gonna party all weekend long. Sounds like a good chance to score a new mug and hear some Ghost jokes.



FOOD | With the June opening of a sunny second floor dining room and shiny new open kitchen, Vetri chef Adam Leonti is working closely with local producers and focusing on Pennsylvania-inspired menus for group dining. Over at Supper’s bar, Adam Erace finds a brunch cocktail that mixes up morning friendly ingredients (think apricot marmalade) with a bright mix of gin, ginger and saffron for sunny daytime sipping.

MUSIC | The dudes in Kite Party talk to Marc

Snitzer about the D.I.Y. scene in suburban Pa. Strong language not suitable for some readers.



MOVIES | Drew Lazor reviews the claustrophia-

inducing Locke, which stars Tom Hardy shouting into his phone while driving for 85 minutes.




THEATER | David Fox says EgoPo’s production of

Gint is compelling but try-hard.

NAKED CITY 7 A whistleblower lawsuit is filed against a mental-health clinic; Wheeltalk: Here comes bike share A&E 18 Reduxin’ Mason & Dixon ; 19 Album reviews: Lykke Li, Wussy, tUnE-yArDs and Ringo Deathstarr // MOVIES 25 Reviews of Fed Up, The Galapagos Affair and Young & Beautiful // CITYPAPER.NET Review of Nels Cline at Johnny Brenda’s; Polaroids of Wye Oak at Union Transfer // COVER Photograph by Neal Santos; Design by Allie Rossignol

STAFF Publisher Nancy Stuski Editor in Chief Lillian Swanson Senior Editor Patrick Rapa Arts & Culture Editor Mikala Jamison Digital Media Editor/Movies Editor Paulina Reso Food Editor Caroline Russock Senior Staff Writers Daniel Denvir, Emily Guendelsberger Staff Writer Ryan Briggs Copy Chief Carolyn Wyman Associate Web Producer Carly Szkaradnik Contributors Sam Adams, Dotun Akintoye, A.D. Amorosi, Rodney Anonymous, Mary Armstrong, Meg Augustin, Bryan Bierman, Shaun Brady, Peter Burwasser, Mark Cofta, Alison Dell, Adam Erace, David Anthony Fox, Caitlin Goodman, K. Ross Hoffman, Deni Kasrel, Alli Katz, Gary M. Kramer, Drew Lazor, Gair “Dev 79� Marking, Robert McCormick, Andrew Milner, Annette Monnier, John Morrison, Michael Pelusi, Sameer Rao, Elliott Sharp, Marc Snitzer, Tom Tomorrow, John Vettese, Nikki Volpicelli, Brian Wilensky Editorial Interns Larry Miller, Maggie Grabmeier, Edward Newton, Robert Skvarla, Thomas O’Malley Production Director Michael Polimeno Editorial Art Director Allie Rossignol Advertising Art Director Evan M. Lopez Senior Editorial Designer Brenna Adams Editorial Designer Jenni Betz Staff Photographer Neal Santos Contributing Photographers Jessica Kourkounis, Mark Stehle 4 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

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Contributing Illustrators Ryan Casey, Don Haring Jr., Joel Kimmel, Cameron K. Lewis, Thomas Pitilli, Matthew Smith Human Resources Ron Scully (ext. 210) Circulation Director Mark Burkert (ext. 239) Sales & Marketing Manager Katherine Siravo (ext. 251) Account Managers Colette Alexandre (ext. 250), Nick Cavanaugh (ext. 260), Amanda Gambier (ext. 228), Thomas Geonnotti (ext. 258), Sharon MacWilliams (ext. 262) Office Coordinator/Adult Advertising Sales Alexis Pierce (ext. 234) Founder & Editor Emeritus Bruce Schimmel 30 South 15th Street, Fourteenth Floor, Phila., PA 19102. 215-735-8444, Tip Line 215-735-8444 ext. 241, Listings Fax 215-875-1800, Advertising Fax 215-735-8535, Subscriptions 215-735-8444 ext. 235 The printing of City Paper was provided by Calkins Media (215-949-4224). Philadelphia City Paper is published and distributed every Thursday in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester, Bucks & Delaware Counties, in South Jersey and in Northern Delaware. Philadelphia City Paper is available free of charge, limited to one copy per reader. Additional copies may be purchased from our main office at $1 per copy. No person may, without prior written permission from Philadelphia City Paper, take more than one copy of each issue. Pennsylvania law prohibits any person from inserting printed material of any kind into any newspaper without the consent of the owner or publisher. Contents copyright Š 2014, Philadelphia City Paper. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Philadelphia City Paper assumes no obligation (other than cancellation of charges for actual space occupied) for accidental errors in advertising, but will be glad to furnish a signed letter to the buying public.




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thebellcurve CP’s Quality-o-Life-o-Meter

[ + 1]

A Montco high school senior is surprised when Olympic snowboarder Shaun White suddenly accepts her invitation to be her prom date. A couple surprises later and she’s locked in Carrot Top’s trunk.

[ + 1]

City Council is considering a bill that would discourage local pet sellers from getting their puppies from puppy mills. Kitten refineries and budgie-rendering plants are placed on notice.

[ 0]

According to Action News, sugar-daddy arrangements (in which older men pay younger women for companionship) are popular in Philly. “What a co-inky-dink,” says Shaun White.

[ 0]

Action News also says Temple is ranked fifth among fast-growing “sugar baby schools.” And demand peaks whenever it’s Parents’ Weekend at Wharton.

[ - 2]

A deer runs up the Ben Franklin Bridge from the Philly side and is killed in traffic. “I just couldn’t let the poor thing cross over to Camden,” says hero motorist.

WALL DAMAGE: This image was taken on Oct. 24, 2013, in Bryant Elementary School’s room 303 — Laporshia Massey’s classroom. COURTESY JERRY ROSEMAN

[ 0]

[ + 2]

Huffington Post names Philly the fifth-best beer city in the country. “Meaningless Listicle Document Created Via Template,” says Huffington Post spokesbot. “Creative Commons Image Displayed.” Tyler School of Art student Lauren Hoover wins a manhole-cover-design contest for the Water Department. Everybody in her dorm agrees that “manhole” is a funny word.

[ 0]

Two participants in the Broad Street Run get engaged at the finish line.Then they shared a sweaty, exhausted, dry-mouthed kiss that sounded like somebody stirring a bowl of potato salad with a feather duster.

[ 0]

South Street Headhouse District encourages businesses to install security cameras, with the goal of having every block covered.This way when you grow up and try to deny you ever wore a dumb “Keep Calm and Chive On” shirt, we can pull up the footage of you buying the fuckin’ thing.

This week’s total: +2 | Last week’s total: -10 6 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

[ city schools ]

DAMP AND MOLDY CLASSROOMS The Philadelphia School District blocks a federal study after health risks are exposed. By Daniel Denvir he crisis-racked School District of Philadelphia has quietly abandoned a federal agency’s plans for further study of environmental-health risks in its aging school buildings. An initial review found pervasive dampness, mold or water damage — conditions that may aggravate asthma and other respiratory ailments — but the District has refused to make the complete findings public. The limited results obtained by City Paper raise questions, including at Bryant Elementary School in West Philadelphia, where a visual inspection conducted during the first study found signs of water-related deterioration in 95.2 percent of the school’s rooms. Bryant was where a sixth-grade girl, Laporshia Massey, suffered what her father described as an asthma attack last fall when no nurse was on duty, and died later that day. In fact, Bryant had the greatest prevalence of such conditions among 36 schools described in a summary dated March 20, 2012. Of that group of school buildings, more than 60 percent— 23


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schools — had dampness, mold or water damage in more than a third of their rooms. A far smaller number of rooms were cited only for mold or mold odor. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) Health and Welfare Fund believes that the District shut down a second study because it does not want to reveal the poor state of city school buildings. “They realized that the study shows that they have a flaw in their system that allows these conditions to continue,” says Arthur Steinberg, who heads the Health and Welfare Fund. The District, he says, probably “didn’t like where it was leading” even though it was designed to “provide critical information on health conditions for kids, for staff members.” The initial study was carried out by the District in partnership with the Health and Welfare Fund and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a federal agency that is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What the Health and Welfare Fund describes as the study’s second phase would have investigated 50 elementary schools in depth, surveying the health of staffers and taking environmental samples from the buildings. For its part, the District, which is run by the state-controlled School Reform Commission (SRC), denies that it shut down an

The study shows a flaw in their system.

>>> continued on page 8

[ is thinking of trading out our chuck taylors ] [ whistleblower lawsuit ]

CLINIC UNDER FIRE In a lawsuit, a fired deputy director alleges overbilling at a Fairhill mental-health clinic. By Ryan Briggs


n Pennsylvania, almost anyone can start their own psychiatric clinic, be they a doctor, an experienced hospital administrator, or even a former ward leader, like Carlos Matos. Matos says he is the co-founder of the Juniata Community Mental Health Clinic (JCMHC), near Fifth and Huntingdon streets in Fairhill. He had been a Democratic ward leader until he pleaded guilty to a felony charge in 2007 for bribing three Atlantic City councilmen and was barred from political work. Although Matos’ attorney says Matos no longer works at the clinic, a whistleblower lawsuit filed in the Court of Common Pleas last month alleges that he was the director of JCMHC in 2013. The suit also claims that he and another administrator fired an employee for reporting what she said were “fraudulent billing practices” at the clinic. Matos, when reached Tuesday, said he had not heard of the lawsuit, and referred questions to his lawyer, Geoffrey Johnson, who said a formal response to the complaint was pending, and “absolutely denied” the allegations. Johnson said the termination was solely performance-based. However, Yeadon resident Sheree Brown says she was just doing

her job. She was hired as the deputy director of business operations at JCMHC in June 2013. Her primary duties "included analysis of rejected Medicaid billing and her recommendations as to what action to take to correct the billing," according to the lawsuit. It was an important position: The surrounding Fairhill neighborhood has one of the highest poverty rates in the city and 95 percent of patients received some form of subsidy, like Medicaid. It’s a lot of paperwork to deal with, but the responsibility didn’t bother Brown, a six-year veteran of the city’s Department of Behavioral Health, which pays out money for patient costs through a city contract. What did start to trouble her, according to the legal complaint, were what she said were inexplicable medical charges and soaring bills for psychotherapist time that didn’t seem to mesh with reality. Brown puts it bluntly. “The billing process wasn’t being done according to state laws,” she said in a recent interview. Brown noted what she said was a pattern of overbilling within her first month of work and says she immediately notified the clinic’s director, whom she names as Matos. She says she also notified administrator Sandy Acosta, a defendant in an earlier vote-buying case that also involved Matos as a co-defendant (in that case, she was convicted, he was not). According to Brown, neither Matos nor Acosta seemed particu-

The termination was perfomance-based, lawyer says.

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photostream ➤ submit to

SQUIRT: Water flowing from a hydrant forms a transparent ribbon that looks frozen in time. The image was taken outside The Wilma Theater on South Broad Street on April 29. The morning sunshine sparkling through the gushing water caught the photographer’s eye. DAMON LANDRY

wheeltalk By Nicholas Mirra

WHY SPOKESHARING WORKS ➤ DEAR WHEELTALK: I don’t see why I should be excited about bike share. We don’t need clueless tourists biking everywhere.We need more bike lanes for local bicyclists. —Benjamin Cranklin

Dear Ben: Don’t knock clueless tourists — they are an important mid-tier species in the economic food chain. And can we please retire the “Why are we paying for X when we can’t afford Y?” mantra? Bike share isn’t taking money away from our roads, and will likely spur more bike lanes due to increases in bike traffic and a larger bicycling constituency. Philly bicycling is growing up, trading its Chuck Taylors for loafers and looking up “How to close gauged ears.” Bike share is the latest sign of this maturation. And if Philly’s bike-share system is like those in other American cities, locals are going to be the ones making the most use of these bicycles. Many of those locals also own personal bikes, but for them (and you!) bike share solves many city-biking problems. If the forecast calls for afternoon rain, you can leave your fixie at home, take bike share to work, and then bus it home. Or say your friend from out of town is visiting; bike share solves the two-girls-onebike problem (without perilous Google searches). It won’t hurt your budget, either. Philly hasn’t announced its pricing scheme yet, but in other cities a yearly membership costs about $100. Am I worried about Mr. Magoo (of the Connecticut Magoos) thoughtlessly biking down Ridge Avenue? Maybe a little. But each bike-share station will have maps, and each bike may display the rules of the road. Helmets won’t be mandatory, and nobody has yet figured out how to pair helmets with bike share. But vending machines are being developed that dispense cheap, reusable or recyclable helmets, and I expect Philly will be paying attention to those developments. Check out for updates on Philly’s system. We shouldn’t underestimate people’s ability to figure this out. In the first five months of NYC’s Citi Bike, five million trips saw only two dozen injuries, mostly minor. And if New Yorkers can do it, we can do it better. ( ✚ 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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[ the naked city ]

✚ Damp and Moldy Classrooms <<< continued from page 6

ongoing project; instead, a spokesman says that a first project with NIOSH was completed, and the District decided not to participate in a second study because of its severe budget crisis, which continues to worsen and has led to widespread layoffs. “It’s a separate research project that NIOSH wanted to do in the District, and we did turn that down because we are in the midst of very diminished resources,” says District spokesperson Fernando Gallard. The Health and Welfare Fund says that does not make sense since the second study’s costs would have been paid by NIOSH. But the District says the time required of their bare-bones administrative staff would have been too onerous. NIOSH declined an interview request, writing in an email only that the agency is “currently working with those involved on possible next steps for this work.” ➤ AT THE TIME, Laporshia’s death prompted widespread criticism of Gov. Tom Corbett’s deep cuts to education spending and drew attention to the short-staffing of school nurses. After Jerry Roseman, an environmental health expert who has consulted for the Health and Welfare Fund for nearly 30 years, read about the 12-year-old’s death, he wanted to know whether the building conditions at Bryant might have aggravated her asthma or pose a risk to others at the school. “We read your article and it was really disturbing,” says Roseman, referring to the Oct. 10, 2013 City Paper story. But despite the NIOSH data, Roseman says, “the District’s environmental people indicated that they were unfamiliar with existing problems with the building.” The District denies this. An inspection of Bryant took place on Oct. 16, six days after Laporshia’s death was first reported. The District insists that they arranged the visit. But Roseman says that the District initially resisted visiting Bryant and the Health and Welfare Fund took the lead. He notes that the inspection took place three weeks after Laporshia’s death and only after it had been publicly reported. “We went out and we saw it,” says Roseman. “It was egregious. Crazy.” The District undertook repairs the following weekend, according to Roseman. Some problems observed by Roseman, however, were not specifically listed in copies of the District’s internal Indoor Environmental Quality “Dashboard,” a continuously updated survey of needed building repairs, which City Paper obtained from the Health and Welfare Fund. That includes information about what Roseman and a Bryant teacher say was Laporshia’s classroom: room 303. Photos of room 303 taken on Oct. 16, according to Roseman’s notes, showed “extensive, long-term damage and deterioration from persistent dampness and moisture,” damaged paint that is likely lead-based, and widespread dust and debris. “This kind of material is a concern not just because of the presence of lead, but because of its potential respiratory hazard — including its asthma trigger ‘potential’ — to occupants,” according to Roseman’s notes from the inspection, which he says were submitted to the District. The District says that such concerns were covered by a Dashboard entry calling for “a paint and plaster survey” and stabilization “throughout the building.” The District also said that 2011 NIOSH data showed that room 303 “had minimal paint and plaster damage compared to other areas.” And other areas do appear to be damaged. The ceiling of the third 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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WATER SPOTS: The ceiling of a long third-floor hallway at Bryant Elementary School shows evidence of water damage in this photo taken on Oct. 24, 2013. JERRY ROSEMAN

floor hallway, Roseman noted, had “large sections of damaged and/ or missing plaster [that] indicate the long-term persistent moisture and water intrusion into this area and are quite alarming.” Later on in October and then again in early December, Roseman carried out further inspections and found at least four new or recurring roof leaks in the building. He also observed “minor damage to already completed repair work” in the thirdfloor girls’ bathroom and cafeteria. Repairs were also creating “significant excess dust.” The District says that Roseman only captured a “work in progress.” But Roseman conducted another inspection on March 18, 2014, and according to his report, “the majority of the deficient building conditions previously identified at Bryant E.S. and reportedly present for years, are still present and had not been fully and/or properly addressed.” “The wall — the paint’s peeling off, there’s some holes,” says one teacher at the school, who requested anonymity, describing the building’s current state. “There’s a big leak in one of the stairwells, and water was coming down when it was raining.” No one can say for sure how, or if, Bryant’s conditions may have affected Laporshia Massey in the weeks leading up to her death on Sept. 25. But Roseman says that the District should take such risks more seriously. “This stuff could easily trigger an asthma attack or make some respiratory problems worse,” he says. “You have the death of a child, a 12-year-old in a school that has conditions like this. … It requires and deserves real evaluation.” The Health and Welfare Fund says that NIOSH had already spent a year preparing to undertake the second study, a pilot project that could have been replicated across the country, but that the District shut it down just as the survey was slated to begin. Outside occupational-health experts contacted by City Paper all agree that it was difficult to interpret the limited NIOSH data

Roseman: “It was egregious. Crazy.”

>>> continued on page 10

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✚ Clinic Under Fire

convicted of a felony.” A spokesperson for the commonwealth’s Department of Public Welfare, which licenses mental-health clinics, said the agency was taking the case seriously and would “work with all appropriate parties to the extent of our ability to ensure that all matters of waste, fraud and abuse are investigated thoroughly.” Acosta, who is listed as the clinic’s “administrator” on city contracts, did not return calls for comment, but Roland Turk, who is listed on state inspection reports as JCMHC’s “clinical director,” said that he was also unfamiliar with the suit. However, he added that he didn’t consider the allegations of fraud taking place in the clinic to be any of his business. “I’m a part-time clinical director. My interest is only in the clinical stuff,” said the 74-yearold social worker. “Frankly, I really don’t want to talk about this kind of thing anymore.” This is not the first time the clinic has run into trouble. In 2009, the IRS placed a tax lien against the clinic. In 2010, after Matos’ three-year prison sentence, he received mental-health treatment at JCMHC even though he was also employed there as a counselor. During a routine visit, his probation officer wrote that he observed Matos “wearing a Pennsylvania state Senate shirt and lunching with [former state rep candidate] Jonathan Ramos,” according to the Inquirer. During that same time, Matos’ wife, Renee Tartaglione Matos, the sister of state Sen. Christina Tartaglione, was the president of JCMHC (and proprietor of Norris Hancock LLC, the building’s owner, according to city records). However, Renee Tartaglione Matos

<<< continued from page 7

larly concerned with the alleged overbilling. “They said they would take care of it,” she said. “But it really just led up to my termination.” She alleges that each of the three times she reported what she thought were suspicious medical charges in 2013, Matos or Acosta promised to take action, but nothing changed — except Brown’s workload. “They took responsibilities away from me. They wouldn’t allow me to look at billing anymore,” she said. “And they were always adding new responsibilities, saying, ‘You need [to take on] clients. You need more of this or that.’” Brown believes her shifting duties were a smokescreen to cover her eventual termination. “It put a lot of stress on me,” she said. “They were basically trying to make up something they could say I wasn’t doing right.” Then, about five months after she first reported her concerns, JCMHC administrators told Brown, ‘It was not working out,’ according to her legal complaint. But Brown believes she was fired simply for doing her job, and is now seeking in excess of $50,000 in compensation, under Pennsylvania’s whistleblower law, in addition to legal fees. Matos’ lawyer, Johnson, categorically denied that Matos was even employed at JCMHC at the time, and said of Brown: “This young lady shopped this case to a number of lawyers.” Brown’s assertion, if proven, that Matos was serving as director in 2013 is potentially problematic. He did not file paperwork last year as a subcontractor at the clinic, a city requirement. And at the state level, Pennsylvania has the right to revoke a psychiatric clinic’s license if an “owner, operator or staff person … has been

<<< continued from page 8

without more information. One, consultant Hal Levin, head of the California-based Building Ecology Research Group, warned against overstating the potential harm caused by water-damaged rooms. Another, Dr. Jerome Paulson, a professor of Pediatrics and of Environmental and Occupational Health at George Washington University and director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment at Children’s National Health System, said the water damage “certainly would indicate a need for investigation as to how this occurred and why the situation was allowed to deteriorate to the point where so many rooms are involved.” Though many studies have found associations between dampness and mold, and adverse health outcomes, more research must be conducted to determine the precise manner in which building conditions impact health, according to Richard J. Shaughnessy, manager of the Indoor Air Program at the University of Tulsa, who is familiar with the NIOSH studies. NIOSH, Roseman says, wanted to do just that: advance scientific research while helping the School District better understand its building conditions so that it can more efficiently fix problems. ➤ THE DISTRICT’S REJECTION of the NIOSH project came amid

a tangle with City Paper over access to the raw data collected during the first study. On Feb. 19, the paper filed a request under the state’s Right to Know law, seeking complete data from the first phase of the study. Around March 21, the Health and Welfare Fund says, the District first informed NIOSH that it had concerns about 10 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

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✚ Damp and Moldy Classrooms

“They took responsibilities away from me.”

the project. On March 26, the District was granted a voluntary two-week extension by City Paper on its request. Around March 31, according to the Health and Welfare Fund, the District officially terminated the NIOSH project without explanation. On April 11, the District denied the paper’s open-records request, citing confidentiality. The paper has appealed that decision to the state’s Office of Open Records. The School District says that it does its best to keep buildings in good repair on an incredibly tight budget. “The District’s current administration inherited a building stock that is antiquated, deteriorated and lacked preventive maintenance for decades,” the District said in a statement. “The current budget only allows for so much repair work. We are trying to prioritize such fixes based upon children’s environmental health and

[ the naked city ]

was simultaneously employed overseeing voter registration with the Office of City Commissioners, then run by her mother, Margaret Tartaglione. According to the city charter, municipal employees are not supposed to benefit from city contracts directly or indirectly — contracts like the one JCMHC has been receiving from the city’s Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) since 2005, according to a DBH spokesman. Renee Tartaglione Matos was dismissed from her city job in 2010 after she admitted to violating a ban on political activity by city employees. She later also stepped down as president of JCMHC — although she still holds a seat on the clinic’s board, according to Johnson. Tartaglione Matos did not respond to a call for comment. On the outside, the clinic is just another unremarkable building on Fifth Street. On a recent afternoon, a few people trickled in or out. A forlorn Christmas wreath hung over the front of the brick clinic building, baking in the warm May sun. (

other parameters.” The District is unquestionably in a financial crisis, aggravated by state cuts. But the District would not comment on whether the state, which has exercised control over Philadelphia schools since 2001, has any responsibility for the condition of the District’s buildings, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education did not respond to repeated requests for comment. But the Health and Welfare Fund also faults the District for mismanaging what resources it does spend by failing to repair underlying structural problems — like deteriorated pointing or leaking roofs. A major problem at Bryant, Roseman wrote in a December report, is that “only very limited exterior work” on the roof had been “performed, scheduled or discussed” and “no work has been addressed to exterior masonry, window systems and/or other sources of major water intrusion, leaks, moisture and dampness.” Problems with the exterior brick pointing were first noted in May 2011, according to the District’s Dashboard, and appear “to be contributing to moisture intrusion and damage to paint and plaster.” The problem, >>> continued on page 12


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â&#x153;&#x161; Damp and Moldy Classrooms

[ the naked city ]

<<< continued from page 10

Custodians and teachers have filed a health-hazard complaint. which the District described as a â&#x20AC;&#x153;major capital project,â&#x20AC;? remains unrepaired. The District says that the repairs cannot begin until fiscal year 2015-16, and will cost more than $1 million. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Bryant project was in queue with other schools that also require the same type of structural work,â&#x20AC;? according to a District statement, â&#x20AC;&#x153;that is why it has been open since 2011.â&#x20AC;? Roseman says that the NIOSH data would have helped the District prioritize repairs and catch problems early â&#x20AC;&#x201D; thus saving money. The Health and Welfare Fund also alleges that the District has resisted sharing data from the beginning, and that even the projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first phase was shut down early: The District stopped collecting data on schools last summer before all the buildings were evaluated, according to Roseman, who says that the project was initiated in 2011 at his suggestion. Only 92 of more than 200 District schools were evaluated, according to an email from NIOSH to the Health and Welfare Fund. The District denies that the first study was shut

down early, saying they went beyond an initial agreement to assess only 70 schools and now have â&#x20AC;&#x153;incorporated dampness and mold inspections into our biannual environmental health inspections of all schools.â&#x20AC;? On April 11, the PFT and Service Employees International Union 32BJ, whose members include maintenance and custodial staff, filed a complaint â&#x20AC;&#x201D; called a Health Hazard Evaluation request â&#x20AC;&#x201D; with NIOSH, asking for an investigation of contaminants and poor ventilation. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our members are exposed, on a daily and continuing basis, to the potential hazards associated with persistent moisture, dampness, mold,â&#x20AC;? the unions wrote to NIOSH. The union complaint also said the buildings â&#x20AC;&#x153;present real risks and hazards â&#x20AC;&#x201D; likely to an even greater degree â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to schoolchildren.â&#x20AC;? (

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immediacy and danger were the things that I think attracted me, and brought me back for more,” he says. That edge, that riskiness, would continue to play into how Johnson viewed craft, and how he says he’s going to approach his work with The Clay Studio. The Clay Studio was founded in 1974 by five artists who needed a place to work. Its mission, Johnson explains, was to keep workspace for artists affordable, and to foster a collaborative environment where creators shared space and equipment. It became a nonprofit in 1979, with the broader goal always being to promote ceramics education to everyone, regardless of skill, background or level of experience. It’s always been, Johnson says, a rather open, accessible institution. “All the founders … [are] so comfortable with what they’ve built that they can make a space for some craft weirdo like me to step in and bring my perspective,” Johnson says. Johnson, who lives in Fishtown with his wife, Claire Joyce, and 2-year-old daughter, Ramona, says he likes to think of the evolution of craft generationally. First came post-World War II higher-education craft instruction, then mid- to late-’60s “crunchy hippie granola” craft, and then what Johnson calls the D.I.Y.-punk scene of the ’90s, showcased in the early 2000s with craft fairs like Renegade and Art Star Craft Bazaar. Around that same time, Johnson started his own blog,, where he featured artists who were employing crafts to make a point. “They were using craft in subversive ways, they were taking traditional crafts and sneaking all sorts of great messages into it, or doing really crazy audacious things,” Johnson says. Johnson, along with others who dabbled in the D.I.Y.-punk scene, were children of people who participated in craft in the ’70s. They were the “craft brats,” he said, who had been raised in craft-friendly families. He says that on the flip side of that, there were a lot of people raised in noncrafty but otherwise positive environments. For people like that, he says, “Craft can be a way to rebel.” The subversion, the rebellion, the “craft to make a point” will be on grand display in two significant ways during the Fired Up at 40 celebration: through the Guerilla Mug Assault and the war-veteran exhibitions “Occupation” and “War Crocks.”

of their artistic creation and giving it away,” Scholl says. Also part of the 40-hour celebration is another piece of art with a profound message — the “Occupation/War Crocks” exhibition will be on view from 10 a.m. on May 9 through 6 p.m. on May 10. It’s a collaborative exhibition between Ehren Tool and Jesse Albrecht, two ceramic artists and war veterans. Tool, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., has given away more than 14,000 cups since 2001. A member of the Marine Corps from 1989 to 1994, he served in the Gulf War. In “Occupation,” which he has done two previous times, he constructs a “bunker” out of raw, unfired clay, and then tears the clay down, firing the clay into cups. People participate, he says, by bringing insignia or personal items that Tool fires or prints into the cup. “It gets pretty intense sometimes,” he says. One woman whose father served in the Korean War gave Tool a boot-camp picture of her dad. When Tool gave her the finished cup incorporating it, she was crying so hard she almost dropped it. “It’s just a cup to 99 percent of the people. But to that veteran, and that person who cares about that veteran, it becomes something more,” Tool says. “A cup — I think that’s the right scale to talk about war,” Tool continues. “It’s just a hand-to-hand kind of thing. That’s where the best conversations happen, over a bottle of whiskey or


O N F R I D A Y , M A Y 9 , from 8 a.m. to noon, coffee drinkers in Old City and elsewhere around the city should be on the lookout for the “Guerrilla Mug Assault” team — Clay Studio volunteers will offer anyone drinking from paper to-go cups a free handmade mug. The Clay Studio won the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge Grant in 2012 for the mugassault idea. That year, they gave away 500 mugs. Dennis Scholl, vice president of the arts for Knight Arts, said Knight provided The Clay Studio a $25,000 grant for the Fired Up at 40 celebration. “It’s important to find people where they are, not for The Clay Studio to open its doors and say, ‘We’re here, come or don’t come.’ They’ve been very proactive in going and reaching a community where the community is. They’re doing that by bringing a piece L O R D Y , L O R D Y , L O O K W H O ’ S F O R T Y : Ceramicists work alongside a birthday sign gracing the walls of The Clay Studio, which marks its four-decade (and counting) run as an esteemed Philadelphia art institution with a weekend of free events. ••• Photo by Neal Santos

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For information about this weekend’s Fired Up at 40 events, visit

something, not a podium, not on a big loudspeaker. If I make a big giant sculpture, who’s going to have space for it? But a cup? Everyone’s got room in the cupboard for one more cup.” Albrecht, who lives in Bozeman, Mont., was deployed to Mosul, Iraq, as a medic in the Iowa National Guard in 2003. He has collaborated with the Combat Paper Project and is a member of the group Paintallica. His “War Crocks” exhibition, in which he creates his distinctive pots, has an obvious double meaning. “War is just a continual crock of shit, and it has been for my family, from the First World War to the Second World War to Vietnam to Iraq,” he says. Albrecht believes that the number of veterans making art about war has grown. “The difficult truth about what it’s like being in war and combat, people don’t openly want to say that. You’re accessing some really heinous shit that changes people. It’s rarely discussed in a way that’s believable. It’s important to hear the realities from veterans,” he says. To do that in art and in clay, Tool and Albrecht agree, is immensely cathartic. “A lot of people ask me if it’s like ‘art as therapy,’ and I resisted that for a long time,” Tool says of his work. “But [creating and giving away] over 14,000 cups … I’m beginning to be willing to admit that there might be some mental illness involved … that it’s something that I need to do.”

J O S H G R E E N , executive director of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), says that his organization’s 2010 annual conference, held in Philadelphia, was one of its best-attended, with more than 5,000 registrants. The Clay Studio, he says, is one of the country’s leading ceramics institutions, because of its leadership and vision, and also because it has been committed to establishing an artists’ residence, exhibition platforms and community outreach and education. “You [an institution] can have one of the three, but it’s not always frequent that all of those things can be done at such a high level. To elevate all three of those platforms equally is really remarkable,” Green says. The Clay Studio’s year-round educational outreach includes the Claymobile — a vehicle that brings clay-art education to traditional classrooms, children in the juvenile justice system and learning-disabled or formerly homeless adults. “That’s the kind of grass-roots community initiative that I think exposes the art form to a lot of folks who wouldn’t have access to it,” Green says. Johnson sits on NCECA’s board and Green has known him for years. “At the Philadelphia NCECA conference, he gave one of the most brilliant lectures I’ve ever heard,” Green says. “He looks at it as a ‘material culture’ discipline, not ceramics as an isolated art form.” The Clay Studio, Green said, is in good hands.

J O H N S O N P O I N T S T O a totem from his home life as an example of the importance of handmade things. His parents, he says, have a set of kitchen knives that his father made for his mother. “It’s not about the function of the damn things. I’ve been after my parents to get a decent chef’s knife for years. But [the knives are] a symbol of the ability to make things for one’s self and inject meaning into different parts of one’s life,” he said. Right now, in the art world, there’s a great emphasis on “social practice,” Johnson — ever the self-deprecator — says while rolling his eyes and flashing air quotes. Social-practice art invites collaboration with and participation by individuals and communities. “It’s something ceramics has always been doing, from the village potter on up. Ceramics has a very social role. So as some other artistic media sort of awkwardly try on the mantle of social practice, it’s a fit that’s very natural for ceramics,” Johnson says. Johnson’s the kind of creator who once shot paintballs at fine china to create the wildest pattern possible. Now, he’s curator of a world-class ceramics institution. But Johnson says his work at The Clay Studio and its outreach into the city is still imbued with his weakness for humor, rebellion and “extreme craft.” “You have to be subversive and out of step even to be a conservative, ‘traditional’ crafter,” he says. “You’re doing something that is way outside of the norms of what society tells you being a productive citizen is and means — consuming things.” ( P O T S A N D P L A N S : Ceramic art, pots and cups line the shelves of The Clay Studio’s workspace, which offers five- and 10-week classes for anyone looking to dig their hands into some clay. It also brings ceramics education into the community via its Claymobile. • • • Photo by Neal Santos

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19102review The review of Philadelphia books

GREAT DIVIDE ➤ MASON & DIXON: A NOVEL opens in the cozy rear parlor of a Philadelphia home on “Christmastide of 1786,” where the Rev. Wicks Cherrycoke, like an American Scheherazade, sets out to keep nieces, nephews and cousins entertained, and what a tale he has to spin. The adventures of Charles Mason — the awkward, depressive astronomer — and his partnership with Jeremiah Dixon — a Falstaffian, impulsive surveyor — take them from England to Cape Town to St. Helena and America; first to mark the transit of Venus, and then to demarcate the line that would bear their name. Those adventures play out in Thomas Pynchon’s great spiritual drama as various ideas of order vie against chaos, and become it. The age of reason carries within it the madness of slavery and the dispossession of indigenous populations; science is entangled with ancient mysticisms; we meet an erratic and sagacious Ben Franklin turning his electric discoveries into a nightclub act he performs. And the Mason-Dixon line itself is a grand metaphor, “changing all from subjunctive to declarative, reducing Possibilities to Simplicities that serve the ends of Governments, winning away from the realm of the Sacred, its Borderlands one by one, and assuming them unto the bare mortal World that is our home, and our Despair.” Pynchon’s prose, then, has never been more remarkable. And in the anachronisms of the language, his doggerel has never known a truer home: “A young man seeking to advance himself/ Will get him to the nearest Source of Pelf/ And few of these are more distinctly Pelfier/ Than — Long Life, Queen of Schuylkill! — Philadelphia.” —Dotun Akintoye

Mason & Dixon: A Novel

Thomas Pynchon (PICADOR, 1997, 784 PP.)

✚ If you know of any really good Philly books to review please email 18 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

PARTY PEOPLE: Kite Party — (L-R) Pat Conaboy, Andre Pagani, Justin Fox, Russell Edling and Tim Jordan — came up in the Tamaqua, Pa., D.I.Y. scene. NEAL SANTOS

[ rock/pop/punk ]

STRINGS ATTACHED The wandering, pondering punks of Kite Party get their act together. By Marc Snitzer sk Russell Edling, singer/guitarist of Philadelphia band Kite Party, pretty much anything about his life right now, and he’ll answer along the lines of, “I have no idea what is going on.” That’s not entirely true. At the moment, Edling and the other members of Kite Party at this interview — singer/bassist Tim Jordan, drummer Pat Conaboy and guitarist/keyboardist Justin Fox — know that they are doing a number of things: Relaxing in a Fishtown backyard beneath the blare of an ice cream truck; drinking cheap beer; fondly petting a pomeranian named Biscuit; and excitedly talking over one another regarding their sophomore record, Come on Wandering, out this week on Animal Style Records. (Not present in the backyard is guitarist Andre Pagani.) There’s good enough reason for their excitement. It’s been three years since they released their debut Baseball Season, and Come on Wandering almost never even happened. “Basically, we’re really good at procrastinating,” Conaboy laughs, in a no-but-seriously kind of way. With a five-member band whose sound is as densely layered as Kite Party’s — and whose every songwriting decision requires five resounding yeses — these things take time. Specifically: the bulk of 2013, often during late


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night studio sessions, often with parts recorded minutes after being written. “There were so many times where seven in the morning would come up and we would sit there and think, ‘Yeah, that’s good, that’s fine,’” Jordan says. “Then we would go back and listen to it and realize how loud and stupid it was. After five in the morning, you lose all objectivity.” Philadelphia is a good place for Kite Party. Jordan, Edling and Fox grew up in the economically depressed Tamaqua, Pa., where the narrative for bored, under-stimulated teenagers usually follows the directions of: Getting really into football. Getting really into drugs. Or starting bands and booking shows in fire halls. Kite Party was birthed from the last wave of Tamaqua’s D.I.Y. scene, and it’s a cycle that feels specifically Pennsylvanian. “It was reasonably easy to rent out a community center for $150 and tell this band from Pittsburgh, ‘Yo, we’ll give you a hundred bucks if you come play,” Fox says. “It’s total Pennsyltucky shit, and that’s what Tamaqua is.” Like many of these bands from small, Northeast Pennsylvania towns (the Menzingers, Title Fight, Tigers Jaw), Kite Party found a living, breathing and growing ecosystem in the Philly punk scene. But they don’t really sound like those bands. They’re not even too sure as to what they sound like, but thank you very much

“After five in the morning, you lose all objectivity.”

>>> continued on page 24

[ for the dreamy, doomed romantics ] soundadvice

[ album reviews ]

➤ ringo deathstarr | C+

➤ wussy | A

With God’s Dream EP, Ringo Deathstarr is trying new ideas (as in “Shut Your Eyes,” striking similar to Shriekback’s “This Big Hush”) but sifting through record crates was never the problem for an Austin trio that likes to wear its influences on its sleeve. “Chainsaw Morning” hints at the grand scope of their ambition and separates them from lesser navel-gazing Kevin Shields devotees. But mostly —Robert Skvarla this is merely good shoegaze.

Attica! (Shake It) strikes you as merely

great before it assumes its full stature and you realize Wussy is adding a few new sonic touches to that country-drone noise thing they do so singularly and so well. As lyricists, Walker and Chuck Cleaver claim for their emotional turf the very smallness of our lives, our heartache at the passage of time. —Dotun Akintoye

➤ tUnE-yArDs | B+ Merrill Garbus is a one-woman carnival, and Nikki Nack (4AD) is her wildest, thrillingest ride yet. Seemingly nothing is off limits in her Technicolor D.I.Y.-pop playground: She interpolates Busta Rhymes, Bill Haley, Jonathan Swift; calls out life by name; conflates counting rhymes with civics lessons, bloody satire with bubblegum funk, diatribes with dance parties. The sheer volume of musical information here — tribal chanting! fiddle tunes! field hollers! clattery junkyard drum circles! slinky show-choir R&B! lasers! — makes the album feel like a continuously erupting fountain of confetti, as delirious as it is disorienting. —K. Ross Hoffman


By Dotun Akintoye

➤ lykke li | ASweden’s favorite dreamy, doomed romantic has spent much of her career fusing the intimate with the anthemic; little wonder, then, that her sparsest record also boasts her biggest choruses. I Never Learn (LL/Atlantic) pares back the singer’s wall of sound, swapping handclaps for strummed acoustics to yield something lush and majestically chilly. She’s well-schooled in the classic pop art of misdirection: proclaiming “I’m never gonna love again” — in full-on, no-fooling power-ballad mode — like it’s the most joyous, —K. Ross Hoffman triumphant sentiment imaginable.

[ movie review ]

LOCKE [ B ] THERE’S MASSIVE RISK and considerable reward in Steven Knight’s impressionistic pocket film, which takes 85 minutes to track a successful man’s swift sinking into shit. Trained on Tom Hardy behind the wheel of his luxury SUV for the duration of its modest run time, Locke does suffer from its ambition, but its unconventional appeal softens a broken-record approach to visuals. Loading into his vehicle after a long shift at a Birmingham construction site, steady-handed foreman Ivan Locke (Hardy) begins working the hands-free device the second he sets off southeast toward London. A paragon of muddy-boot reliability, he shocks his frazzled employee Donal (Sherlock’s Andrew Scott) with the bombshell that he will not be on the premises for the next morning’s complicated concrete pour, which, if successfully executed, will count as the largest undertaking of its kind in European history. Though the revelation sets off a series of panicked, angry calls from Donal, there’s no convincing the principled Locke to modify his stance. The long-buried secret keeping him from his work — the one that’s got him convinced his impulsive-on-paper choice is the proper course — is a big one, and it’s something he must reveal to his happy wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson) and two young sons while he speeds toward the big city. His phone’s rapid ringing and the voices on the other line form a three-dimensional understanding of Locke’s spotless professional and personal existence, forming a quick-setting mix of sympathy and resentment that Hardy manipulates with force and grace. Not even Knight’s rapier of a screenplay can fully soften the inevitable eye glaze that comes with being stuck in a claustrophobic cockpit from its first page to its last, but it helps that the guy in the driver’s seat is the sharing sort. —Drew Lazor

A man’s swift sinking into shit.

ARE WE THERE YET?: Locke’s entire run time focuses on the titular character (Tom Hardy) juggling phone calls behind the wheel of his luxury SUV.


➤ “I’M EVERY SINGLE THING you think of me/

I’m sinner, killer, drug dealer, refugee.” That’s Tunde Olaniran’s précis of the age-old identity crisis of the “Brown Boy.” On his new EP, Yung Archetype (Quite Scientific), Olaniran asserts his rap bona fides and positions trap music as the sonic vanguard of hip-hop. In it, he hears what Young Thug senses intuitively and exploits to mesmerizing effect: the space hiding in plain sight within the deceptive simplicity, or even the primitiveness of trap. Thugger fills that space with a style of rap that borders on alchemy. On his best songs (try starting with “Danny Glover” or “The Blanguage”) he’s an anti-songwriter, turning tracks into a Dalian memory of song craft — melting hooks, an array of vocal ticks and deliveries (codeine drawl singing, sing rapping, speed up/slow down/speed back up, vertigo-inducing yo-yo rapping) into unpredictable shapes. Snapping in and out of flows as if he were hearing several beats in his head at the same time, Young Thug has never met a cadence he couldn’t manhandle, a fleeting thought he couldn’t maneuver into rhyme, a rule of the game he gave a fuck about. In this company, it’s the openly gay former dance student Le1f’s ebullient but confrontational “pretty nigga” manifesto Hey that sounds almost conventional as alt-rap goes. As personas, the three seem conjured from the nightmares of Cliff Huxtable or 50 Cent. All three have an interest in androgyny, all three discard received ideas of black masculinity, either street or aspirationally straitlaced. But hip-hop has long established itself as the vessel by which ideas of black cool, eccentricity and brilliance are transported into the mainstream (and in fact become the mainstream), and as the turf where those ideas contend, combine and regenerate each other. These outsiders are exactly where they belong. (

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[ arts & entertainment ]

By David Fox

THE MOUNTAIN KING ➤ AMONG THE PLEASURES provided by EgoPo Classic Theater’s season devoted to Henrik Ibsen has been an opportunity to revel in the astonishing breadth of his work. Psychologist, satirist, poet — master of realism, symbolism, melodrama — the great Norwegian playwright was all these and more. And no play is a greater compendium of Ibsen’s gifts than Peer Gynt, in many ways his magnum opus, an epic-scale picaresque adventure that traces a young man’s journey of self-discovery. Or perhaps it would be closer to call it self-invention, since the character of Gynt appropriates and manufactures stories of his life as he moves along — he’s the ultimate self-made man. Gynt endures hardship and good fortune, and lives well into old age — but precisely who he is and what he believes in remains elliptical until the play’s end, or even beyond. The size and complexity of Peer Gynt, as well as its cultural unfamiliarity for Americans (the story is based on Norwegian myths and fairy tales) has rendered it rarely produced in the U.S. — though many theater fans have heard of it, few have actually seen it. It’s more familiar through Edvard Grieg’s musical score, which includes the perennial hits “In the Hall of the Mountain King” and “Morning Mood.” Grieg’s score is not heard here, though music plays a very significant role. Director Lane Savadove has chosen to stage Romulus Linney’s imaginative rethinking of Gint, which recreates the hero as Pete Gint, and moves the story to the Appalachian Mountains in 1917. The choice of Linney’s adaptation, and Savadove’s masterful staging, make for compelling theater. The first thing we hear is Stephen Foster’s heart-rending “Hard Times Come Again No More,” (very beautifully sung here by an ensemble of gifted singing actors) — but those hard times come again and again. Gint’s voyage is often poignant, and the leave-taking from his beloved mother — the person who gives him a grounded identity — frames the first act. Linney translates Gint’s world to a viscerally American one — we’re reminded of the great Dust Bowl photos by Dorothea Lange — and Savadove builds on it with marvelously imaginative and beautiful images. Very occasionally, he and the ensemble actors go too far in trying to capture a kind of hokey charm — they look like the slack-jawed, bug-eyed denizens of Green Acres (demeaning stereotypes are not the same thing as mythic archetypes). But the quieter moments are effective and affecting. Sean Lally is a highly accomplished Gint

— charming us (as he must) even when we know he’s untrustworthy. Melanie Julian is lovely as his mother, and Isa St. Clair as Sally Vicks, the long-term object of Gint’s idealized love, manages to turn an icon into a believable flesh-and-blood woman. In the second act, Linney’s script wanders (literally and figuratively) further afield — the action moves to Hollywood in the ’60s, and the satire turns heavy-handed and didactic. But Savadove’s directorial invention never wavers, and there are some telling moments, as well as a superb performance by Ed Swidey. In short, Gint is a major achievement by a company that is notable for its bold, intellectually bracing work — and a suitably triumphant finale for their season. Speaking of bold choices, I’m struck by Savadove’s decision to

The quieter moments are affecting. stage variant versions of all three Ibsen plays EgoPo staged this season. His A Doll’s House and Lady from the Sea productions both involved substantial directorial departures from the original scripts. Using Linney’s Gint also means a distinctly different work than Ibsen’s original. Yet I can think of no truer or more admiring tribute to Ibsen than what Savadove and EgoPo put together — a season that at once honors the playwright faithfully, and also celebrates the remarkable way his work can be transformed for other times and contexts. In the theater, adaptation is sometimes the sincerest form of flattery. ( ✚ Through May 11, $27-$35, EgoPo Classic Theater at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American St., 267-273-1414,

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[ arts & entertainment ]

✚ Strings Attached <<< continued from page 18

“Young, ignorant, stupid and wrong.” for asking. “Sometimes I think that we’re a weird band. Then I think of, like, weird bands,” Edling says. “We’re a punk band, and we’re not a punk band, and we like the Velvet Underground and we like NOFX. We are just heavily products of our environment.” Fox begins developing a metaphor about Australian mammals to describe Kite Party’s sound, but it doesn’t exactly go anywhere, and his thought gets derailed, so he cracks open another beer instead. Come on Wandering is a shimmering, reverb-drenched meditation on this; on accepting that there aren’t many answers within that terrifying window of young adulthood; not knowing, and accepting that. “All that I am is a fire lost in the woods,” Edling sings on the ghost-folk “River Rocks / Forest Fire,” but earlier in the record, on “Halflife,” he’s singing of how “the fires will all blow over and I’ll still be on your shoulder.” Identities shift. Friends leave. What can we do about it? “When I was 14 I had assumptions about who I would be by the time I would be 22,” Edling says. “I’m fucking 25 right now and I don’t know how to be this age. It doesn’t mean anything. And I feel perpetually young, ignorant, stupid and wrong.” Fox recalls the track “Nest,” about his friend from Tamaqua who developed a heroin addiction, to tackle this feeling specifically. It’s a highlight on Come on Wandering, its sparse arrangement and use of empty space aids Fox’s passive observation of it all. “Coming from that small town, that could’ve been any of us,” Fox says. “And rather than try to make any sense of it, sometimes it’s better to ruminate on how fucking weird that is. “Everything’s confusing,” Fox says. “I feel like this is a super …” He doesn’t finish his sentence, maybe because he realizes he doesn’t have to. Instead, he just shrugs. “But also, fuck it?” ( ✚Thu., May 8, 7:30 p.m., $7, with Three Man Cannon, Gunk, Thin Lips and The spirit of the beehive, PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St., 267-5199651,

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Congress says pizza is a vegetable. Young & Beautiful

✚ NEW FED UP | BThe familiar voice of Katie Couric doesn’t help the fact that Fed Up has the look and feel of a TV newsmagazine report. It does, however, beg the question of why such appropriately pointed fingers don’t make their way into the evening news more often. As she underlines in the opening moments of Stephanie Soechtig’s effective, rudimentary issue doc, Couric has been reporting on America’s obesity epidemic for most of her broadcasting career. So why hasn’t anything been done to fix the problem? A parade of talking-head experts gather to blame a complacent, often compliant, government swayed by lobbyists from corporate food interests, fast food, sugary cereals — sugary everything, in fact. Sugar takes the blame for making us fat, even those of us who don’t know it; yes, there is apparently such a thing as “Thin Outside, Fat Inside,” a condition where the seemingly slim still have layers of deadly fat engulfing their organs. So take that, skinny. Both political parties come under fire, from anti-regulation Republicans to Michelle Obama’s focus on exercise over healthy eating thanks to support (read: pressure) from food companies. Soechtig makes the case that sugar is the nicotine of today, that the cigarette industry’s warning labels and shame-faced execs lie in the future for present-day sweets-peddlers. The ammunition is already in hand — the film includes jaw-dropping footage of a McDonald’s exec testifying before Congress that the company doesn’t market to children, that Ronald McDonald simply “informs and inspires through magic and fun.” —Shaun Brady (Ritz Five)

THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR: SATAN CAME TO EDEN | B Who would have ever thought that decamping to an isolated island paradise armed only with Nietzschean philosophy might end badly? The Galapagos Affair recounts a lurid tale of social Darwinism that unfolded in the birthplace of natural selection during the 1930s. The unsolved whodunit involves a pair of misanthropic Germans seeking to escape civilization, a family who proves that irritating neighbors is inevitable even in uninhabited jungles, and an Austrian baroness who arrives with a ménage in tow, intending to establish a resort hotel for tourists. The inevitable clash leads to an unexplained disappearance, most likely a murder, and the film depicts the uncomfortable triangle as an unflattering Lord of the Flies-meets-Gilligan’s Island microcosm of human society. It’s a compelling story made into a dry slog by Ballets Russes filmmakers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, who transform a tale of bitter hermits, sex and murder into something resembling a vintage educational film. The story is told in the words of the participants, using letters and memoirs read by Cate Blanchett, Diane Kruger, Thomas Kretschmann and others. There are also talking-head interviews with descendants of the original participants and Galapagos residents who grew up with other parents who sought to escape the modern world in the years between the two World Wars. Ultimately, they all seem to have come to the conclusion that no matter how much like paradise a place may seem, it’s spoiled when you can’t leave yourself behind. —SB (Ritz at the Bourse)

LOCKE | B See Drew Lazor’s review on p. 19. (Ritz East)

“The movie that will change the way people think about eating.” -USA Today

©2014 Atlas Films




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YOUNG & BEAUTIFUL | B+ After the atypical, semi-personal In the House and Potiche, François Ozon returns to the subject of young women’s bodies and how they use them in Young & Beautiful, where Marine Vacth plays a nubile teenager who starts turning tricks after losing her virginity. In its bare outlines, the plot is the stuff of sexploitation, but Ozon keeps himself clinically detached, and Vacth, a model with little previous acting experience, is a beauteous blank slate, her limpid eyes soaking up each assignation. From the first shot, of her young brother ogling her topless body through binoculars, she’s on display, and it often feels like she’s watching herself from a distance as well. When she loses her virginity the summer between high school and college, she’s confronted mid-lay by a figure stepping out of the shadows

that turns out to be a vision of herself. Later, she watches porn on her laptop, the camera isolating the spectacle of a woman’s (feigned) pleasure. Then, she pulls a Belle de Jour, setting up encounters online while studying at the Sorbonne and still living with her parents. Some meetings are dangerous, some might even be pleasurable, but her inner self is locked away and Ozon’s camera is locked off, holding each immaculate frame without telegraphing the intended response. It’s a pristine and chilly movie, beautiful and remote, like the woman at its center. —Sam Adams (Ritz at the Bourse)

✚ CONTINUING THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 | BAfter 2012’s The Amazing SpiderMan, even crabby too soon-ers were

forced to admit that Andrew Garfield filled out the web-slinging silhouette better than Tobey Maguire ever did. So sarcastic he’s a regular strangulation risk, Garfield nails the disaffected teen notes Peter Parker’s supposed to play, his mastery of the tone best realized in his interactions with just-as-quick girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Unfortunately, Marc Webb’s second Spidey vehicle uses this strength as a crutch, overextending the young-love storyline to the detriment of everything else. Fresh out of high school, Peter and Gwen struggle through their complicated courtship, compromised by Peter’s desire to keep a buffer between his best girl and his many enemies. But no amount of insulation can slow the advances of Electro (Jamie Foxx), a villain armed with energy-harnessing abilities and serious abandonment issues. Teaming up with Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), young head of the corporation responsible for turning Peter super, Electro spreads havoc — all while Spidey agonizes about Gwen’s potential move to London. With all the discourse handled by the lovebirds, there’s very little meat left for anyone else. —Drew Lazor (Wide release)

BLUE RUIN | B+ Slitting open the vengeance genre with a pretty, pearl-handled straight razor, Jeremy Saulnier’s second feature peddles both brutality and beauty, never insisting that one has anything to do with the other. A Kickstarter success story of the highest and least grating caliber, it’s an auspicious statement piece for fledgling filmmaker Saulnier, one that proves that real action and suspense can be captured in a cinematically “small” manner. The film rides shotgun alongside Dwight (Macon Blair), a spooky-eyed but seemingly harmless bum living out of his car whose daily routine of napping, dumpster-diving and breaking into homes to take baths is scuttled once a deputy raps on his rear window, letting him know that the man convicted of murdering his parents has been released on a technicality. Leaning on minimal dialogue that accomplishes maximum narrative movement, we learn that the loss of Dwight’s folks threw him into a hopeless, directionless spiral — until he hears this news. Rushing to prepare for a day whose arrival he long suppressed, Dwight silently stalks his nemesis, clumsily confronting him with a blade in a roadhouse restroom. It’s difficult to say whether what happens next can be a considered a success, but it’s an event 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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that sends Dwight and the audience barreling down a single-lane highway. —DL (The Roxy)

FADING GIGOLO | C+ Woody Allen very rarely accepts roles in films that he hasn’t had a hand in writing or directing, and when he does they tend to be atypical parts with scripts of questionable attraction. While the character of a rare bookseller turned male pimp would seem to fit that description, Fading Gigolo writer/director/star John Turturro seems to be trying his hardest to write a faux-Woody film. The handful of films that Turturro has directed have all been head-scratchingly eccentric, quirky to the point of being ramshackle. Gigolo is no different, with threads of ideas picked up and dropped at the director’s whim. The unlikely plot lurches into gear immediately, with Allen broaching the idea of Turturro prostituting himself in the film’s first dialogue exchange. From there it becomes a profile of New York’s most sensitive whore, with Turturro providing clients like Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara with more than just sexual fulfillment. Turturro’s direction is at its best in the small details. It’s in the broad strokes where things get fuzzy. —SB (Ritz Five) ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE | A Even bloodsuckers get the blues in Jim Jarmusch’s tragicomic exploration of mortality, which apparently sucks even when you can’t actually die. Setting up shop somewhere between Jandek, Kurt Cobain and Trent Reznor on the tortured-sonic-genius spectrum, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is a jaded loner and musician who also happens to subsist on an all-red, all-liquid diet in ghostly Detroit. Though he stays busy anonymously recording and releasing music, Adam grows permanently disillusioned by the shortsighted mortals he refers to as “zombies” — so much so that his alsovery-undead wife, Eve (Tilda Swinton), decides to fly in from Tangiers to cheer him up. The film is dark, figuratively and, of course, literally, but Adam and Eve’s time together — listening to obscure records, strolling through Detroit’s urban ruins — is light and tender. If you’ve ever connected with a love interest over a favorite artist, novel, movie or album, you’ll be able to relate, even if your canines aren’t filed to an unsettling point. —DL (Ritz Five)

UNDER THE SKIN | BJonathan Glazer’s first feature in nearly 10 years begins in a sinister

[ movie shorts ]

way that some will call Kubrickian and all will call creepy. After cobbling together a lexicon of negligibly normal-sounding syllables, a woman (Scarlett Johansson) stands over the limp body of a young girl. As she strips her like-size victim and pulls her clothing over her own body, we’re treated to an indiscreet introduction to who Johansson’s character, “Laura,” actually is: an alien hunter who’s just beginning to grasp the power external beauty holds over our planet. Cruising the streets of Glasgow, Laura is a coiled cobra in snug jeans, coaxing solitary pedestrians back to her shack, where they strip naked and sink willingly into a black void that harvests their insides. This is one of Glazer’s more overt lecture notes — it’s truly what’s on the inside that counts, especially if you’re a predator who enjoys snacking on blood and marrow. But the overall thrust of the film might be too meek to hold the attention of viewers with limited patience for Glazer’s mood-first, plot-second approach. —DL (Ritz at the Bourse)

✚ SPECIAL SCREENINGS INTERNATIONAL HOUSE 3701 Chestnut St., 215-387-5125, Diabolique (1955, France, 117 min.): The revenge thriller by Henri-Georges Clouzot that influenced Psycho. Fri., May 9, 7 p.m., $9. The Films of Mark La Pore: Four internationally-shot movies by the experimental documentary maker. Sat., May 10, 5 p.m., $9. The Films of Robert Fulton: A series by the self-taught pilot known for incorporating aerial shots into his movies (and for inventing the Airphibian, a flying car approved by the Civil Aeronautics Authority). Sat., May 10, 8 p.m., $9.

More on: ✚ 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 .


[ ineffable, crudely cinematic proto-post rock ]

A MAJOR FASHION STATEMENT: A Minor Forest plays the Boot & Saddle tonight.

Events is our selective guide to what’s going on in the city this week. For comprehensive event listings, visit IF YOU WANT TO BE LISTED: Submit information by email (listings@ or enter it yourself at 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.

5.8 thursday [ rock/experimental ]

A MINOR FOREST $12 | Thu., May 8, 8:30 p.m., with Stinking Lizaveta, Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., 267-639-4528, Following last week’s Philly visit from reunited/reissued/revered alt-rock harbingers Slint comes another band of resurgent ’90s nonconformists who were among

that Louisville group’s most direct early acolytes. At once jagged and meticulous, this San Francisco outfit homed in on the mostly latent traces of hardcore punk haunting Slint’s ineffable, crudely cinematic proto-post rock. They interspersed their knotty but somehow meditative guitar-work with episodes of overt aggression that made them an anomalously screamy outlier on Chicago post-rock hub Thrill Jockey (who reissued their two albums — 1996’s Flemish Altruism and 1998’s Inindependence — for Record Store Day). The established pigeonhole is “math rock,” but while they had (and presumably retain) the requisite technical dizziness, compositional instability and penchant for jokey and/or esoteric song titles (see “Jacking Off George Lucas,” “Putting the Gay Back in Reggae”), the term suggests a clinical dispassion that’s decidedly absent here. —K. Ross Hoffman

[ dance ]

[ rap ]

[ theater ]




$20-$80 | Thu.-Sun., May 8-11, Annenberg Center, 3600 Walnut St., 215-898-3900,

$29 | Thu., May 8, 8 p.m., with Darq, Inner City Hustlers, Al 1thing and Malik Rasaan, TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-2599,

$25 | Through May 24, Curio Theatre Company at the Calvary Center for Culture and Community, 4740 Baltimore Ave., 215-5251350,

Momix is one of the Annenberg’s “Dance Celebration” series’ most popular recurring acts, and with good reason: The company’s signature brand of dance-illusion dazzles the eye and enchants the mind. You can always count on surprising metamorphoses, where things start off looking simple only to shift into the fantastical in ingenious ways. Momix is stocked with super-toned, sexy bodies. They will be on ample display in Alchemia, a full-length work inspired by the four elements of nature — earth, air, fire and water. It’s an ideal springboard for the troupe, seeing as it’s all about transformation and turning the seemingly ordinary into something extraordinary. —Deni Kasrel

Havoc and Prodigy both turn 40 this year — that’s plenty old enough to get in on the reissue-compilation-newshit/ oldshit-previously-unreleasedsuperdeluxe-multidisc hustle. The Infamous Mobb Deep (Infamous) justifies its existence as long as you don’t expect it to contain the same chilling, streets-is-crazy energy the duo wielded almost 20 years ago when they were sharper, nastier and personally implicated in the stories they were telling. For that, you’ll have to check out the tracks from The 1994 Infamous Sessions. When you hear “Shook Ones Part II” again, well, that justifies the legacy-act moves, the tour, everything. —Dotun Akintoye

Nothing is above satirizing, as Curio Theatre Company’s season-ending North American premiere proves. Sophocles’ Oedipus the King has been the myth’s defining version for more than 2,500 years, but the mash-up with classic James Bond — by British spoofer company Spymonkey, scripted by Emma Rice and Carl Grose — skewers it hilariously in just 90 minutes. Director John Bellomo’s hyperactive “hot, hard, and in your face” production uses only four actors to present Oedipus’ backstory and his spectacular fall. Brian McCann plays the title role, with Aetna Gallagher as his mother-wife in a Barbarella-ish body suit. Paul

Kuhn and Harry Slack play dozens of other roles, adding quick-change costume pieces to their basic diaper-like costumes. The nonstop silliness includes big balloons, a unicycle, enthusiastic simulated sex and a sing-along refrain, “Leprosy is not funny” (but it is, just try not to laugh!). The script also allows personal asides from the actors as themselves, comically complaining about the struggles to survive in a small theater company. Oh, and lots of audience interaction and ad-libs: If you’re late, an actor’s parents, or — the gods forbid! — a theater critic, expect to be wittily targeted. —Mark Cofta

[ theater ]

WOODY SEZ $26-$46 | Through May 25, People’s Light & Theatre Company, 39 Conestoga Rd., Malvern, 610644-3500, People’s Light & Theatre

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[ events ]

Company presents a counter note to its fall production of Bessie Smith: The Devil’s Music with another biographical music revue by guest artists, this one about American folk singer Woody Guthrie. Using Guthrie’s own words, writings and songs, director Nick Corley, music director David M. Lutken (who plays Guthrie) and their ensemble show how his activism is still relevant today. Though his guitar often displayed the slogan “This Machine Kills Fascists,” Guthrie (1912-1967) was known for heartfelt peace songs like “This Land Is Your Land” and “This Train Is Bound for Glory.” He mentored Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan, and songwriters from Bruce Springsteen to Billy Bragg cite his influence. He also fathered folkie Arlo Guthrie of “Alice’s Restaurant” fame. — Mark Cofta

friday [ folk/country ]

The Philadelphia Songwriters Project

MARISA ANDERSON $6-$8 | Fri., May 9, 8 p.m., with Matt Sowell, Random Tea Room, 713 N. Fourth St., museumfire. com/events2.


You Pick The Winners!



There’s no trace of quaintness in Marisa Anderson’s brand of “Americana.” That probably comes from the fact that she’s truly seen the country, having walked across it after dropping out of college (and later living the childhood runaway’s dream of joining the

[ jazz ]

MICHAEL FEINBERG’S HUMBLEBRAG $15 | Fri., May 9, 8 and 10 p.m., Chris’ Jazz Café, 1421 Sansom St., 215-568-3131, If Michael Feinberg’s quintet Humblebrag lives up to its name, it’s because the bassist/bandleader’s self-effacing grooves belie the band’s ferocious musicianship. Feinberg is also the leader of the Elvin Jones Project, dedicated to the music that the legendary DUSTIN CHAMBERS


and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” don’t conjure the usual chest-swelling images of amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties, but rather, faded Polaroids of busted concrete under abandoned gas stations and rusted cars on overgrown lawns. —Shaun Brady

drummer made apart from John Coltrane, but Humblebrag is centered on his own compositions. Informed by funk and hip-hop, Feinberg’s swaggering sound isn’t averse to a wry touch of humor — like, say, naming “Tutuola,” the opening track on the band’s new Live at 800 East CD (BeHip Records), after Ice T’s character on Law & Order. —Shaun Brady

Underground Arts 1200 Callowhill St. Philadelphia, PA


Sunday May 18


Doors at 3:30 pm Show 4:00 pm

Tickets $18 Door $10 Senior, Student with ID. Discounts for advance purchase

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circus). The Portland-based guitarist plays traditional folk songs and American Primitive instrumentals with a serrated edge and a hardtimes howl. Her renditions of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”

[ rock en espanol ]

OZOMATLI / PHILLYBLOCO $22 | Sat., May 10, 8 p.m., TLA, 334 South St., 800-745-3000, There’s going to be a whole

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lot of people on the TLA stage Saturday night, considering that Los Angeles’ long-standing Rock En Espanol ensemble Ozomatli has seven pieces and the like-minded PhillyBloco

has been known to feature as many as 20. While the brassand-barely-dressed-dancerdriven Bloco plays a brand of ass-shaking percussive soul rooted in Brazilian music, Ozo has always taken more of a mixed Latin bag approach to its arrangements and rhythms. —A.D. Amorosi

[ rock/pop ]

LEFTY’S DECEIVER $10 | Sat., May 10, 8:30 p.m., with The Improbables and No Other, Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., 267639-4528, Drummer Mike Kennedy, guitarist Ed Hogarty and bassist Kristine Kennedy may have Audible to play with (among other bands), and Andy Williams may be a fat cat at the Weathervane Music Project,

but this ferocious foursome will always be Lefty’s Deceiver to us. A City Paper favorite since its first albums — 1999’s 45:00 and 2000’s Conversations on Favored Nations, to say nothing of our nomination of Lefty’s as one of Philly’s finest live bands — this quartet specializes in psychedelic blues and mod rave-ups reminiscent of early Kinks and Who singles. There may be a fresh Lefty’s album due in 2014, but the old faves will do just fine for now. —A.D. Amorosi

5.11 sunday [ lecture/music ]

MAME-LOSHN AF MUTERTOG FREE | Sun., May 11, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Drexel URBN Center Annex, 3401 Filbert St., 215-895-6388, “The kitchen and the home are how people teach what the culture is,” says Rakhmiel Peltz, director of Judaic studies at Drexel. Peltz, whose area of expertise is Yiddish, hosts frequent free cultural programs which address all manner of Jewish experience. This Sunday, he and six other experts will talk about the

Mother Tongue on Mother’s Day (Mame-Loshn Af Mutertog) and how Yiddish informs theater, poetry and daily life. Non-Yiddish speakers will have an easy initiation with a Yiddish sing-along led by Main Line Klez Jam favorite, Alex Botwinik. —Mary Armstrong

5.12 monday [ jazz/rock ]

AVA MENDOZA’S UNNATURAL WAYS $6-$8 | Mon., May 12, 8 p.m., with Pyramid Minds and Elliot Levin/Alexi Papadopoulos/Scott Verrastro Trio, Pageant : Soloveev Gallery, 607 Bainbridge St., Guitarist Ava Mendoza has been known to hold her own in duets with Nels Cline, Wilco’s resident six-string transmogrifist, so that should give some idea of the firepower and warped inventiveness in her playing. She relocated from the Bay Area to NYC last fall, recasting her aggressively abstract avant-jazz/rock trio Unnatural Ways in the process. She’s now joined by Child Abuse and Lydia Lunch bassist Tim Dahl and ex-Extra Life and Yukon drummer Nick Podgurski, which should guarantee that the band’s new lineup is as ear-assaultingly eclectic as its former West Coast incarnation. —Shaun Brady

[ theater ]

A TRIBUTE TO PHYLLIS DILLER $25 | Mon.-Tue., May 12-13, 1812 Productions at Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey St., 215592-9560, The nation’s only theater company devoted solely to comedy reprises its collection of original and classic material honoring one of comedy’s most eccentric performers. Phyllis Dilller defied convention not only by assailing the maledominated standup field, but also by creating an outrageous self-deprecating stage persona styled with colorful clothes and chaotic hairstyles. Jennifer 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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[ events ]

Childs and Mary Martello will re-create celebrated Diller routines as well as bits by comediennes inspired by her, and have also adapted passages from Diller’s autobiography, Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse. With accompanist Owen Robbins, they’ll also sing some of Diller’s original compositions and songs about her. Diller, who passed away in 2012, assisted Childs and the late Jilline Ringle in creating their 2004 show about women in comedy, Always a Lady, a story Childs will share in the show. —Mark Cofta

5.14 wednesday [ pop/dance ]

CHROMEO $30 | Wed., May 14, 8:30 p.m., with Oliver, Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100, Early this century, synth-pop music somehow grew from cheesy ’80s-throwback novelty to burgeoning revivalist subculture to mainstream cultural force, relatively free of “retro” baggage. The not-dissimilarly once-dated “vintage” styles of electro-funk and slick, blue-eyed plastic soul (cf., the lately rehabilitated Hall & Oates) may be undergoing a similar shift in status, with everyone from Phoenix and Cherub to Mayer Hawthorne and Robin Thicke taking part. Montreal’s Chromeo has been it for over a decade now, and four albums in — White Women (Atlantic) drops next week — what was once unabashedly schticky now just plays like great pop. The humorous but almost radically sincere opener “Jealous” should make Katy Perry, say, jealous indeed. —K. Ross Hoffman

[ rock/electronic ]

††† $18-$27 | Wed., May 14, 8 p.m., with Nostalghia, Death Valley High,

TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-2599, The early buzz on ††† — the side project super-trio of The Deftones’ Chino Moreno, fellow ’90s alt-rock survivor Shaun Lopez (of the band Far) and the enigmatic Chuck Doom — linked the band to the murky, oft-mocked electronic semi-genre of witch house. But that connection is

mostly limited to generalized Goth-iness and a commitment to using typographical daggers in place of the letter “T” (†hus, na†urally, no† a soli†ary †rack †i†le on †heir eponymous debu† omi†s †ha† le††er). What we get instead is a particularly palatable, moderately adventurous take

[ events ]

on semi-heavy, semi-electronic industrial arena rock, a la mid-’90s Depeche Mode or any-era Nine Inch Nails. Now, where’s the keyboard shortcut for a backward “N”? —K. Ross Hoffman


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cocktailhour By Adam Erace

MAD ABOUT SAFFRON ➤ IT STARTS WITH marmalade, a substance that, with its various relatives, often turns otherwise perfectly good liquors into vile, sugary creatures. So, needless to say, it wasn’t me who paired Easter brunch at Supper restaurant with the marmalade-and-gin drink Mad About Saffron. Credit my wife instead. As we feted our risen Lord with hot cross buns, fried chicken biscuits and blue corn pancakes bejeweled with mango, the Saffrons flowed. Supper makes them in pints. My kind of place. But my kind of drink? I didn’t think so. But I should have known better; Mitch and Jennifer Prensky aren’t bastardizing their Bluecoat gin with some old jar of Smucker’s. When you plan out and commit to a farm’s entire haul (Newtown Square’s Blue Elephant), you’re pretty much forced to step up your canning skills, and Mitch crafts some serious preserves. And while the apricots won’t be fresh for another month, the dried ones he uses make for a sticky — but not too sweet — gold jam with saffron, spiced with ginger and balanced with salt. The drink was developed by Supper’s former bar manager, Cara Danforth (who still does some consulting for Supper’s cocktail list). The current crew carries forth her formula, shaking a tablespoon of the marmalade with a shot of simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and Bluecoat, straining the elixir over ice. A Jack’s Hard Cider fill adds sparkle, and that’s the Mad About Saffron. I’m not mad at it at all. ➤ MAKE IT

• 1 1/2 ounces Bluecoat gin • 1/2 ounce simple syrup • 1/4 ounce lemon juice • 1 tablespoon apricot-saffron-ginger marmalade* • 8 ounces Jack’s Hard Cider • Fresh mint (as a garnish) Add all ingredients through the marmalade to shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a pint glass over ice. Fill with cider and garnish with mint. * Really easy to make at home, just add ingredients to a pot with some water and cook it down until sticky — or substitute any good organic brand of apricot preserves. ( 32 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

KITCHEN SENSE: Chef Adam Leonti in the soonto-open second-floor kitchen at Vetri. JESSICA KOURKOUNIS

[ tasting menu ]

UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS Adam Leonti is introducing a Pennsylvaniacentric tasting menu in the soon-to-open upstairs annex of Vetri. By Caroline Russock arc Vetri’s eponymous flagship/jewel-box dining room is a place like no other. Although the first-floor dining room seats only 30 patrons and the menu is hand written, there’s something about Vetri that doesn’t jive with other stuffy prix-fixe, fine-dining destinations. This could be because it’s nearly impossible to make Italian food stilted. Come June, Adam Leonti and the Vetri kitchMore on: en will be unveiling a new dining experience — dinners in Vetri’s newly renovated second floor focusing on Pennsylvania-sourced products. What was once a rundown apartment above the restaurant is being transformed into a bright and airy open kitchen with a long table in the back that will comfortably accommodate 16 guests for private-dining events. Just like the shiny new kitchen, everything in the upstairs dining room has been carefully selected — an induction burner placed flush in the kitchen’s wooden countertop, a vintage 1952 espresso machine, a wooden table by Bausman (a custom furniture maker in Ontario, Canada) and a vibrant red


M A Y 8 - M A Y 1 4 , 2 0 1 4 | C I T Y PA P E R . N E T

Murano glass chandelier imported from Venice. The upstairs menus will be equally custom. Leonti is working closely with Ian Brendle of Green Meadow Farm in Gap, Lancaster County. Being tight with Brendle has plenty of advantages. “He and I are so close that we kind of just make it happen. I don’t even have to order from him,” Leonti explains. “He just brought in all of these fiddlehead ferns and he’s going out this weekend to get morels … but he won’t get a lot. We’re pretty much the only space that can feed 50 guests and no more, so he can get that kind of stuff to us. Whenever he has wild strawberries, we get ’em.” Aside from custom-grown and foraged items, Leonti and Brendle are working on growing wheat so that all of the Vetri restaurants will be able to use Pennsylvania-grown flour. It will be ground in a 400-pound mill installed on MORE FOOD AND the third floor of Vetri. DRINK COVERAGE Brendle and Leonti travelled to the AT C I T Y P A P E R . N E T / Northwest last month to research possible M E A LT I C K E T. varieties of wheat to grow at Green Meadow. “Ian and I just got back from Washington State University about a month ago. WSU has over 40,000 grains that they’ve produced or crossed, they never manipulate DNA or anything, they just kind of cross. They try to find different crossings that will help with different environments. Everything that they have works on the West Coast, but they have no information about the East Coast, so we’ll be the guinea pigs. They gave Ian a giant bag of seeds, which are of great value. It was like $25,000 worth of seeds. He’s starting to try them out. >>> continued on page 34

Catering Available & Corporate Accounts Welcome

Open 7 days a week We deliver all day! Gourmet pizzas * pasta * salads * grinders * calzones * strombolis * burgers * steak sandwiches * hoagies * wraps

Sun thru Thurs -11am to 10pm Fri & Sat - 11am to 11pm

161 N. 21st Street. Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Corner of Race Street, behind the Franklin Institute) * 215-496-9111

[ food & drink ]

â&#x153;&#x161; Upstairs Downstairs <<< continued from page 32

Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re pretty much the only space that can feed 50 guests and no more. Leonti and Brendle donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t expect to be milling any custom wheat this season, but the project is part of a grand plan for all of the Vetri Family restaurants to use custom-grownand-milled flours in all of their breads, pastas and pizzas. But first comes the opening of Vetriâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sunny upstairs kitchen and dining room. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It gives us a chance to expand within the space,â&#x20AC;? Leonti explains. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Marcâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opened up pizzerias and things like that, but this is a chance to continue with fine dining, to bring it to the next level.â&#x20AC;? Along with meet-and-greet aperitivo hours (where guests will have a chance to mingle with Vetri and his partner, Jeff Benjamin) and hands-on cooking classes in the upstairs kitchen, the main focus of the new dining area is customizable meals for small groups. Along with a focus on Pennsylvania-grown produce, Leonti is already envisioning meals based on vintage cookware â&#x20AC;&#x201D; such as dinners revolving around copper pots and even a showstopping duck press for risotto made tableside with rhubarb and Cognac. The thinking behind these intimate tasting dinners stems from Leontiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s early days as chef de cuisine at Vetri. Before being tapped to head the kitchen, Leonti had moved to Italy and was studying under Stefano Arrigoni at Osteria della Brughiera at Villa dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Aleme in Bergamo. He wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t planning to return to the States. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wanted to move to Italy and never come back. My grandparents are from there and so I could get a citizenship and go about that and live there forever. That was my goal,â&#x20AC;? he says. But half a year later, Vetri called and offered Leonti the chef-de-cuisine position. At the time, the original downstairs Vetri restaurant offered both a la carte and tasting-menu options, but Vetri and Leonti soon decided to go tasting menu only. Leonti saw the a la carte menu as being somewhat difficult to navigate. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People were familiar with Italian-American food, but not the food of Italy, and most people donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go about ordering in the fashion that would make the most sense for how we cooked. In our heads, we cooked it that way to eat it that way.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;In order to do that, we had to create the experience and make it this one way, but we didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to tell people what to do. We just wanted to be able to find out what they like and put it in order so it could all make sense for everybody. Then, along the way, if you had sweetbreads for your second course and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re like, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC; â&#x20AC;&#x2122;Eww, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like organs,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; your mealâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not ruined. We know now not to give you goat later, or even just mention, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Hey, we were thinking about giving you goat later. How do you feel about that? Or how does Dover sole sound?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; If you just order like that a la carte, for a place like this, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make sense. The reactions that people have when they come in to eat have been so significantly changed in a joyous way.â&#x20AC;? (


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Previously Finished Or Unfinished

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[ i love you, i hate you ] To place your FREE ad (100 word limit) ➤ email A LOVE LOST Damn, I can’t believe you are gone...I still have your picture...every now and then you cross my mind... me wondering what the hell was that just sex? If it was, well, I guess it is what it is and I can’t go back. If I do decide to go back it would not be worth my why the hell should I go back...i wish that I never stepped into your restaurant because then I would have never saw your face....when I said I loved you I meant it..when I said I needed you I meant it also...

tact and I couldn’t help but to notice that you were eating my favorite desert, chocolate ice cream! I love it so much and I can’t wait to see you again at the store. And I hope that is soon so that you and I can compare some things especially how you like to look at me and I definitely like to look at you! I love a man in those work boots you had on! See ya on Thursday!

I LOVE YOU I know I’m hardly perfect and occasionally a spoiled brat but because of you I can change that. I see

nothing to alleviate your guilt but this anonymous admission is enough for me. Wishing you the best of luck this time around. Some people never change and I urge you to consider all the ways in which this applies to your life.

PISSING ME OFF! “LOVE THE CROSSWORD-HATE WHERE YOU PUT IT” I gotta say, one of my favorite things about City Paper is the Jonesin’ crossword. But damn, do you guys always have to print it in the back right next to all the ads for trannies and chicks with dicks? It

DELETED FRIEND Thanks for deleting our friendship from facebook. You are nothing more than a fraud. Claim to be “best friends." You are so full of shit bitch. We weren`t friends from the get go and half the staff their friends either. Bunch of idiots. So fuck you bitch with your fake ass self. Smile in my face and talk shit behind someone's back dfoesn't make you best friend. I was stupid enough to try to respect you. You are a white trash bitch, just stay under that rock you are at now. Stay getting drunk or high.

I met this girl for the first time last week and she had some nerve to wear a scarf on her head with tight jeans, and no teeth in the front. How can you think you miss it, and you are missing your front teeth.And then you were playing with your cell phone and taking phone calls and taking calls while you were in my company and that was really rude. I got news for your toothless ass. you are not all that you are very, very, very UGLY!

I fucked you the other day and I must say that shit was not definitely worth some men, it is sexy when a woman doesn’t wear any panties...but I flat-out think that shit is digusting! You came in the house with your ass half-way showing, when I sucked your titties they were dry like they probably had some dirt on them or sucked my dick then I came and that was it..what a fucking waste of time, your pictures are hot, but you definitely are not! That was a definite waste of $150. Warning to all the pay-to-play bitches... some of them are a rip-off!

YOU SMELL How many other ways can I tell you that you smell. This shit is getting alittle too much for me to handle and I don’t understand why all this keeps going on and on all the time! You pretend to wash up everyday and you make way more money than me so I am not understanding what the problem is! Who do you think that you are and why the fuck do you think we want to keep smelling this shit! I hate seeing you! I hope the next time that we run into each other again you wash up!


HOT GUY! I saw you at the store and you and I made eye con36 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |

People that are pissing me off! I hate when people just want to speak to me when I am busy doing something. then when I speak to you when I see you when I am not busy you dont even acknowledge me! So let’s stop playing these games because I can give two shits if you speak to me or not! Either way I am getting paid. Because the next time I see you and you pull that dumb shit, I am going to take my book and throw it at the back of your head. Because I know you don’t like me, and guess what? I don’t give a fucking damn because I only have to see you asshole for about 8 hours a day! and after I leave I really don’t care about yall!



I hate you. I really, really hate your pathetic ass. The thing that I hate most is the time and energy I put into wanting this relationship to work. This entire time you have been playing me like a fool and now I’m stuck seeing your ass daily. I can’t wait to have you out of my life for good. You are an arrogant liar that deserves to rot in the hell you have created for me and others around you. Funny how everywhere you live or people that have gotten close to you seem to disappear. Or for whatever reason, you have a fallout with them that is ALWAYS their fault. Never yours cause you “keep it funky”. Oh please, you are so clueless to life. The only thing you have any idea about is how to manipulate and lie. Eventually your chain of fools will break. You have nothing to fall back on. Even your mother would think twice before taking you in. So, when I see your homeless ass on the street, don’t even think to ask me for a favor. You are a pathetic fuck, a pathetic man and a pathetic excuse for a human being. I can’t wait to hear of your death and the only thing that would make it better is if it occurred at my hands. Bastard.

for so long! What the fuck else am I supposed to do with the situation! The ball is definitely in your court and I am playing your game but not for too much longer!


cherry blossoms, music, family & friends, and lots of love in our future. There’s nothing but MARVELOUS days and nights ahead, whether spent alone or as a family in our home. Alone we’re great but together we’re WICKED AWESOME & STELLAR. I love you, Bean, and looking only towards our future together.

JUST AS WELL It was never just you and I and somehow I’ve always known it never would be. If I could muster the courage, I would call you this very moment and tell you how all the while I had a boyfriend. I will do

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sometimes takes me the whole week to finish that puzzle and I look like a huge perv every time I work on it bc of all the nasty shit printed right next to it. Please put the puzzle somewhere else in the paper, literally anywhere else. Rock on!

Call, stop, think, not drag this out. I wanted it to be over this year. I have a crush on somebody new I work with. I wish he were writing to me instead of you. I’ve all but moved on in some nostalgic spirit. Don’t you know we ruined each other online? I hope the next girl/woman you’re interested in who makes a mistake with you doesn’t incur the same penalty I did. I hope you don’t throw her to your friends to kick around. somehow, I think that was my special place with you. In the gutter. You can’t take back what you say. You can’t explain this away. It would be nice if you even wanted to.

MY BOYFRIEND You have been away from me for so long and I don’t know what I am going to do! I feel like I am ready to explode. I hate the fact that I didn’t hear from you and then when I did you were talking bullshit! I hate the fact that you told your Mom that I abandoned you and I am the one that stuck around

✚ ADS ALSO APPEAR AT CITYPAPER.NET/lovehate. City Paper has the right to re-publish “I Love You, I Hate You”™ ads at the publisher’s discretion. This includes re-purposing the ads for online publication, or for any other ancillary publishing projects.

Philadelphia City Paper, May 8th, 2014  

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