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OCTOBER ~ 2012

INTERVIEWS DYLAN RATIGAN: WALL STREET’S BAD BOY | 28 During the interview, Ratigan attacked, with ever-expanding rhetorical passion, rapacious bankers, brainless politicians (of both parties), and corporate fat cats. The reward, though, was the power of his insights.

THE AGONY AND ECSTASY OF HUGH LAURIE | 30 Known to viewers everywhere as Dr. Gregory House, Hugh Laurie has made a career out of balancing humor with drama, moving from a background in British comedy to become one of the small screen’s most honored dramatic actors.

ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE | 32 The annual Halloween Ball given by Center City jeweler Henri David has become legendary for the costumes, the characters, the extravaganza and, of course, the Master himself.

Dr. J, by Kent Twitchell. 1219 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia. Completed 1998. Photo credit: Jack Ramsdale for Mural Arts Program (c) City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

OPINION

COLUMNS

Romney’s Class Warfare | 5

City Beat | 5

ART

Sally Friedman | 42

Alliteration of the Month | 6

Jim Delpino | 43

Jazz Library | 52 Ernestine Anderson

ETCETERA Day Trip | 53

Donna Marie | 7

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Poe: Master of Mystery & the Macabre | 8 Roy Lichtenstein | 10 Streets Made of Rainbows | 14 Exhibitions | 16

FILM Cinematters | 18 The Paperboy

STAGE

Harper’s Findings | 53

Footlights | 44

L.A. Times Crossword | 54

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Regional Theater | 46

Harper’s Index | 55 Calendar | 58

This Is The Week That Is: The Election Special!; Stars of David; Giselle; Seventy Scenes of Halloween; Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike;

Keresman on Film | 20 The Master Bad Movie | 22 Arbitrage and Take This Waltz Hugh Laurie.

Reel News | 24

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A Chorus Line; The Exit Interview

MUSIC Singer / Songwriter | 47 Art Garfunkel; Van Morrison;

Seeking a Friend for the End of the

The Blues Broads; Harry Shearer;

World; Prometheus; The Best Exotic

Iris DeMent

Marigold Hotel; The Imposter Film Roundup | 26

Keresman on Disc | 48 Carol Saboya; Sean Rowe;

The Oranges; The Other Dream Team;

Russ Lossing; Nicolette Good;

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel;

Donny Hathaway; Bill Wilson;

Francine

FOOD

Arianna Savall/Petter Udland Johansen Nick’s Picks | 50

Villagio | 39

Fourplay; Anat Cohen; George Cables;

Village Belle | 40

Julian Shore; Harold Mabern; Diana Krall

Henri David. Photograph by Allan Stegeman.

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ON THE COVER: Roy Lichtenstein, Wall Explosion II, 1965 Porcelain enamel on steel. Overall: 170.2 x 188 x 10.2 cm (67 x 74 x 4 in.) Tate, London, Purchased 1980 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

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opinion

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EDITED BY THOM NIICKELS

ThomNickels1@aol.com

A voting issue that isn’t EUGENE ROBINSON

WHEN MICHELLE OBAMA CALLED voting rights “the movement of our era” in a speech Saturday night, she didn’t specifically mention the Republican-led crusade for restrictive voter identification laws. She didn’t have to. Her audience at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual gala dinner fully understood the context. It’s hard to believe that, in this day and age, the right to vote is once again under assault from those who would prefer to keep minorities, the poor and the elderly away from the polls. But here we are. Let’s be clear: Voter ID laws are not a solution to the “problem” of voter fraud. There is no problem, or at least no problem that would be solved by voter ID. Proponents should be able to point to troubling instances of voter-impersonation fraud, which is the only kind that would be prevented by the new laws. But they can’t. For all intents and purposes, this kind of fraud simply does not happen. What did happen in 2008 was that African Americans, Hispanics and poor people—traditional Democratic Party constituencies—voted in unusually large numbers. And what happened in 2010 was that Republicans took control of more statehouses and set out to reshape the electorate and make it GOP-friendly. Not coincidentally, this voter ID campaign has been particularly intense in swing states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Invariably, advocates cloak the restrictive new measures in pious-sounding rhetoric about “the integrity of the voting process.” This sounds uncontroversial—who’s against integrity?—until you weigh the laws’ unconscionable costs against their undetectable benefits. “But you need an ID to do a lot of things, like board a plane,” advocates say. Unlike commercial air travel, however, voting is a constitutionally protected right. To infringe or abridge that right—for no demonstrable reason—should be considered a crime against democracy. Attorney General Eric Holder has vowed not to “stand by and allow the voting rights of American citizens to be impinged by specious arguments and by those who seek naked political advantage.” The Justice Department refused to allow South Carolina—a state subject to the strictest provisions of the Voting Rights Act—to enact a new voter ID law on grounds that minorities would be unduly impeded from exercising their right to vote. The state

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NEAR THE WRAP UP of the Budweiser-sponsored “Made in America” concert MC’d by star rapper Jay-Z, I got a heads’ up from people in the Art Museum area: “Hey, you should see what’s happening here. There are people relieving themselves in the streets and on parked cars. The cops are riding by but aren’t doing anything about it. I’ve never seen anything like this.” The speaker was not an old lady angry at young people having fun, but a sophisticated young woman quite active in the city’s social networking scene. Since rap is not tops on our list we avoided the concert, but another reason we stayed home is that being in the middle of thousands of people is not particularly enticing. Parkway concerts are notorious for cattleherding congestion, noise, and elbow clashing confusion, but add beer and rap to the mix and you have, well, a Porta Potty dilemma. Budweiser, the so-called King of Beer, has a bargain basement rating among beer connoisseurs. One of that beer’s legendary trademarks is how quickly it runs through the body. Add a thousand human lips to the Budweiser tap and you have a problem. Of course, there was no mention of the Art Museum area’s yellow plague in the local press post-concert. That might be described as a whitewash, sans the pee stains, of course. It used to be that sidewalk cafés in Center City were located only in special areas, near a public square, for instance, like Rittenhouse, or on a very wide street where there’s lots of leg and vehicle room. Not anymore. Today, they’re more likely to be in highly inappropriate places like next to a firehouse or alongside an alley filled with dumpsters. The foodie philosophy seems to suggest that a sidewalk café automatically ups the appeal of any new eatery, be it a humble Jamaican sugar shack or a Stephen Starr showplace. Not all that long ago, the Center City foodie instinct was much more balanced than it is today. It was a time when writers, artists and students went to luncheonettes and diners, not martini places with $40 dishes masquerading as diners. They were authentic diners with real homespun waitresses who had personality, not the “I’m really an ACTOR” attitude that’s all too common today. We confess that having to look at hundreds of people stuffing their faces every time we walk through town has given us a new respect for fasting. Still, we like a good European-style café as much as any other city dweller. Yet when we visited Washington Square West’s Le Pain Quotidien recently, we could only concentrate on the pain…yes, the pain. We ordered salad-plates, never suspecting that the “salads” were not salads per se but more like an hors d’oeuvres plate you might serve at a cocktail reception. What were we thinking when we ordered so much hummus and bread? Okay, chalk that one up to inattention, but when we asked for tea and were given a cereal bowl instead of a cup and saucer, we said “enough!” While we may like Fruit Loops as much as the next Pathway shopper, when it comes to drinking tea, a cereal bowl is not what we want. There are some traditions worth sticking to, and tea in a cup and saucer is one of them. Even swimmers like Michael Phelps or Mark Spitz would have trouble swimming in the Delaware River because of its currents. Olympic strokes or gold medals will not keep you afloat when the river’s dangerous currents suck you under and make you disappear. That’s why the Delaware can only be appreciated superficially via boating or watching the ebb and flow of the tides from someplace like Fishtown’s Penn Treaty Park. We did the sailing thing one warm August afternoon when the Liberty Sailing Club (303 N. Front Street) had one of their rare open house events for potential new members. Commodore Nancy Becerino invited us to sit down, have a donut, and fill out an intake form, after which we were invited to take a 30minute sail on the River with a two-man crew and a nice couple from Manayunk, Amanda and Rory. If this conjures up images of the Kennedy Hyannisport compound, you wouldn’t be far off. Sailing is invigorating—especially when you have a knowledgeable skipper (we did). Sailing, however, is not for people who don’t like to be touched or get too close to people. The up and down ripple wave effect from passing boats (namely speed boaters on zigzag suicide missions), or quick yanks at the rudder, can thrust you into your neighbor’s lap. As it was, each of us got our turn at the rudder while careful to watch our heads as the enormous sail swayed sideways like the pendulum of a great clock. We were up near Pettys Island when the wind stopped blowing completely, and we became like lost characters in a Lena Wertmuller film, if only for fifteen minutes. We watched as the crew attempted to pull-start the little power motor, in anticipation of what would happen next, until at least the little motor that could…did—and we were speeding happily toward the Ben Franklin Bridge. The little mishap

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icon The intersection of art, entertainment, culture, opinion and mad genius

challenged that decision in court, and final arguments in the case were heard. Minorities, poor people and seniors are less likely than other Americans to have government-issued identification such as a driver’s license—and more likely, for various reasons, to have difficulty obtaining an acceptable ID. They might live far from the nearest motor vehicles department office, for example, and lack transportation. In the case of some older African Americans born in the South under Jim Crow segregation, they might not even have a proper birth certificate of the kind needed to obtain a driver’s license or state ID card. For Hispanics, perhaps more important than voter ID laws are purges of the voter rolls—which are being conducted in some states, allegedly to make sure that non-citizens do not vote—and proof-of-citizenship requirements for voter registration. What could be more innocent, right? But proponents of these measures know that some naturalized citizens, who have every right to vote, will see such challenges as intimidating. The Advancement Project claims that up to ten million Hispanics could be deterred from registering or voting, and while this is a very high estimate—the assumption appears to be that Hispanics, absent the intimidation, would be much more likely to vote than other groups—it seems clear that there will be some impact on participation. And this, really, is the issue. The problem in this country isn’t too many people voting, it’s too few. We should be making it easier for people to vote, not harder, and we shouldn’t be imposing requirements that have the same effect as a poll tax. Courts may block some of the worst of the new restrictions, but some have already passed muster and gone into effect. These barriers can be overcome, however, with determination and perseverance. “We cannot let anyone discourage us from casting our ballots,” the first lady said. “We cannot let anyone make us feel unwelcome in the voting booth. It is up to us to make sure that in every election, every voice is heard and every vote is counted.” Indeed, it is up to us. Get registered. Get out and vote. ■

gave us an hour on the River, enough time for Amanda and Rory to begin thinking about getting engaged, or at least that’s what they told us back at the clubhouse when we went for our second donut. Call it a naïve Hayley Mills moment, but when we stopped in to hear the Institute for Classical Art and Architecture (ICAA) George Vanderbilt-Biltmore estate lecture at the Union League recently, we wrongly assumed that the League had become—in this, the first part of the 21st century—an egalitarian post-partisan club. While it’s true that women, Independents and Democrats are now allowed to join the League, that hasn’t changed the club’s core constituency, which continues to be right-wing Republican. The Union League’s political bias hit us full face a couple of years ago when we went to hear a lecture on Abraham Lincoln. While we loved the talk, the dinner in the League’s dining room turned to politics. The retrograde banter had the effect of a thunder clap, forcing us to look everywhere—even in the folds of our napkins—for a progressive voice. Sadly, all we found were cowering political moderates burying their heads in their vegetables. We thought of the Union League again when we saw actor Daniel Beaty perform at Drexel’s Mandell Theater in Emergency, a one-man play. Emergency is the story of what happens when a slave ship arrives in present day New York harbor. Beaty’s characters—from urban streetwalkers, cross-dressers and angry black activist types—played to a full house. Beaty is an actor, writer, and poet whose oratory skills kept us on the edge of our seats, something I suspect that the sponsors of the event (The Brothers Network, a Philly-based racial justice organization of diverse African American men) knew it would do all along. At the post-show reception at La Petite Dauphine, 22nd and Walnut (where they don’t serve coffee in cereal bowls), we chatted the night away, and thanked Brothers Network’s Gregory Walker for a fabulous evening. While most things French tend to be a class act, this isn’t always the case. At this year’s Le Dîner en Blanc (imported from France) event, for instance, where 1,300 guests dressed in white were to meet at a secret location with picnic baskets and folding chairs, we thought we were in for an epic night. Diners were told to call a secret number to get the location of the dinner. We had no trouble dressing in white, even if white makes most people look like a line cook at Little Pete’s. While waiting to get the secret location, we spotted a procession of people in white lugging folding chairs and picnic baskets. At this point, it became clear to us that the event was not for us—especially since we didn’t know to bring our own food and chairs. Call him the Man in the Bubble: Butch Cadora has been chosen over 500plus other applicants by Bo Concept (17th and Chestnut Street) to live in their window for six days, until October 4. Bo Concept tried this in New York City last year and that experiment wound up being a feature in The New York Times. Cadora is allowed out two hours a day to go home and shower ■

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City Beat Editor Thom Nickels Fine Arts Editors Edward Higgins

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a thousand words

Donna Marie

STORY AND PAINTING BY ROBERT BECK

THE ROADS ABOVE THE Schoodic Peninsula are noticeably less traveled. The majority of cars spill off of Route 1 just past Ellsworth and head toward Bar Harbor, taking with them most of the tourist-class amenities to be found in Maine. Machias (pop: 1,200) is the only town of substance before you finally bump into Canada, up at Lubec and Eastport. Other villages are remotely spaced along the edges of the Down East peninsulas, which stretch out into the Atlantic like long ragged mittens. That’s where I was looking for a place to settle in and paint next year, amidst the blueberry fields, granite outcroppings, and working harbors. I was a few miles past Addison when I saw the Donna Marie in a field. There are a lot of Lobster boats put up in this part of Maine. Some are being repaired, some are waiting for the price of lobsters to make fishing practical again, and many have seen the end of their working days. I’ve spent enough time around lobster boats to become familiar with the design grammar. Some are extraordinary statements of proportion and purpose. Not just well crafted, but exquisitely imagined. The lines of this one caught my eye. The Donna Marie was built in 1971 by Eliue Beal, in an era when many boats were first conceived as carved half-hulls. These were carefully sculpted models just a couple of feet long made of flat layers of wood that could be disassembled

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art

EDWARD HIGGINS

Poe Master of noir fiction

Antonio Frasconi (American, born Argentina, 1919), The Raven IV, 1959. Color woodcut. Illustration for The Face of Edgar Allan Poe. Woodcuts by Antonio Frasconi (Norwalk, CT: Antonio Frasconi, 1959). Gift of Sylvia Cordish, Baltimore. Baltimore Museum of Art.

DURING THE SIX YEARS he lived in Philadelphia, Edgar Allan Poe wrote some of his most enduring literature, including The Fall of the House of Usher, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, and The Gold Bug. His masterpiece, The Raven, was probably begun in Philadelphia and finished in New York City. Poe was obviously a master of horror, but few know of his international fame as a critic and editor. His intellectual reputation was solid in Europe and his work was translated by Baudelaire and Mallarme to popular and critical acclaim. Arthur Conan Doyle considered Poe to be the first detective story writer with all others following in his footsteps. Such artists as Edouard Manet, Paul Gauguin, Gustave Dore, James Ensor, and Aubrey Beardsey illustrated his work or created works inspired by his writing. These works and others are currently on display in the intriguing Picturing Poe: Illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Stories and Poems at the Brandywine River Museum. The exhibit, in a variety of styles and media, runs through November 15. Poe’s inspiration, evident in the mid-19th century, survives today with modern examples by Robert Motherwell and Barry Moser. Poe worked at a number of periodicals and, as a critic, could be very cutting. He accused Longfellow of plagiarizing, ridiculed the Transcendentalists, but admired Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry. He wrote, “Her poetic inspiration is the highest…we can conceive of nothing more august. Her sense of Art is pure in itself.” For his part, Emerson, the father of Transcendentalism, said he had read Poe and found nothing to it. Poe was born in Boston in 1809 to actor parents. After his father deserted the family and his mother died, he lived as a foster child with the Allan family in Richmond. During his nonliterary life, Poe was a student at the University of Virginia, a cadet at West Point and, according to most accounts, drank and gambled heavily. He constantly struggled with finances and attempted to live solely on his income as a writer, one of the first to do so. He died in 1849 in Baltimore after living for various periods in a number of cities. A cottage industry has grown around the circumstances of his death. The Poe house in Philadelphia, a national historic park, is located at 7th and Spring Garden Streets. It is the only surviving house of several that Poe lived in from 1838 to 1844 with his wife, Virginia. She was a cousin, only 13 when they married and the love of his life. He was devastated at her early death. There are a number of other houses and museums devoted to Poe in New York, Baltimore and Richmond. Of the many variations each artist has brought to the Poe stories, Manet’s is one of the most interesting. He has the raven entering the window against a cityscape of modern buildings. Some, such as F.O.C. Darling’s, are straightforward; James Ensor conveys the medieval horror in the style of Breughel, and Arthur Rackham abandons the text and adds details of his own. The Raven is the most often illustrated of Poe’s books, but the most interesting is Descent into the Maelstrom. Paul Gauguin renders the moment when the fisherman and his boat are being sucked down into the whirlpool in a Japanese fan form with the action below the surface water. Motherwell (he of LOVE Park) who considered Poe one of the “originators of modern art” sets the same moment in an Abstract Expressionist style. There is no question that the macabre which Poe mastered was a huge part of his popularity. The zeitgeist shared a dismal view of the world and the horror that humans would have to bear. Poe was probably more interested in the commercial appeal of the subject matter. After his death, and partly because of its mystery, Poe was depicted as a tortured artist, a madman, drunk, clearly insane and doomed from the start to end tragically. Much of that tale still survives today in the popular imagination, but Poe was a greater writer and creative artist than generally given credit for. The Brandywine River Museum provides an opportunity to see how much of the world then and now regards his talents. Given Poe’s history, the venue is appropriate and the timing is excellent as many an empty storefront will begin to sell Halloween apparel. If Poe has been misjudged in the past, then our lesson today should be, Nevermore! n Brandywine River Museum, 1 Hoffman's Mill Road Chadds Ford, PA (610) 388-2700 Edward Higgins is a member of The Association Internationale Des Critiques d’Art.

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art

BURT WASSERMAN

Roy Lichtenstein BACK IN 1962, ROY Lichtenstein presented a solo show of new work in New York City’s Leo Castelli Gallery. At the time, various commentators claimed his pictures were virtually throwing bricks at the honored aesthetic authority vested in both the abstract expressionist movement and traditional academism. His canvases, based on blow-ups of comic strip panels and assorted examples of inconsequential commercial art, were condemned as vulgar, insignificant trivia. However, in spite of this judgment, interested patrons bought everything displayed on the gallery walls. Regardless of the reasons why, in the art marketplace, Lichtenstein had become a riproaring success. With the passage of the years, events have turned around. More and more, Lichtenstein has come to be respected as an important artist. Gradually, the impact of his art on other painters became ever more firmly established. Currently, examples of his work are in the permanent collections of both major museums the whole world over and countless private connoisseurs. At this time, a superb retrospective of his accomplishments is on tour to prominent venues in America and abroad. On October 14, 2012, it will open at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. after the closing of its first stop in the Art Institute of Chicago. It will then remain in D.C., on public view, until January 13, 2013. Initially, one of the principal complaints about Lichtenstein’s idiom was the observation that he merely copied existing images and, therefore, couldn’t be considered a truly original artist. As a matter of fact, this point was incorrect. Actually, his method consisted of altering, not simply replicating, his source images. The changes dealt with issues of scale and the

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elimination of details that he felt were not in harmony with his revision of an appropriated compositional concept. Lichtenstein also capitalized on the enlargement of the dots found in his signature-like use of benday tones. These dotted areas are employed for suggesting tones in the graphic images that appear in the huge quantities of printed material that are seen daily in the everyday world. In their own distinctive way, the painted dots are a fascinating, modern-day pointillism, serving as a design counterpoint to the lines and solid areas of color in his work. This traveling retrospective exhibition is the first since the artist’s untimely death from pneumonia in 1997 when he was only fifty-two years old. Sadly, the world will never know what else he might have brought into being if he had lived and continued to be as productive as he was before his demise. The exhibition includes examples from all the different categories of source material that Lichtenstein explored. Typically, they include his first canvas with references to the wellknown cartoon figures, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. There are also selections from such well-known origins as paintings by Picasso, Monet, Matisse and Mondrian. Additionally, visitors will be able to see examples of his take-offs from pictures of air combat scenes, romantic situations, brush stroke variations and assorted architectural details. For better or worse, Lichtenstein is part of a historic continuum in which an artist’s oeuvre reflects on the character of human experience in the world that surrounds him or her. Seeing his artworks, you can’t help but consider how contemporary American culture is touched by the ubiquity of pictures seen in print, through film and on TV. No one can help but be affected by these big and little images. They drive us to become attentive, amused and even sold on the purchase of

consumer products, the acceptance of political ideologies and even candidates for public office. His ironic compositions bring us close up to the brazen slickness and barren nature of much of the commercially dominant environment that exploits shape and form, frequently with half-truths, in huge billboards, commercials on TV screens, printed illustration and assorted point of sales promos. Implicit in many of his constructs is an interpretation of ordinary life trapped in a mass-oriented, profit-hungry environment. As his work tends to suggest, that world is often devoid of deep human sensitivity. Lichtenstein’s body of visual content, in all its colorful variety, functions as a metaphorical magnifying glass with which to examine the meaningfulness of life in a setting where premium is often placed on on slick materialism in preference to ethical priorities. A similar expressive burden is evident in the marvelous still-lifes of rather prosaic objects by several of the gifted Dutch masters of the 17th century and the extraordinary French artist, Jean Baptiste Chardin, in the 18th century. While Lichtenstein’s accomplishments are curiously connected with these pre-cursors, in the end, his language of pop-art vernacular form is his own. It is part and parcel of this time and place. And it is exuberantly eye-catching and disconcertingly illuminating. ■

Dr. Burton Wasserman is a professor emeritus of Art at Rowan University, and a serious artist of long standing. Dr. Wasserman’s program Art From Near and Far can be heard on WWFM in Central and Northern New Jersey and Bucks County and WGLS in South Jersey.


Opposite page: Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Whaam!, 1963 Magna and oil on canvas 172.7 x 406.4 cm (68 x 160 in) © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein Tate: Purchased 1966 Photo ©Tate, 2011

This page: Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Masterpiece, 1962 Oil on canvas 137.2 x 137.2 cm (54 x 54 in) © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Agnes Gund Collection, New York

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art

THOM NICKELS

Streets of Rainbows

The 34-building Praca Cantao Project in Rio by Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhass.

BEFORE I SAT DOWN with Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhass, the two artists hired by Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Project (MAP) to transform several blocks of Germantown Avenue into a vibrant colorful Oz, I stepped into a luncheonette not far from Philly Painting’s (the project’s name) central digs at 2400 Germantown Avenue, a makeshift office and hangout space for painters and MAP administrator alike. I had an hour to kill before my planned interview with the two friends who were commissioned by MTV in 2005 to do a short documentary on the hip hop community in Rio de Janeiro. During that venture the two men joined forces and achieved some fame with their transformation of the 34-building Praca Cantao Project in Rio’s Santa Marta Favela neighborhood. With no organized funding, or even a secret corporate backer, Urhahn and Koolhass took it upon themselves, brushes in hand, to change a mud-colored Brazilian slum into a kaleidoscope of light. The Favela’s boxy houses—usually described as ramshackle shacks clinging to dirt hills by a thread—had become, thanks to them, a series of cliff dwelling jewel boxes.Although the joys of omelette eating are nothing compared to tales of art interventions, I ordered a late breakfast anyway from a waitress busy telling a co-worker to stop shooting off his mouth “because this is a family place.” The luncheonette, like the street outside, was filled with conversation and talk. The mood, despite the humidity and the sound of a dying air conditioner, was so upbeat I had to wonder if there was some connection be-

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tween the color show going on outside and the mood of the people in this tiny place. After all, when a carnival comes to town—and Philly Painting certainly qualifies as that—residents traditionally feel some kind of perk. In the small unofficial office, Urhahn sits at a table going over numbers. His rich tan shows that he’s been painting a lot of outdoor murals, and his wife-beater (Kensington lingo) T-shirt reveals his penchant for body murals: a swath of intricate tattoos that look as though they should be on the side of a building. His tattoos were hidden the first time we met months ago when the weather was cooler, and when Mural Arts Press liaison Cari Feiler Bender, of Relief Communications, LLC., offered to pick me up at the Huntingdon Market Frankford El station—a central marketplace for heroin distribution and an area where addicts tend to nod out collectively, like a still from Village of the Damned—and drive me to Germantown Avenue, where I got my first look at the project. Urhahn was on the street making his rounds, conversing with store clerks and a few neighborhood kids-turnedpainters, all temporary MAP hires to help with the project.

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Albion, 2011, Judith Rosenthal. Porcelain paper clay, 11 x 16 x 16 inches. Image courtesy of the artist

Michael Budden, Winter Afternnoon-Farley’s Bookshop, 16 x 20, oil Evelyn Clothier.

Centennial Juried Exhibition Delaware Art Museum 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE (302) 571-9590 delart.org October 20, 2012 – January 13, 2013 In November 2011, the Delaware Art Museum began celebrating 100 years of supporting the visual arts in the community through its collection, exhibitions, and programs. The exhibition will feature a variety of media— drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, video, and installation—and include 97 artists living either within the State of Delaware or within 100 miles of the Museum. Guest-juried by John B. Ravenal, the Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, this Centennial exhibition celebrates the tradition of juried exhibitions in Delaware and the surrounding region while identifying the artistic trends that will characterize the region’s future.

Treasures Jewelry Sale & Show UPenn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology 3260 South Street, Philadelphia (215) 898-9202 wcpennmuseum.com October 26-28

As part of its Diamond 75th Anniversary celebration, the Women’s Committee of the Penn Museum is bringing back the annual Treasures show Oct. 26-28, 2012. Sponsored by Tiffany & Co., Treasures is evolving from the high-end antique, accessories and furnishings market of years past into a curated shopping event featuring a handpicked selection of antique, vintage and high-end jewelry from more than two dozen exhibitors. The show takes place in the Museum’s soaring Chinese Rotunda and Asian and Egyptian galleries, alongside priceless ancient artifacts. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit wcpennmuseum.com or call 215-898-9202.

Familiar Places Michael Budden and César A. Jerez Travis Gallery 6089 Lower York Road, New Hope, PA 18938 215-794-3903 TravisGallery.com Wednesday-Saturday 10-5 October 6-27 Reception 10/6, 5-8PM and 10/7, 12-4PM. Interested in pursuing Autumn's First Light or Evening Over New Hope? Why not spend it with friends, literally, at Travis Gallery in New Hope. The two-artist show will feature the Delaware Valley landscapes and NY cityscapes of Michael Budden and César A. Jerez. Reminiscent of the New Hope art colony where Lathrop and Redfield recorded the realisms of bold and fresh or delicate and vibrant, colleagues Budden and Jerez solidified their friendship and plein air work during a summer spent on Monhegan Island, Maine. Budden describes his work as Impressionistic Realism with a finishing brushstroke. “Good art always comes down”to your basic underlying structure.” For his “Foggy Evening, Brooklyn Bridge,” Budden also added a soft, moody effect and finished the 2012 Laumiester Fine Art Competition’s top prize by simply “listening to my gut.” Of his Abstract Realism, César A. Jerez recommends viewing his oils on linen up close; then take in the essence, step back and his deeper truth unfolds. For instance, Jerez’s “Lady in the Garden” hints of Monet, yet in fact, is based on the Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne, NJ, where the prior owner strolls, contentedly, through 75’ tall pines of her own 30-acre sanctuary.

Cauda Equina, 2007, Keith W. Bentley. Hand knotted horse hair, fabric, resin, and foam, 76 x 24 x 63. Image courtesy of the artist.

Whitney Abrams.

The Promise We Are Given, Leads To The Burden We Become, 2010, Morgan Craig. Oil on linen, 51 x 67. Image courtesy of the artist.

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Judith Kaufman.

César Jerez, Lady’s Garden, 24 x 30, Oil


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cinematters

PETE CROATTO

The Paperboy IN THE PAPERBOY, HIS follow-up to the critically lauded Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, director Lee Daniels distills the drama and feeds us the pasty, bland remains—and it isn’t the most depressing aspect of the film. Based on Pete Dexter’s novel, The Paperboy takes place during the summer of 1969 in south Florida, where social progress is a four-letter word. Intrepid journalist Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) returns home to write about Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), a white trash lowlife facing the death penalty for murdering the beloved county sheriff. Ward and his black partner, Yardley (David Oyelowo), believe the charges against Hillary were built on deceit. So does Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), who has become the inmate’s beloved following a jailhouse correspondence. The driver for this trio is Ward’s younger brother, Jack (Zac Efron), a moody college dropout. It’s a menial job with a large emotional burden. Jack can’t spend time with Ward, who is strangely devoted to Yardley and consumed by the story. He falls hard for Charlotte despite her constant rebuffs and warnings. But Jack can’t help himself. As the Jansen family maid puts it: Charlotte is a high-school girlfriend, mother, and Barbie doll all rolled into one. Screenwriters Daniels and Dexter expertly set traps that add intrigue and spice to the “race against time” plot before spending an hour steering us away from them. They randomly decide what subplot interests them, but never settle on which one takes priority so the story starts and stalls and caroms—kind of like broken bumper cars. We get so disoriented that we never know where to invest our time. Despite the activity and displaying his exploitative touch with some rough sex and grisly violence, Daniels’ pacing is positively pedestrian. Perhaps it’s atonement for the lack of urgency. Every big reveal in The Paperboy is explained away or squeezed into a quickly summoned scene that fits right into the film’s short-attention span. A movie like this needs electricity and slowly escalating anticipation. Daniels occasionally summons the over-the-top drama of Precious, like when Hilary and Charlotte drive each other wild (without touching each other) during a prison visit. But we keep wondering why we’re so bored. Look no further than Anita (Macy Gray), the aforementioned maid, who also serves as the film’s narrator. The way Dexter and Daniels define her is disastrous, almost as bad as if the actors were instructed to speak every other line in gibberish. If the character is not stating what we already know (Jack’s love for Charlotte), she is slaughtering any dramatic potential. A major plot twist involving Ward and Jack that would have benefitted from acting has its conflict and resolution neatly summarized by Anita. Who cares that she’s recalling the twisty tale perfectly for someone who was only peripherally involved? Her existence here confuses me, unless the three people who haven’t seen or read The Help need to understand the plight of Southern black domestics in the 1960s. The maid’s omnipresence may signal Daniels’ lack of confidence in Efron, who is attempting more mature roles after graduating from High School Musical. Every emotion is assigned to Jack via Anita’s memories, and the script avoids running the action through Jack though he’s the best candidate to tell the story. It’s probably the right decision, even if it halves the movie’s I.Q. Efron again proves that he lacks the adult intangibles that separate handsome men from leading men. That might explain why Daniels has the actor (who turns 25 this month) in his underwear for most of the film—or attacked by jellyfish. Any pleasures in The Paperboy you hang onto with grim desperation: Cusack as psychotic swamp trash; McConaughey playing his fourth complex role in 2012 after years of romantic claptrap; Kidman moaning and groaning as a southern-fried trollop, even though her longtime friend Naomi Watts would have set the screen on fire in that role. There are plenty of assets on hand. Everything else is missing. Anyone who sees The Paperboy won’t be part of an audience; they’ll be part of a doomed search party. [R] ■

A senior critic at Filmcritic.com from 2002 to 2007, Pete Croatto also reviews movies for The Weekender. His essays, reviews, and feature writing have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Publishers Weekly, TCNJ Magazine, Deadspin, and The Star-Ledger. You can read more on his blog, whatpeteswatching.blogspot.com.

John Cusack.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman.

keresman on film

The Master

THE LATEST FILM BY auteur Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master, is beautifully shot with a fab soundtrack and features one of our day’s very best actors at or near the top of his game. Yet there were moments I wanted to shut my eyes and drift away. The Master is compelling, but I’ll be goshdarned if I can discern its point (assuming that indeed there is one). It had great characters, but thematically or storywise, there was little there. It’s likely P.T. Anderson has fallen victim to David Lynch Syndrome (or, substitute iconic or toocool-to-diss auteur-type filmmaker)—simply, it’s when writer/directors recognize that the concept of their auteurism has precedence over quality filmmaking. More simply, it’s when an auteur-type knows (consciously or not) his/her “product” will be RAVED ABOUT by fanboys, fangirls, and art-film snobs the world over because his/her name is on it. Blatantly, it’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, but few will “dissent” aloud because they don’t want to be seen as un-hip philistines. (Kind of like when Dean of Rock Critics Robert Christgau went gaga for rapper Eminem, which was odd because in the past even the slightest hint of sexism would raise RG’s hackles.) The time and place: The Pacific at the end of World War II. Joaquin Phoenix is Freddie Quell, a Navy sailor with mental and/or emotional difficulties (gee, there’s an acting stretch for you—JP as a mumbling nutcase)—it’s implied that this “happened” as a result of combat experiences but it’s also stated that Quell came from a rather screwed-up home life. Quell cannot control his emotions well—if anyone pisses him off for any reason, he’ll explode into sloppy violence. Consequently, he ends up drifting from job to job, and per-

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haps the lure of The Sea beckons—Quell stows-away on a pleasure boat under the command of Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a man-for-all-seasons who is the CEO of The Cause, a cult, excuse me, consciousness-raising organization that vaguely resemble Scientology. (Scientology has “audits,” The Cause has “processing”—coincidence?) Hoffman plays him as a benign, charismatic Big Daddy overflowing with concepts that take elements of L. Ron Hubbub, primal scream (remember that?), rebirthing, and assorted other beall-you-can-be, reject-alien-contamination mumbo-jumbo. Quell falls under the sway of Dodd, and becomes a “soldier” in his cause. (Sometimes to the consternation of Master, who prefers to talk his prey into submission, whereas Quell wants to bitch-slap the offending parties into next week). That’s pretty much the movie. We get to see assorted interactions between Dodd and Quell, Dodd and his wife Peggy (Amy Adams), Dodd and his upper-class clientele, Dodd and an acolyte played by an under-used Laura Dern…Dodd articulately and self-assuredly oozes bullshit, and most people lap it up. And, Phoenix lumbers around, acting twitchy and repeating assorted mannerisms (hands on hips, walking ‘round like a hunchback, laughing with little or no provocation, etc.). It’s unclear why Dodd keeps the boozing, inarticulate, volatile loose cannon like Quell around, unless he sees him as a “challenge” for his brand of help. For Quell, it’s fairly obvious that Dodd gives him something to belong to, a comfort zone where he is (almost) accepted as is. But…where’s the “there”? There are too many “holes” in The Master. How did Master get to be the toast of the wealthy seekers? We know he’s an “author” but was he a “re-

spected”-type author or simply a well-known hack? How popular/widespread is his movement? What part, if any, did his wife play in his success? There’s one short, intense scene in which she advises Dodd to “attack” his critics/opponents in a manner that suggested she was really “the brains” behind Dodd, but then nothing came of it. [slight spoilers] Dodd is arrested, but is quickly sprung and we don’t know if it has any affect on Dodd’s “campaign” to save humanity. There’s a brief scene where Dodd’s son tells Quell that Dodd is “making it up as he goes along,” and nothing came of that either. (i.e., is Dodd’s son a dissenter, loyal, or just along for the ride? We never know.) Quell is in a theater, watching cartoons…and an usher BRINGS A TELEPHONE with a REALLY LONG CORD TO HIM INTO THE THEATER? (The setting is circa 1950, mind you.) Scenes come, scenes go...loaded with great acting, but we never get to know much about the charismatic Dodd (does he believe his own BS or is he simply a classy scammer?), how he is perceived beyond his inner circle (aside from the wealthy prey, that is), or even the make-up of his “flock.” Are they middle-, lower-, and/or upper-class types, well-educated or grade-school dropouts? Again, who knows? But we do get to see so many, many facial close-ups of P. S. Hoffman and (especially) Joaquin Phoenix. The Master is, regrettably, a shining triumph of style over substance, great acting and cinematography at the expense of a good movie. ■ In addition to ICON, Mark Keresman is a contributing writer for SF Weekly, East Bay Express, Pittsburgh City Paper, Paste, Jazz Review, downBeat, and the Manhattan Resident.


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bad movie

MARK KERESMAN

Arbitrage and Take This Waltz The rich really are different from you and me WELL KIDDIES, THE CRAP-KEEPER is back, but this month’s Bad Movie entry is a little bit different. The movies in question feature fine actors (mostly), decent-to-inspired direction, and engaging stories…yet at the core of each, something is very, very wrong.

Susan Sarandon and Richard Gere.

The definition of arbitrage is “the simultaneous purchase and sale of an asset in order to profit from a difference in the price.” Richard Gere plays Robert Miller, a hedge-fund guy that basically moves other people’s money around (lots). Like a better-looking version of that notorious imp Bernie Madoff, Miller—a character that has everything, including a lovely wife (Susan Sarandon), a lovely daughter that works for him (Brit Marling, Another Earth), and a hot French artist for a mistress—plays a little fast ‘n’ loose with “assets,” to the tune of being $400 million short. That, Dear Readers, is enough scratch down the rabbit hole to land him in the Graybar Hotel (i.e., jail) for many years. Miller is trying to sell the company before his little rascality is discovered. Complicating things is his mistress, who is getting tired of waiting for Miller to leave Mrs. Miller. (Golly, where have we seen this in a movie before?) In a traffic accident, artist-mistress (Laetitia Casta) is killed and Miller leaves the 22

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scene oozing fear. The rest of the film is Miller juggling his sleazy secrets, trying to keep them from being uncovered by his family, peers, and a slightly Columbo-esque police detective played by Tim Roth. Gere is, as you’d expect, a charming gray fox of a protagonist. Sarandon is her usual excellent self, Marling is a little bland but has potential, and Gere’s crafty, not-quiteMachiavellian attorney is acted wonderfully by Stuart Margolin, best known for playing the weasel-y Angel on The Rockford Files. So what’s to complain? The screenplay by director Nicholas Jarecki presents Miller as an anti-hero of sorts, a just-plain-multi-zillionaire trying to make it through a rough patch. In The Killer Inside Me, we see from the protagonist’s viewpoint that he is a ruthless, self-absorbed bastard of a sociopath. We duh Audience do not “like him” but he’s fascinating nonetheless. Arbitrage displays a truly appalling character in a somewhat sympathetic light. Is he a well-meaning businessman that got in over his head (via a chance to MAKE LOTS OF LUCRE, i.e., greed) but got screwed by a changing political landscape and now must scramble to survive, or is he a high-class con man, a conniving, conscience-free shitheel in a $9,000 suit that gets to appear on CNBC as a Mr. Upstanding Captain of Industry? What do you think? Most all the movies about the Great Economic Upheaval of the past few years—Cosmopolis, Margin Call, The Company Men—have been from the RICH CAPITALIST GUYS’ POINT(S) OF VIEW. You know, the Billionaire Boys’ Club whose shenanigans instigated the whole mess, some of whom got BAILED OUT by Uncle Sam? Never mind all the not-wealthy and moderately wealthy folks that lost their nest eggs, life’s savings, and/or jobs. (Singer Carly Simon, to name one, lost millions.) But these gents have such nice clothes, cars, houses, and velvet-lined snake-pits, don’t they? Jeez, next there’ll be movies on how rough it is to be a ruthless dictator…no, not Sasha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator, but a serious drama. Oh, and the usually fine Tim Roth has this “Noo Yawk” accent that’s not to be believed. Take This Waltz is an indie romantic comedy about an unfaithful wife (Michelle Williams) having an affair with a guy much better looking (Luke Kirby) than her regularguy/slob-of-a-loving-husband (Seth Rogen). The radical right/Moral Majority types typecast (sorry, couldn’t resist) Hollywood filmmakers and actors as being “out of touch” with the way most Americans really live—they are often full of shit, no surprise. But if they pointed to Take This Waltz as an example of Hollywood out-of-touch-ness, I’d have to concur in this case. Waltz features characters that work at writing jobs that, in the real world, do not pay all that much, unless you duh Author are at best-seller level. Williams’ Margot writes travel brochures, Rogen’s Lou writes cookbooks, yet they live in (wait for it) a nice Bohemian-type house in a nice Bohemian-type ‘hood. The other guy in the triangle?

He’s a rickshaw driver. He must have a hell of a business to afford to live in a big place by himself. [slight spoiler] When our two lovebirds—who, by the way don’t really seem to have that much chemistry together—finally make that leap into cohabitation, they live in one of those MASSIVELY SPACIOUS LOFTS that seem to exist primarily in the movies. She writes travel brochures, he’s a rickshaw driver, and they

Luke Kirby and Michelle Williams.

live in a space that would hold ten of my apartments? As charming of a movie as this is, writer/director Sarah Polley made it clear she doesn’t know (or has forgotten) the manner folks that don’t pull a lot of green live. In this way Waltz reminded me of Rent, wherein financially-challenged hipster-artistes live in remarkably nice, un-cramped accommodations in one of the USA’s most expensive cities (guess which one). It also reminded me of Rent in that Margot is a bit of a selfish, immature dingbat. She gets herself wheelchair-ed through an airport (pretending her legs do not function) because she’s “afraid of being afraid” and “of connections.” Oy. I wasn’t expecting a “documentary” about How Real Folks Live but I was kind of hoping a personal-type indie film would provide a bit more foundation in real life than a Dolph Lundgren movie. ■


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reel news

REVIEWS OF RECENTLY RELEASED DVDS BY GEORGE OXFORD MILLER Ratings: ★=skip it; ★★=mediocre; ★★★=good; ★★★★=excellent; ★★★★★=classic

Maggie Smith in a scene from The Best Marigold Hotel.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012) ★★★ Cast: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley Genre: Romantic comedy Rated R Running time 101 minutes. Just as Prometheus searches for the beginning of life on Earth, this comedy explores what humans would do if they faced the total annihilation of life, and knew the exact date. The choice really comes down to two alternatives: wanton hedonism or living right and correcting past mistakes, not Keira Knightley. much difference from everyday life, really. When Dodge (Carell), an nerdy insurance salesman, learns that a 70-milewide asteroid will impact in 21 days, he doesn’t join his friends for one last hedonistic fling, he takes off on a road trip to find his high-school sweetheart, the true love he let slip away. Along the way he picks up his free-spirited, hippie neighbor Penny (Knightley) to help her find her parents. Of course, surrounded by doom and gloom, the two opposites find that a little romance can make even the last days on Earth thrilling. George Miller is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and believes that travel is a product of the heart, not the itinerary. See his webmagazine at www.travelsdujour.com.

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Prometheus (2012) ★★★★ Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron Genre: Sci Fi thriller Directed by Ridley Scott Rated R or sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language. Running time 124 minutes This classic sci-fi film asks the big, unanswerable questions: did God create life, specifically humans, on Earth, and why? With story and visual elements from both 2001 and the Alien series, Prometheus begins with the first humans and jumps to the future and the discovery of cave paintings that point to a distant galaxy. A space ship departs to search for our beginnings, but as often the case, you might not like what you wish for when you get it. The explorers discover the source of human DNA, and a lot more that raises more questions than answers. Well developed, intriguing characters, a compelling plot, and tremendous visuals carry the film, but the ending depends more on brute formula action than nuance. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) ★★★★ Cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson Genre: Drama Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language. Running time 124 minutes. Continuing the theme of what do you do when time is running out and life is short, this story follows a group of retired Brits who move to India to make their limited incomes

last longer. The strangers discover their dream resort is really the last resort of a young, exuberant optimist who sees only the best in the worst situations. The Brits all have their fatal flaws and dashed hopes, but eventually they rally with their own unique life skills and help the young entrepreneur save the dilapidated hotel and realize his life’s dream. This feel-good story, with the best ensemble of aged actors Britain has to offer, illustrates with verve that it’s never too late to find a purpose and live a fully engaged life. The Imposter (2012) ★★★★ Genre: Documentary drama Directed by Bart Layton. Unrated Running time 95 minutes. When 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay disappeared from his home in San Antonio, Texas in 1994, his family searched four years, but found not a clue. Then in 1997, they received a call from Spain, allegedly from their missing son. The American Consulate issued a passport and arranged for the boy to fly to Texas. The family rejoiced, but like a bizarre B movie plot, nothing was as it seemed. The FBI eventually identified the boy as a 23-year-old imposter wanted by Interpol. Not end of story. The saga investigates the life of the imposter and how he intertwined himself with the grieving family. The intriguing story pulls at viewers’ hearts as it rushes from one plot twist to the next fueled by lies, manipulation, and exploitation. The family’s heart-breaking roller-coaster ride of failed expectations reaches no resolution about the fate of their missing son. ■


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film roundup

PETE CROATTO Ratings: ★=skip it; ★★=mediocre; ★★★=good; ★★★★=excellent; ★★★★★=classic

cerated the competition at the 1992 Summer Olympics en route to a gold medal and international stardom. Among its opponents was a talented team from the newly independent Lithuania, whose presence was a political and social triumph. Interviewing former Lithuanian players and politicians, Markevicius demonstrates how basketball infused Lithuania’s citizens with dignity and pride, rarities in Russia’s oppressive rule. The Olympics showcased Lithuania’s individuality—Grateful Dead-influenced attire aside—to the rest of the world just two years after its bloody standoff with the Russian army. The Other Dream Team springs patriotism and freedom from the confines of history books and parades. They can only occur when the oppressed demand to be treated like human beings. History has rarely felt this personal. And few sports films possess such inspirational purity. One of the year’s best documentaries. [NR] ★★★★ Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (Dir: Lisa Immordino Vreeland). As the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, Vreeland (1903-1989) shaped how the world viewed fashion, and not just by discovering iconic faces such as Lauren Bacall and Twiggy or introducing the bikini to the shocked masses. Her forward thinking and story sense transformed fashion magazines from lush catalogues into artistic endeavors. (The movie’s title refers to how Vreeland thought people should ideally read a magazine.) Fashion became a living thing. Clearly made with good intentions and soft corners by Vreeland’s granddaughter-in-law, the documentary is essentially a collection of friends, family members, and colleagues swapping war stories. Joel Schumacher describes Vreeland enthusiastically watching Chinatown in a Harlem movie theater; Ali MacGraw recalls the fear and respect she had working as Vreeland’s assistant, and then disciplines her pet. (We hear Vreeland’s perspective through news footage and interviews with author George Plimpton, who assisted on her memoir.) But for someone who was as brazen and bawdy—really, one of America’s last great dames—a loving approach works just fine. [PG-13] ★★★

Diana Vreeland, photographed by Harry Benson, New York, 1980.

The Oranges (Dir: Julian Farino). Starring: Hugh Laurie, Leighton Meester, Oliver Platt, Allison Janney, Catherine Keener, Adam Brody, Alia Shawkat. Too much rind, not enough fruit. David and Paige (Laurie, Keener) and Terry and Carol (Platt, Janney) have been neighbors and friends for years. Separately, the two couples struggle. David is spending more nights sleeping in his man cave, while Carol ignores the tech-obsessed Terry. The northern Jersey suburban façade starts crumbling when Terry and Carol’s heartbroken daughter, Nina (Meester), returns home for the holidays and bonds with the vulnerable, lonely David. Writers Ian Helfer and Jay Reiss’ script abounds with good potential 26

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storylines: a wacky comedy of keeping up appearances, an ode to midlife renaissance, the woe of being young and in the suburbs (sporadically narrated by Shawkat). It doesn’t mean they had to use all of them. That misguided ambition shortchanges the emotional complications of David and Nina’s tricky relationship while shackling the actors—including the perennially marvelous Keener. Only Janney’s clucking crazed mother hen performance breaks free. [R] ★★ The Other Dream Team (Dir: Marius A. Markevicius). The Dream Team, that collection of American basketball legends headlined by Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, evis-

Francine (Dirs: Brian M. Cassidy, Melanie Shatzky). Starring: Melissa Leo, Victoria Charkut, Keith Leonard. Refreshingly sparse, concise character study stars Leo as the title character, a stoic middle-aged woman who relocates to a rural small town straight from prison. The new life is a big adjustment. Strangers and new places intimidate Francine into silence. Small talk and eye contact are painful. She finds comfort in the bucolic surroundings and comes alive around animals, a passion that mutates into something bigger and perhaps poisonous. Light on dialogue or obvious conflict, Cassidy and Shatzky string together short scenes to create a portrait of a perpetually defeated woman struggling to find the sliver of light in a bleak life. The haunting, moving film is held together by Academy Award-winner Leo (Frozen River, The Fighter), who manages to convey tenderness and toughness without swallowing the scenery whole. Really, it’s a miraculous performance, providing heart and soul to complement the credible, working-class grittiness. [NR] ★★★


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interview

JACK BYER

Dylan Ratigan He was once a “believer.” Now he’s out to bust bought politicians and disclose securities fraud.

IN HIS BOOK GREEDY Bastards, in his blogs, cross-country tours and on his MSNBC talk show, Dylan Ratigan has inspired change by promoting reform movements like Get Money Out! and the Campaign for Primary Accountability. He champions highly creative approaches to problems by people who think outside the box. Like Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, who has brought down emergency room costs by millions of dollars in Camden, New Jersey by giving extra help (often at home) to those patients who are costliest to the system. So I set out to interview this Dylan Ratigan that people admired—or disdained. And found him blunt, pugnacious, passionate— and almost impossible to interview. It was like trying to control a fire hose! Ask a question, get an oration. You hold tight and wait for him to tire. And the wait could be very, very long. Soon my head began to spin as he attacked, with ever-expanding rhetorical passion, rapacious bankers, brainless politicians (of both parties), and corporate fat cats. The reward, though, was the power of his insights. A month after we spoke, Ratigan announced he was leaving his very successful MSNBC show and leaping into…he wasn’t quite sure. To his critics, who snidely dismiss him as Dylan “Rantigan” (his Howard Beal “I’ve had enough” meltdown on MSNBC went viral on YouTube), his quitting was further evidence that he was nutty. But Ratigan claims that crusaders with his fervor to change the culture, need to “act, not speak.” If his “actions” are anything like his powerful oratory, there’s no telling what changes the power structure may be in for.

A TV show is like a store where you sell information. What’s happened is that the inventory of information we present is garbage. It’s all rotten apples. The store is either all about the storekeeper or it’s about shiny objects that are cheap and useless that we sell to the people in the mall. What I set out to do was to take over one of those stores and to upgrade the quality of information. It’s been excruciating. The frustration is not from MSNBC, but from the fact that the President to the head of the Republican party through all the networks and all the blogs have framed the conversation as a battle between two groups for power. I have no interest in being a commentator on a battle between two corrupt groups exchanging power by means of 200 people’s money and ten percent of the people’s votes. It’s like covering the World Series when you believe there are steroids in baseball. If I devote my political energy to a hollow moral debate of the Buffet Rule versus the Ryan Plan, I just help somebody accumulate power, but I haven’t done anything to help my country or myself. But if I encourage collaborative problem-solving, innovation, and the greater use of our technology to enhance visibility, integrity, and choice, I am more meaningfully engaged as a citizen of the United States and as a television host.

Phony controversy and demagoguery seem an inevitable part of the politico-media circus. Have you felt the pressure to conform to the pattern on The Dylan Ratigan Show?

You have a very optimistic outlook. You actually believe we’re on the verge of “an explosive renaissance of solutions.”

There aren’t any shortcuts to a just democracy. You will only have a just democracy when you acknowledge the problem which is that you have 200 people buying your election and your candidates are chosen in uncontested primary elections by less than ten percent of the population.

You’ve been accused of fomenting class warfare and socialism. Was Teddy Roosevelt a socialist when he wanted to break up J.P. Morgan and Standard Oil? I look at myself through that lens. I want a small government that will retain risk. The most American thing we could do is break up these gigantic influences and restore retained risk and collaboration to solve our problems. You want to know my politics, there you are. You’ve been very supportive of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The Occupy movement correctly identified the problem, but they have not yet correctly identified how to respond. As long as the response is to fight with them, you’re done. You’re either awake looking for answers or you’re asleep and you’re looking for a fight.

was four. My mother was a survivor for our benefit. Her priorities were having a quality community around us at all times that valued healthy living and learning. So my early definition of a healthy life was one that was decent and honest. I believed that if you worked hard, you could advance yourself. Community and creativity are the most valuable things that we have. The New York Times referred to you as “a man who, until recently, hosted a stock-picking show on CNBC, the cable personification of Wall Street.” They called you “a financial news apostate who has transformed himself.” Is it a fair description? Are you a reformed stock market pusher? I’m not a perfect person. I believed a certain narrative and it was wrong. I was the M&A [mergers and acquisitions] reporter at Bloomberg when I was 26. I was on the phone with [former Treasury Secretary Robert] Rubin and all those guys during the Clinton era when they changed those laws and rolled out the whole supercharged economy and told us about the wonders of distributed risk. I believed them. So there’s my failure. When the distributive risk experiment that they started in 1999/2000 proved a bust in ‘07/08, they refused to acknowledge its failure and restructure the system. That for me was the awakening. Other people saw this as a scam from the beginning. I didn’t have that view. I said let’s see how this goes. And then when it failed, I said we have to put swaps on exchanges, recapitalize the insurance market, break up the banks. It’s not even that big of a fucking deal. Lawyers and bankers do this all the time. I was stunned when they didn’t put the swaps market on the exchange and didn’t recapitalize the banks. They just invented the 30-odd trillion at the fed and told everybody to relax. They let these people take all the retained income they extracted and they re-subsidized the casino. You shouldn’t be able to sell credit insurance without posting any collateral, which is what the AAA financial institutions were still doing. Treasury Secretary Geitner has declined invi-

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R. KURT OSENLUND

The Agony and Ecstasy of Hugh Laurie Known to viewers everywhere as Dr. Gregory House, Hugh Laurie has made a career out of balancing humor with drama, moving from a background in British comedy to become one of the small screen’s most honored dramatic actors. The blend of tones is apparent in his charming demeanor, and present in his new film, The Oranges.

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RESSED IN A SHARP suit and lace-up, boot-like Oxford shoes, Hugh Laurie looks to be caught between commitments, like he just trudged through a battlefield and is soon heading off to a dinner party. He’s seated with his legs crossed in a comfy chair at SoHo’s Crosby Street Hotel, where a press event is underway for Laurie’s new film The Oranges, a suburban dramedy that takes a cue from American Beauty and Blue Velvet, but assumes a milder tone while exploring the underbelly of domestic life. Incidentally, the room is filled with other chairs that are almost blindingly orange, and Laurie, true to form, doesn’t miss a beat. “Aw, you didn’t have to do that just for us,” the lean Briton quips. Laurie is accompanied by his director, fellow Englishman and TV vet Julian Farino, and a few of his scene-stealing co-stars, including Allison Janney, Catherine Keener, and Oliver Platt. Laurie is at once the clown and the sage of the bunch, spouting anecdotes about his fellow actors’ on-set habits, yet waxing poetic about the movie’s more complex themes. It’s a juxtaposition as seemingly stark as that of the actor’s outfit, and it also stands as an apt representation of the work he’s put forth. Laurie rocketed to fame in 2004 as the title character on House, a show that’s yielded him two Golden Globe awards, two Screen Actors Guild awards, two Television Critics Association awards, and six Emmy nominations. Though surely tinged with ample humor, House is a largely dramatic piece, and there’s typically surprise among unsuspecting U.S. fans who learn that Laurie has a long history in British comedy. With friend and collaborator Stephen Fry, Laurie starred in four seasons of Jeeves and Wooster, three seasons of Blackadder, and four seasons of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, all broadcast on British TV. He acted with the likes of Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson, and this after graduating from Cambridge University with a degree in...anthropology. There’s no mistaking Laurie’s special brand of bookish

R. Kurt Osenlund is the managing editor of The House Next Door, the official blog of Slant Magazine. He is also the film critic for South Philly Review, and a contributing writer for ICON, Slant, Cineaste, Fandor and The Film Experience. He compiles his work and posts other goodies at his blog, www.yourmoviebuddy.blogspot.com, and can be reached via email at rkurtosenlund@gmail.com. 30

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levity, which surely helped him to land his signature role. In person, he’s a sophisticated jester, far more animated than David, his character in The Oranges, who’s gently nuanced as a man in strange transition. Set in West Orange, NJ, the film concerns two families living across the street from one another, their every holiday and trek to the mailbox a shared event. David is married to Paige (Keener), while his best friend, Terry (Oliver Platt), is the husband of Cathy (Janney). When Terry and Cathy’s twenty-something daughter, Nina (Leighton Meester), comes home for Thanksgiving, she sparks up an unexpected affair with David, whose own daughter, Vanessa (Alia Shawkat), is Nina’s childhood friend. Needless to say, the awkwardness hits a fever pitch, with Paige eventually moving out and Nina moving in with David across the street. But The Oranges doesn’t make the romance something cheap and tawdry, nor does it simply play the ripple effect for laughs. In a rather surprising twist, the quasi-May/December relationship is shown as the real deal, and its ripple effect is in fact a necessary catalyst for castwide change. “I read the script and I thought it was very funny,” Laurie says, “but I also thought that it took people’s lives seriously. It took people’s feelings seriously. And it did it in a way that wasn’t condescending or judgmental in any way. It was very humane, I thought.” And that’s precisely how Laurie portrays it: straight, with an understated humanity. Leaving much of the comedy to his willing and able co-stars, he proves just why he kept Dr. House cooking for eight successful seasons, tenderly navigating the complicated mess in which his character lands. Is David really going out with her? What about his family? What about her family? What about his wife? Should he go back to her? And, if he did, would it be right? That Laurie provides honest emotional reactions to these quandaries, and still leaves room for you to hate David (without making you do so), is something of an accomplishment. “Hugh and I spoke a lot about the story,” Farino says. “It may make people uncomfortable, but it’s really about forgiveness and the ability to transcend things. It’s a universal concept that’s also very specific. I needed actors who could bring that to life, and I especially needed someone like Hugh to bring life to David.” “It’s a very delicate line to tread,” Laurie says of the movie’s subject matter, “and I thought Julian did it with elegance and grace. It is a tricky situation—it can be sort of haha-ha and not moving, or it can be a flat portrayal of people’s relationships and consequences. This is neither, and it’s an enormous thrill to be part of it.”

Just as Janney and Platt reunited after starring together on The West Wing, Laurie also had the comfort of acting opposite a familiar peer, as Meester appeared in a two-episode arc on House in 2006. Laurie doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge the benefits of the actors’ acquaintance, which did away with the pesky need to break some crucial ice. “It was a thrilling help knowing Leighton,” he says. “I knew that we could do it—that we could work together and play scenes together. She’s a hoot, and we had a wonderful time. I was personally very relieved.” Meester was no doubt relieved as well, especially considering she was in the hands—er, arms—of a well-mannered renaissance man. If Laurie’s comedic roots take anyone by surprise, those same folks will likely gasp at his string of extracurriculars, which span across a whole handful of mediums. He’s stepped behind the camera as the director of commercials and House episodes, and he’s written a wealth of articles for London’s Daily Telegraph. His first novel, The Gun Seller, which proved successful in the U.S. and abroad, has been adapted into a screenplay. In addition to composing multiple original songs, he inked a record deal with Warner Bros., and recorded a blues album, Let Them Talk, which dropped in 2011. What’s more, a documentary about the musical venture, a collaboration with Grammy-winner Joe Henry, aired on PBS. And yet, his serious creative output is ever-balanced with an abundance of comic playfulness, as evidenced by his filmography, which is peppered with voice work in animated movies. In addition to starring in the live-action versions of 101 Dalmations and Stuart Little, Laurie has lent his classy pipes to Valiant, Monsters vs. Aliens, Hop, and Arthur Christmas, not to mention episodes of The Simpsons and Family Guy. As always, the frequent burst of jovial fare makes a nice contrast to the straight-faced drama of Laurie’s career, and given his mercurial persona, it’s a bit of art imitating life. The mix is there again when he speaks further of The Oranges and its eyebrow-raising content, protesting its validity, but ending with a smile. “I didn’t have any trouble with the material,” he says. “It’s not Lolita, and I think it’s kind of weird that we need to explain away a set of circumstances that are actually considerably less difficult to digest than [those in], say, a film from 50 or 60 years ago. It’s a shame we’ve reached that point, particularly in a story that’s so palpably human, and in which no one is acting malevolent, and no one is seeking to dominate or exploit or make any sort of mischief. These are the great foaming waters of the human heart...and, yes, I just came up with that line.” n


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INTERVIEW BY A.D. AMOROSI

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALLAN STEGEMAN

All the Devils are Here The annual Halloween Ball given by Center City jeweler Henri David has become legendary for the costumes, the characters and the extravaganza “I’M A MANIAC BUT I’m OK.” That’s the same as it’s ever been for Henri David—44 years in the party-throwing business this autumn, 50 years in the jewelry-making and selling game, both with the name “Halloween” attached. As Hallows Eve comes around, the first name in dressed-up, attitude-free, come-asyou-want-to-be revelry is always Henri David and his delightfully decadent Halloween Ball. In 2012, it’s more of the same…only then some. The Strawberry Mansion-raised David was already hand-crafting his own Deco-inspired jewelry at a gothic-ish spot at 13th and South when in 1968, the 22-year-old youth tossed his first Ball at the nowgone Philadelphia Hotel at Broad and Vine. “I started it because I had nowhere to wear a good costume,” he said. “None of my friends did either. There were only folksy bars around town. I wanted a ball. There was no ball. So I made one.” That’s pretty much the story of Henri David’s life. He makes what doesn’t yet exist. He’s always a maniac. And that’s OK.

I called hotels and rented their ballrooms. I took my chances and did it. I lost my shirt for a few years and it was hard work but my friends loved it and their friends had a blast. They asked me to please do it again and again after that so it kept going. Quite frankly, it gave me something to look forward to every day.

TO START, THAT THE famously mustachioed emcee is a world-renowned jeweler (vocalist Stevie Nicks is a regular customer amongst other celebs and wealthy doyennes local and otherwise) often falls by the wayside when David and his audience set their collective mind to all matters of balling and costuming. People coming into October might forget that the master of macabre and merriment sells jewelry. Lots of it.

If A.D. Amorosi can’t be found writing features for ICON, the Philadelphia Inquirer, doing Icepacks and Icecubes (amongst other stories) for Philadelphia City Paper or appearing on NBC-TV’s The 10! Show, he’s probably hitting restaurants like Stephen Starr’s or running his greyhound. 32

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“Business is good,” says David. “I unlock the doors, they come running in and business booms—but yes, it is true. One of the jokes I like to tell is that there are more than a few people who come to my Halloween parties and ask, ‘Hey does this guy have a day job?’ Then they find out that, yes, this guy has taste all year round.” It may be a cliché or at least an axiom he certainly acknowledges, but he likes to make people sparkle, whether it’s through his annual Halloween Ball or his Halloween jewelry salon. Happily a Ludite who doesn’t have a website, Twitter account or much online presence (“online is my least favorite place”) other than what’s penned about him, David doesn’t deal with trend-conscious jewelry. “So many people are swayed by something that’s trendy and not what looks good on them. To me there are no rules.” He says he deals in personalized items—“real things”—that are meant to last forever. “There’s not more than one of any item in the store.” He wants you to come to his shop (“don’t be scared, we don’t bite”) give you his hand, tell him your story and know everything you do so that you don’t snag a ring on a bracelet on everything you touch while still managing to show off the stones he sets into each piece. “I don’t want you to wear it while washing dishes, disposing trash or making the meatballs.” David learned so much of his ethos from Wesley Emmons, the late great Philadelphia jewelry designer that created pieces for John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt and whose 16th Street salon is a bastion of brilliance. Emmons passed away last year at the age of 83. Not only did he leave behind a wife and children, but designers such as David, Doug Randall, Mike Delgado, Jean Spengeman-Jaffe, and Don Tompkins. “We worked under the same master and he taught us good,” says David who started studying at Emmons’ feet at the age of 17. “He taught us real. He taught us what will last and what will not. So many great people came out of his shop. I keep in touch with of all of them, the ones still living at least. Some of them went into retail. Like me, some highly private design, some into teaching. They don’t teach you what he did in school anymore. Nor do they teach you how to make a living at it. Making art? Art schmart. Making ‘art’ usually means that you can only wear it once.” If David knows so much about what young designers

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Henri David in two of his many costume changes.


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tations to appear on your show. What is the first question you would ask him?

riety of tax benefits and, so when I come back and break up all the big banks, for instance, everybody will be happy.

Why has there not been an investigation into the fraud in the securities that were transferred from the banks to the taxpayer? There is abundant evidence from the accounting firms that the terms and conditions of the loans given by the Federal Reserve to Fannie and Freddie were fraudulent. They were selling fraudulent loans and the banks knew it!

But who’s interested in having this conversation? Certainly not the candidates or their campaigns.

You launched GetMoneyOut.org to turn your frustration into some sort of definable action. You proposed a Constitutional Amendment to get big money out of our elections and reverse the effects of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which essentially allows unchecked spending by corporations, unions, and other special interests on political ads. Are you still supporting a Constitutional Amendment? There have been so many versions proposed by so many people. My issue with an amendment is it suggests one rule will fix our problems, which I believe is naïve and inadequate. Trying to pick an amendment is a distraction, a rabbit hole. It’s like fighting about the color of the bathroom paint. It won’t matter when the house collapses. England got money out of politics and shortened the election season and then it put Rupert Murdock in charge of its election. There aren’t any shortcuts to a just democracy. You will only have a just democracy when you acknowledge the problem which is that you have 200 people buying your election and your candidates are chosen in uncontested primary elections by less than ten percent of the population. So what’s your solution? Massive anti-corruption legislation. No more revolving door, no more secret money, no more voting on interests that your donors profit from, no more side-stepping judicial recusal. Close obvious conflicts of interest. Why should pols support reforms which threaten their jobs and the interests of the people who bankroll them and like it the way it is? Eighty percent of the politicians would rather not spend their time fund-raising. They’d be more honored to actually debate real policies. Lobbyists and the special interests would be most threatened by these reforms. So convince me. I’m a major donor to political campaigns—one of the six or seven basic industries threatened by these reforms. I’d tell you that the Constitution protects your ability to redress the government—nothing wrong with your hiring lawyers, writing papers, proposing ideas. Go nuts. But you can not transfer money on that basis. Your health care industry, banking industry, energy industry is going to be disrupted. But I’m going to give you five to ten years and a va-

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Millions of people in this country are having this conversation because I’m having portions of it with a lot of them. A change in the culture of problem-solving based on more visibility, integrity, and choice is happening. I see no signs of those changes in Washington. It will reflect itself in our government last. It’s an illusion that if you change Washington, you’ll change America. Russia had a full revolution in 1918 and the culture of rich people screwing over poor people stayed intact. Rules and money follow culture. Changing the rules won’t change the culture, but the changing culture will change the rules over the next ten to twenty years. There’s a cultural change going on in America. Conflict-resolution based on the principles of ruthlessness and compassion is happening. Ruthlessness and compassion? Ruthlessness to see the actual problem. If you don’t know where you are and where you’re going, you’re never going to get there. Denial prevents us from acknowledging where we are. Two hundred people pay, ten percent of the people vote. The rest is a charade and pro-wrestling theatrics of American two-party politics. And compassion? We did the agricultural-to-industrial transition over 40 years. We’re now in industrial-to-digital transition, and it’s happening very fast and that’s very stressful and unsettling. Those that don’t want to come will be dragged along and eventually will die. We have to have compassion for everybody who is used to a different way of being. You played high school football and rowed college crew. You’re now in a pretty tough game. What’s it going to take to win? In team-based activities, you have a clear mission and you can’t pretend you’re winning just because you don’t like the feeling of losing. Only in American politics can you pretend you’re winning because you don’t like the feeling that you’re losing. The only way to resolve a deficiency or despair, like I said, is action through a culture of visibility, integrity and choice. The mission is the basis for the decision, not the identity or the ego of the participants. Think of an O.R.—just because you don’t like me, doesn’t mean you don’t have to give me the scalpel when we’ve got somebody’s chest open. So we just need to get American politics into the O.R. Exactly. n

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and used as plan-view templates. A full-scale contour drawing could have been made from these directly on the swept-clean boatshed floor, from which measurements would be taken to start the building process. Shaping and fitting each piece of wood by hand, the workers would use techniques learned over centuries to construct a strong but flexible hull capable of navigating both coastal shallows and offshore seas. It gets pretty rough out there. You could look at those curved lines on the floor and envision the rake of the stem, the flair of the bow, see how the water would part, flow along the hull, and tumble home at the stern. When you know the secrets of the wood and water you can design a boat like the Donna Marie. She has distinctive lines—a raised forward rail that steps down at the wheelhouse to the deck surrounding the cockpit, like traditional Nova Scotia boats. But she doesn’t have the deep curving sheer from stem to stern that you find on typical lobster boats; instead, the nearly flat fore and aft decks are reminiscent of an early-century motor yacht. A touch of Hemingway.

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he Donna Marie fished for lobster way out on the continental shelf for up to two weeks at a time, a 36 ft. wooden shell protecting its crew from the dispassionate might of the ocean. Then she changed hands and spent nine months a year dragging quahogs, while hauling traps near Seal Island in winter. A decade ago she was being used just for dragging when the engine blew. The Donna Marie was put up in the middle of a field miles from her harbor, resting a few feet above the summer grass and winter snows. I painted the Donna Marie from the side of the road in a morning fog—not uncommon in the coastal regions. The changing density of the mist plays with the light as you work. It obscures and it teases, and you have to decide what you are painting quickly because it will be gone with little warning. Fog is about grays: bright grays and dull grays, cool grays and warm. The diffused light eliminates shadows, which are the principle tool for describing form, so it becomes an exercise in values and colors that make sense for the moment you are trying to capture. After two hours I could feel a rise in temperature. A flock of crows climbed from the grass and flew a triangular lap around us before settling back in the field. It took three attempts from memory to capture their random collusion so that they looked like birds, not splatter. Something was biting my legs. Each time I took a swat and looked back up the scene was different—contrast was expanding. A spot in the eastern overcast took on a silver tone. The far tree line emerged from the gray and shadows bloomed under brightening surfaces. The red trim of the Donna Marie glistened in the sunlight as the fog vanished into a brilliant cobalt sky. n Robert Beck maintains a gallery and academy in Lambertville, NJ. His exhibition, Homecoming, opens Oct 20. To view his work visit www.robertbeck.net


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should and shouldn’t know, couldn’t he be the man to teach them? Certainly, an academic life has been an option for him with several local universities having asked him to teach. David remains reluctant. “I’ve considered it, but honestly don’t have the time,” he says, considering commissions booked through June of next year, running the shop and living a life where he gets to explore the world, party and generally have fun. “I have a life.” What he does is welcome additional workers into his Halloween shop and encourages them to learn every day while on the job. “If they pay attention, be open to all experiences and welcome the opportunity to get their hands dirty, they’ll learn. What I don’t know—and I know a lot—I’ll find out for them. I know so much about antique jewelry in particular, a wealth of things, things about how beautiful jewelry was made by hand before machinery came into play. I hate to sound like an old fart but there was so much caring that went into making jewelry when there wasn’t any television, video games or computers. How the hell that happened to the business, I’ll never know”

“How the hell did that happen” is exactly what audiences in Philly said when David brought his idea of what a ball should be to the enterprise of October 31 in 1968 when several hundred of his friends paid four dollars to the Philadelphia Hotel up north at Broad and Vine. “I ask myself the same question every year—just like when it started,” says David. “Back then, there was nowhere else to wear a good costume, nowhere decent to go. It was all folkie bars or rec rooms.” David was spoiled early on, since as a young teen, he was privy to the flash-’n’-filigreefilled drag balls of Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens. These were epic affairs teeming with queens storming catwalks and working the stages of gaudy ballrooms across New York City’s five boroughs. “Each of those balls blew my mind from the moment I walked in the door,” says David. “I’m an inquisitive guy, so I always asked how they did it. The answer was always the same—a big drag queen telling me that they just called the hotel and rented the ballroom. So that’s what I did: called hotels and rented their ballrooms. I took my chances and

did it. I lost my shirt for a few years and it was hard work but my friends loved it and their friends had a blast. They asked me to please do it again and again after that so it kept going. Quite frankly, it gave me something to look forward to every day.” That’s never changed. The first of David’s Halloween Balls was at the now-long gone Philadelphia Hotel at Broad and Vine with two grand ballrooms at his revelers’ disposal. “The city tore that down.” Then it was at Town Hall at Broad and Race, a magnificent space with a ballroom and a full theater that sat 2,500 people and a vintage, working complete fly system. That theater is where the Philadelphia Orchestra used to record. That’s how fine it was. David took full advantage of both rooms by holding the party in its ballroom and his contest in theater. “Then the city tore THAT down.” So David hit the Drake Hotel, then the Warwick where it resided for thirteen years until it outgrew the 17th Street hotel. It then moved to the Bellvue and outgrew that. So David moved it to the Convention Center. “But the unions at the Convention Center drove me nuts and made me want to stab myself with their rules and overages so we moved to the Sheraton Center City where we’ve been ever since. Their ballroom is just as big and they’re nice people.” David builds the runway, puts up the spotlights and does everything that he can to make it a Ball and not just a dinky little lame party. “Most parties are to puff up the host and make them feel good about themselves or to get a lot of money for the building. Do they care for the partygoer? Not so much.” David lost his shirt on the first couple of dozen balls, started to break even in the mid-’80s, then actually made a little bit of profit by the early ‘90s—enough to buy a washer and dryer. “It’s not a money raiser, that’s not what it’s for. It’s why I keep the prices down and fight with the hotels and the unions to not overcharge for the food and booze. Pricey VIP tickets and special treatment? Go jump in the lake with a VIP ticket. Everybody is the same here and everybody is here for the same reason—to have a good time.” The centerpiece of the good time, the “biggest mutual admiration society in the city,” is, of course, the attitudefree, highly competitive costume party, with set divisions but enough room for new pop cultural heights of display (the year that Mommie Dearest came out David had to add an entirely separate “Joan Crawford” division because of all the wire hanger toters). When you go into that Henri David Halloween Ball costume contest, you will be judged. “I’m like a doctor all year what with everybody asking me what they should wear.” One person who never worries about what to wear is the legendary mysterious David who never reveals a hint of what he’ll wear. Even the twelve stalwart co-designers of his usual ten costume changes don’t know what it is they’re sewing. The tailors are given their individual pieces to make but never the complete picture so that they get to be as surprised by the result as David’s awaiting throngs. “It’s supposedly half the fun, coming to see me and how crazy I’ll be,” says Henri David. “But I’m awaiting my audience. I know they’ll be crazy in ways I couldn’t imagine. They always come through.” n Henri David’s Halloween Ball is Wednesday October 31 at the Sheraton Center City on 15th and Race. Advance tickets are only available at Henri David’s Halloween shop, 1329 Pine St, Philadelphia. (215) 732-7711. There is no website.

Henri David in his jewelry shop, Halloween, at 13th and Pine. Photograph by Allan Stegeman. 36

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HOTEL Modern Cuisine h Classic Comfort Corner of Swan & Main Lambertville, NJ 609-397-3552

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dining

ROBERT GORDON

VILLAGIO THE WINE-TOTING PATRONS counter an old saw. Restaurant quality, it’s said, tails off inversely with the number of tourists crossing a restaurant’s threshold. Hungry, captive shoppers will show up, regardless of food quality. Hunger trumps discrimination. Given Villagio’s location in a tract constructed expressly to attract tourists, the number of Villagio diners toting wine bottles caught my attention. This lovely, rustic region is the land that Wine & Spirits Shops forgot. Since there are several liquor-licensed eateries nearby, that means the wine-toters are destination diners, not captive tourists. Villagio set up shop years ago in the orderly retail conglomerate of Penn’s Grant, which lies across Route 202 from Peddler’s Village in Lahaska. Villagio’s interior is dressed in muted earth colors. Faux brown-gray stone columns accent adobe-brown walls that frame a space containing a large open kitchen and modern dining room. Brown, slat-back chairs ring tables topped with white linen. Exposed wooden ceiling beams traverse a ceiling lined with track lighting. The ambiance is pleasant. But there’s a hint of contemporary slickness that doesn’t strike a chord with the classic trattoria at Villagio’s soul. At its core, Villagio is a trattoria that turns out good Italian fare at reasonable prices. That’s the siren call to the wine-toters. The menu is extensive. Dishes are delivered with old-World panache, absent new-world experimentation or reinvention. The results are reliable, consistent, and very affordable. Antipastis run about $10 and include calamari fritti, and various frutti di mare like littleneck clams, sautéed mussels, and clams casino. Caprese salad, light and tangy, sticks to the classic trio of tomatoes, Mozzarella, and basil lightly treated with olive oil. Prosciutto wraps around fresh asparagus spears topped with melted Fontina cheese in a pool of Romano sauce. You can choose from more than a half-dozen salads each night. The Sicilian arugula salad (Insalata de Arance alla Siciliana) is stocked with huge fresh orange slices that glisten atop mixed greens drizzled with a light olive oil dressing. No fewer than 15 Pasta choices, priced from $16 to $20, are composed with different house-made pasta shapes. Gnocchi al Gorgonzola pools a bushel of fluffy gnocchi pillows in a gutsy garlic-infused cream made with Gorgonzola and Romano cheese. Pappardella is a fine choice of pasta for creamy pesto sauce dotted with flakes of garlic. Prosciutto injects spark to the pappardelle, as does pancetta in Fusilli Matriciana. The cork-screw-shaped fusilli is covered with tomato sauce sprinkled with Parmigiano cheese. By the way, be forewarned: Pastas are served in heaping portions. You might consider ordering pasta as an appetizer if you’re planning on ordering an entrée. Secondi piatti choices are Vitello, Pollo, or Pesce dishes. Pollo Francese is one of the finest renditions I’ve sampled of this popular dish. The egg-batter breading that clads the chicken (or veal) has an airy lightness similar to delicate tempura. White wine sauce with zesty citrus zip enlivens the chicken. Basa, a meaty, catfish-like Asian species, is served with shrimp in puttanesca sauce with a side of pungent broccoli rabe. Fish choices include Gambieri Arrabbiata—shrimp with garlic and basil in plum tomato sauce over linguini, and Salmone Casalingo—salmon filet baked with capers, white wine and topped with Romano bread crumbs. They’re good choices. But I recommend ordering your fish filleted tableside in the Mediterranean tradition. Aside from Chef Lo at Warrington’s Villa Barolo and Chef Sami at Chalfont’s Tutto Mario, not many eateries fillet tableside. Recently, I enjoyed branzino filleted tableside; a truly outstanding dish served with haricots verts, julienned carrots and potatoes. Desserts are Bindi-made, except for tiramisu, which is silky smooth and merits sacrificing some calories. Ditto for frothy, hearty cappuccino. So if you’re headed up to Peddler’s Village or Penn’s Purchase, and you’re looking to reward yourself with good, reasonably priced fare while you’re there, pack some wine for the trip. Some old saws don’t have teeth. ■ Villagio, 5861 York Road, Lahaska, PA (215) 794-2777 villaggioitalianrestaurant.com r.gordon33@verizon.net

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dining

ROBERT GORDON

Village Belle AFTER ITS BLEAK DEPRESSION-era days, Philadelphia unceremoniously shed one of its old history-textbook nicknames: the City of Neighborhoods. Industrial decay’s march blighted the cityscape for a few decades until Queen Village and other city neighborhoods started the process of re-gentrification. Queen Village has emerged as a handsome contemporary urban village and an ideal setting for Village Belle. There’s a chain of rehabbed townhouses along Front Street across the street from Village Belle. East of Village Belle, there’s a stretch of turf that runs from Penn’s Landing to the Delaware River. This vista is great for ogling fireworks over Penn’s Landing. An alfresco seat at Village Belle is even better. As for parking…well, in terms of Queen Village parking, the squeeze is on no matter where you are. Plan on valet parking, which is a bargain at $12. Frederick’s was the previous occupant of the building. Gaudy columns and accouterments from Frederick’s tenure are now history. The decor is toned down. The interior is open and airy. Large picture windows wrap the length and width of the dining room under a ceiling soaring several feet overhead. Girders clad in faux tin add a retro touch. Red-cushioned chairs plucked from Universal Studios in New York spiff up the dining room. Owners Lou and Joey Campanaro (Philly natives who grew up a few streets away) had plush banquettes fabricated and upholstered in the same color. The bar room with a vintage, century-old mahogany bar as the centerpiece is segregated from the dining area and popular with the locals. The bar specializes in Italian-themed cocktails scented with prosecco and amaretto. The wine list is extensive for a village eatery. There’s a roster of reasonably price international selections with wine available by the glass as well. The regular menu is divided into Salads & Appetizers, Pasta, Entrées and Sides. Classic Italian dishes predominate although other culinary influences creep in. As examples, there’s a side dish of Curried Lentils that flashes Asian heat, and a tasty hummus dish with some Mideast flourish. Pork Chop with grain mustard, herbed potatoes, and vinegar peppers is squarely American contemporary cuisine, as is chicken with dried cranberries and pecans sided with Brussels sprouts. The kitchen specializes in Italian standbys. Artichokes are fried to a golden crisp, zinged with parmagiano cheese, and sparked with lemon juice. Garlic walnuts and Gorgonzola cream add earthiness to Spinach Gnocchi. The gnocchi is dusted in olive oil and served golden brown and delicious. Clams Casino is prepared traditionally with minced onions, bacon and breadcrumbs. The fine mincing of the onions and peppers underscores the kitchen’s attention to detail while also scoring points for texture that’s superior to most versions of clams casino. Ask a Village Belle regular to recommend an appetizer, and he’s likely to rave on the Gravy Meatball Sliders. Three smartly spiced, smooth-textured beef/veal/pork meatballs slide between halves of a mini-hamburger bun for a filling, fulfilling treat. Pastas are the menu’s strength. Campanelle are perfumed with tarragon and bolstered with parmagiana. This bell-shaped pasta (campanelle means “little bells”) teems with wild mushrooms and peas. Crespelle (delicate pasta pancakes) presents a tender platform for ricotta and caramelized onion in red sauce. A hefty portion of pignolis lend nutty crunch. In Penne Caprisi, a brigade of sweet cherry tomatoes combine with penne pasta powered up on red gravy that harbors surprising, peppery after-burn. The Entrées section lists eight contemporary American choices, like Crabcakes, Striped Bass with wild mushrooms on white & wild rice, and Salmon with Curried Lentils that introduce a bit of Indian flair. Short Ribs are all-American fare. A generous roll of BBQ-slicked ribs stretches across one half of a deep dish with a frizzy mound of French fries studded with fried minced onions and green peppers rising on the opposite side. Swordfish Au Poivre melds peppery heat and lemony zest. A full slate of house-made desserts is available for a meal-capper or a late-evening snack. Village Belle service is friendly. An energetic, attractive staff cheerfully attends your needs and shares the menu’s ins and outs. All in all, Village Belle is a pleasant neighborhood eatery attuned to the Queen Village vibe—a worthy flagship for an emerging fleet of neighborhood eateries that refloat the city’s lost claim as the City of Neighborhoods. n Village Belle, 757 So. Front Street, Philadelphia PA 19147 (215) 551-2200 www.thevillagebelle.com Email comments and suggestions to r.gordon33@verizon.net 40

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HOTEL Modern Cuisine h Classic Comfort Corner of Swan & Main Lambertville, NJ 609-397-3552

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HE CALLS IT “THAT machine.” And when he walks past it in my home office, he gives it wide berth, as if approaching would tempt the fates and automatically spell trouble. My husband—my totally rational, bright, informed husband—is computer illiterate. By choice. We lovebirds disagree on the why of that. Vic insists it’s because he has no need of what “that machine” can offer. A retired judge, my husband still uses books to dig into whatever interests him. His newspaper reading—four a day, every day—is impressive. So why, he reasons, bother with this upstart with its blinking cursor and…well, complications. The Internet? Sure, it’s intriguing. But then, he’s got a wife who can take him there—and does when he asks. As it turns out, those requests are rare indeed. But the big one: my husband emphasizes that from what he has observed of my own alternating agony and ecstasy with computer life, he’d just as soon decline. And he raises a valid point: I do have a intense love-hate relationship with my Dell. When it’s good, it’s very very good, and when it’s bad—well, you know the rest. This man has watched me sputter and curse and almost literally tear my hair out when some mysterious glitch causes me to lose hours of work, or mystifies me for days. He has watched the chaos of a modem malfunction, and he has witnessed the volcanic explosions I’ve had with nameless, faceless, graceless tech supporters. My drama plays out before his eyes more often that I’d like to admit. But still…my theory is that Vic, and men like him, are actually operating under an old enemy: no need for change and perhaps some slight fear of failure mixed in. Like many men (and women) my husband likes a sense of control and mastery. He dislikes dependency. And computers are nothing if not controlling. We come to them as supplicants, and we pay the price for being human—and flawed. For all of his professional life, this man was able to solve problems without high tech assistance. Again, books and human interaction were his context. And they worked well. They still do. My husband is better informed than I am in important things: the state of the world, issues of philosophy, history and science. I, on the other hand, can Google with the speed of light, know where to get the best film reviews and recipes, and exchange jokes for hours at a time with old pals. Hmmmm....Come to think of it, I often don’t know where the days go. And I still don’t understand precisely what the European Union is. Over time, my husband will show me articles about the downside of the technological age, from frayed nerve endings to a lack of true connection that left many feeling not linked, but painfully isolated. I read them, usually without comment. So much of what he presented was…well, true. But when my husband retired, I thought my ace in the hole would be the lure of email. Now he could hook up with his beloved college and law school buddies, many of them regular computer users who left it to me to get their messages to the Luddite who steadfastly refused to join them. No dice. But the ultimate lure (or so I thought) was this one: there were three daughters out there who communicate almost exclusively via emails and cell phones. Except with their father. And each of those daughters has valiantly tried to convince dear old dad that it was time to take the leap. “I like to talk to you,” he always responds. And what daughter could argue with that? And the seven grandchildren out there, now all but the youngest computer-savvy and IM addicts. Same deal. So my husband lives his life minus cyberspace and lives quite happily, thank you. He is prone to point out that he has far greater equanimity than I do, and is calmer and more at peace. I point out to him that I’m also connected with the whole world, have the incredible gift of remarkable stashes of information literally at my fingertips, and can connect with friends around the world in an instant. Vic is not buying. And lately, I’ve not been selling. In a long marriage, one of the lessons learned is that trying to change a beloved mate is about as likely as choosing celery over chocolate. You lose every time. ■


about life

JAMES P. DELPINO

Overcoming resistance to growth WITH ALL THE TALK, lectures, books and seminars available we should all be progressed, enlivened, deepened, elevated, enlightened and grown to our maximum potential. We’re not, however, as individuals or as a collective, even near it. How could this be? With the internet we have access to the sum total of knowledge, science and culture of our entire history on the planet to guide and assure us on the paths to self-improvement and growth. Even with all this information there are still many issues and problems that are within our grasp to solve that remain unsolved. What is that missing variable that prevents us from activating our individual and collective potential for improvement? We psychotherapists refer to that missing variable as resistance. Even when people know what to do to help themselves, they more frequently fall into the same old patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. In general, people are more likely to repeat thoughts, feelings and behaviors than to change them. What is familiar is attractive even if it is not good for us. The draw to the familiar is one of the pillars upon which resistance rests. This urge to repeat becomes the habitual way that the self is kept imprisoned. Each repetition of negative thoughts, fearful feelings and self-destructive behavior only makes it more likely that the negative thoughts, fearful feelings and self-destructive behaviors will be repeated. And, so, on this viscious downward spiral we go. A complementary pillar to familiarity is the fear of the unknown. When things are unclear, many people feel paralyzed when it comes to decisions and/or actions. With the ambiguities of life come our ambivalent reactions to those ambiguities. Our ambivalence announces itself with mixed feelings. Mixed feelings have the same kind of paralytic effect as the fear of the unknown. Fear, ambiguity and ambivalence create a confused state that makes it nearly impossible to move through personal dilemmas. This confused state, also known as cognitive dissonance, creates two likely outcomes: The inability to make a decision because there is no clarity induces and/or increases fear, which results in elevated cognitive dissonance; and poor judgment is much more likely when there is ambiguity and fear present. Ambiguity and fear inherently and internally distort reality. Judgment, in the clinical sense, is defined as the ability to forsee the consequences of words or actions into the future. When judgment is clouded by distions it is much less likely to be accurate or helpful. One well known internal dynamic that prevents and/or inhibits growth is low self-es-

Jim Delpino is a psychotherapist in private practice for over 30 years. jdelpino@aol.com (215) 364-0139.

teem. A general sense of “not being good enough” characterizes the low self-esteem that operates like an internal saboteur to self-improvement. A harsh and critical regard for the self occurs in an internal place where love and the appreciation of the self ought to be. Many times self love or self approval is held hostage to certain conditions, for example, “ I’m no good unless I’ve been productive,” “I’ll hate myself until I lose those twenty pounds that make me unlovable,” “ I’ll be happy when I get that promotion,” or “pay off my bills,” etc. These statements all reflect conditional self-approval. Unconditional positive self-regard is one of the key elements that propels human growth forward; without this the journey is much more difficult, more painful and more longlasting. Low self-esteem is yet another pillar supporting resistance to growth. The notion of change is often heard as threatening and fear-provoking to those who would resist growth. A common misunderstanding about change is that it means becoming something different and alien to the self. In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth. Change means becoming more of who one really is. When the blocks of fear and self-criticism begin to crumble, aspects of the true self begin to reveal themselves as naturally as the petals of a flower open to reveal a formally hidden or covered inner beauty. In resistance, perceptions are distorted and hazy. They cover over what is essentially good and helpful to the growth of the self. Finding the goodness and power in the self is a process of “dis-covering.” Dis-covering removers the cover and the emotional blindfold. What is most changed is the slow reduction of the fears, thoughts and behaviors that make up the cover. That which covers the true self is what some in the East refer to as “maya,” or illusion. Self-illusion is a cover or veil preventing direct perception of what is true for and about each self. Resistance is the face of inner illusion outwardly expressed. Confronting resistance almost always induces fear. It is okay to be slowed down by fears, as that is natural for humans. Being frozen and paralyzed by fear is not okay. There are no shortcuts around fear. Working through fear always means facing it, even if it is a little bit at a time. Humans have a tremendous ability to change and grow in relationship to and with each other. When resistance to change is too much for a person, it’s time to seek out a mentor. A mentor is someone who can guide and support the effort to become more and more of the true self. A mentor is someone who has already attained the place where the resistant person is seeking to be. This is the way the best knowledge and wisdom has been passed down through the ages—it is transmitted directly from one person to another. ■

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footlights

DAVID SCHULTZ

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce.

SET IN MODERN DAY Bucks County, in a spectacular stone farmhouse (designed in perfect loving detail by David Korins), the first people to appear onstage seem to be a bickering husband and wife, but, in fact, turn out to be brother and half-sister. Vanya (David Hyde Pierce) and Sonia (Kristine Nielsen) have settled into a “Checkhovian” life of dullness, mixed with regret, and introspection. The irony of their professor father naming them after Chekov characters because he was fond of community theater—and the playwright, in particular, who struck a chord in his now deceased heart—is not lost on them. The two sit and glare at each in the opening scene, as they gently cajole each other in snarky repartee. Sonia mentions that their famous sister, Masha (Sigourney Weaver), an aging film star, is coming for a short visit. The mere thought of the change of atmosphere and impending visit puts Vanya in an uneasy emotional state. Masha arrives accompanied by her unannounced boytoy Spike (Billy Magnussen). All the chess pieces are in place and playwright Durang sets up a series of increasingly fractious scenes with the three siblings reacquainting each other as past hurts swim to the surface. The cleaning lady, Cassandra (Shalita Grant), barrels into the living quarters, spouting dire prophecies mixed with voodoo incantations. She seems to sense that things will be coming to a head this weekend, and sounds 44

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an ominous portent of things to come. Masha has come to host a costume party at a famous neighbor’s house and wants her siblings to attend. A young woman named Nina (Genevieve Angelson), visiting her aunt and uncle from a nearby house completes the group. All these folks get corralled into dressing up as dwarves from Disney’s Snow White, and Act I ends as they all traipse off to the party. Act II finds them collapsing back at the homestead after the party. We are not privy to what happened at the party, but Durang has a closetful of emotional fireworks in store for each of his lovingly crafted characters. They each have their own moment to shine and it’s here that emotions erupt. Witness Sonia, who receives a phone call from an unknown admirer at the costume party the previous night who had found her charming, and asks her out on a date. In a mere seven minutes, Ms. Nielsen creates an entire lifetime of insecurity and shyness mixed with a scant glimmer of hope that this late in life she might meet someone. The other insanely potent moment occurs when Vanya gathers his brood together, and with help from assorted members and Nina as the driving force, reads from his ode to The Seagull, and performs his own passionate version of Konstantin’s play-within-a-play. As Spike, the bored and bubbleheaded twit, thumbs through his iPhone during the reading, Vanya goes ballistic and it’s here that Durang hits his

homerun. Vanya goes into a twelve-minute tirade against the young and their infinitely short attention spans—and an almost operatic riff about what life was like before cell phones, computers and Facebook. He despairs of the here and now. Do you need to know a lot about theater history and playwright Anton Chekov to enjoy this brilliant comedy? Not by a long shot. This ridiculously enjoyable new comedy penned by Christopher Durang works on so many levels that not knowing anything about the Russian playwright has no bearing on your fun. However, if you do have an appreciation of the master you will enjoy it even more as Durang tips his hat to The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard. Director Nicholas Martin has marshaled his talented actors into a light as a feather comic gem…with an unexpected undercurrent of gravitas. That befits the ghost of Chekov, who would most likely have adored this eccentric comedy. n McCarter Theatre, 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ (609) 258-2787, mccarter.org. The production moves to Lincoln Center in Manhattan in late October.

David Schultz is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.


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regional theater This Is The Week That Is: The Election Special! Through 11/4 1812’s smash political satire returns just in time for the 2012 presidential election, ready to put Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to the test. Voters can look forward to a special ‘Election Pageant’ (complete with swimwear and talent com-

EDITED BY DAVID SCHULTZ

William Finn, Tom Kitt, Marvin Hamilsch, Sheldon Harnick among many others. Adapted by Charles Busch. Conceived by Aaron Harnick, and directed by Gordon Greenberg. Philadelphia Theatre Company, @ The Suzanne Roberts Theatre. 480 South Broad Street, Phila. (215) 985-0420. Giselle 10/18-10/28

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Extended through 10/14 It’s a lovely day at Vanya (David Hyde Pierce) and his stepsister Sonia’a (Kristine Nielsen) farmhouse in Bucks County, PA. But instead of spending the morning strolling through their cherry orchard, these wacky siblings have

The 49th Season of The Pennsylvania Ballet opens with the classic, and haunting ballet Giselle. This poetic ballet set in the Romantic era is filled with heart-stopping emotion.

Dave Jadico as Mitt Romney and Reuben Mitchell as Barack Obama.

petitions), hearing the candidates do some confrontational crooning in American Presidential Idol, up to the minute reporting from 1812’s ‘This Is The Week That Is’ news team, and, of course, a visit from the voice of reason herself, Patsy from South Philly. This ever-changing comic spoof on current national events and the local news, will, as always, change almost daily as topical events inspire its talented cast. 1812 Productions @ Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Street, Phila. (215) 592-9560. $22-$38. A Chorus Line 10/3-10/30 This “Singular Sensation” has garnered virtually every award imaginable, including the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize. This groundbreaking musical, set during an audition for an upcoming Broadway show shines a light on the hopes, fears and dreams of performers vying for a chance to do what they all know there were born to do. A Chorus Line is an enthralling and emotional metaphor for what drives each of us to achieve our dreams. Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by the late Marvin Hamlisch, and lyrics by Edward Kleban. This production is directed by Mitzi Hamilton, one of the dancers in Michael Bennett’s original taped workshop that inspired the 1975 Musical. Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ (973) 376-4343. $26-$96. www.papermill.org Stars of David 10/19-11/11 A musical adaptation of Abigail Pogrebin’s best-selling book is a snapshot of Jewish identity through interviews with some of America’s most recognizable public figures, including: Gloria Steinem, Leonard Nimoy, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Joan Rivers, Aaron Sorkin, and Tony Kushner. You don’t have to be Jewish to connect with this funny and engrossing song-cycle featuring original music by composer/lyricists

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Giselle tells the story of a peasant girl who falls in love with a prince, but heartbreak and despair follow. With a dramatic score by Adolphe Adam and choreography by the French master Marius Petipa, Giselle offers both the promise of young love and the tragedy of it slipping away, in one evening of stunning classical dance. Academy of Music, Broad Street, Phila. (215) 893-1955. paballet.org Seventy Scenes of Halloween 10/12-11/3 It’s Halloween night. Jeff and Joan, a young married couple, wait for trickor-treaters in their claustrophobic suburban home. As the night goes on, their unspoken desires and resentments bubble to the surface. Their life together transforms into a cheesy horror movie, filled with mysterious events, hungry ghosts, and verse-speaking monsters. Equal parts sitcom and supernatural thriller, this romp through the graveyard explores contemporary married life through a melange of humor and horror. Playwright Jeffrey M. Jones’ inventive, challenging play is perfect fodder for the fall season. This production is not recommended for children under 16. Luna Theater Company, The Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom Street, Phila. (215) 704-0033. $15-$30.

their hands full with a prophetic cleaning woman, a neighborhood costume party, and a surprise visit from their movie-star sister Masha (Sigourney Weaver) and her studly new boy-toy, Spike (Billy Magnussen). Comic genius Christopher Durang makes a spectacular return to McCarter Theatre with this hilarious world premiere that turns Chekhov on its head. Durang’s signature blend of neuroses and absurdity has never been more endearing....or relentlessly funny. See it here before it moves to New York City at Lincoln Center, and becomes a Sold-Out hit. McCarter Theatre, 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ. (609) 258-2787 www.mccarter.org The Exit Interview 10/19-11/11 Do things really happen for a reason? This raucous comedy breaks every theater convention in the book in search of an answer. Bertolt Brecht scholar Dick Fig has been fired from his university position and is undergoing an excruciating exit interview with Eunice, a droll administrator. As Eunice engages in small talk, Dick faces an existential crisis. Together, they experience divine communiques, lectures on science and religion, shameless advertisements, offensive cheerleading, and ever-closer attacks by a masked gunman on a rampage across campus. Written by William Missouri Downs, and directed by Seth Rozin. InterAct Theatre, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia PA. (215) 568-8079. n


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singer /songwriter Art Garfunkel ★★★1/2 The Singer Sony/Legacy Art Garfunkel will always be associated with Simon & Garfunkel, one of the most successful duos of the rock music area. However, that was just the opening act for Garfunkel, whose solo career in now in its fifth decade. Garfunkel, who turns 71 in October, looks back at a life in music with The Singer, a two-CD, 34song anthology, including a pair of unreleased tracks. It’s a collection that highlights his versatility as a vocalist—from folk and rock to standards and show tunes. Working with Paul Simon, Garfunkel demonstrated the power of harmony on the haunting “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” and the bittersweet “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright.” On his own, Garfunkel teamed up with James Taylor for a remake of “Cryin’ in the Rain,” the Everly Brothers hit, and joined forces with Taylor and Simon for a shimmering reading of Sam Cooke’s “(What a) Wonderful Road. The purity of Garfunkel’s phrasing is heard on his intimate reading of Jimmy Webb’s “All I Know” and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Some Enchanted Evening.” As an interpreter, Garfunkel had the occasional misstep, such as his attempt at Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” but he generally has a good ear for the right song. Van Morrison ★★★1/2 Born to Sing; No Plan B Blue Note Records “Got to get back into the flow,” Van Morrison signs in “Open The Door to Your Heart,” the spirited opening track on Born to Sing; No Plan B, his first album in nine years for the jazz-oriented Blue Note Records. Jazz has always been part of Morrison’s musical DNA, from his groundbreaking “Astral Weeks” LP in 1968 to his hit single “Moondance” and his love of scat singing. He continues in that groove on his CD. Morrison employs a horn section throughout that gives the music an added lift. The title track is a joyous celebration of music that recalls Ray Charles with its jazz swing. “End of the Rainbow” finds Morrison railing against consumerism and materialism. “Carrying coals to Newcastle, you’re going to get burned,” he warns. “Close Enough for Jazz” serves as a tribute to the art form and provides a platform to highlight his backing band. The hypnotic “If in Money We Trust” examines the collision between the spiritual and secular in society. The Blues Broads ★★★★ The Blues Broads Delta Groove The Blues Broads make music as memorable as their name. A distaff version of the Traveling Wilburys, the group is made up of Dorothy Morrison, Tracy Nelson, Angela Strehli, and Annie Sampson. A combination CD and DVD, the recordings showcase their talents individually and collectively in a November 2011 concert. Nelson kicks off the show

tomwilk@rocketmail.com

TOM WILK Ratings: ★=skip it; ★★=mediocre; ★★★=good; ★★★★=excellent; ★★★★★=classic

with a lively recording of her own “Livin’ the Blues.” Sampson delivers an impassioned “Bring Me Your Love,” which sets off some indoor fireworks. Strehli revs up some Lone Star State blues with her “Two Bit Texas Town,” a litany of her musical influences, including Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Morrison and the ensemble bring a gospel fervor to Edwin Hawkins’ “Oh Happy Day” and a soulful a cappella performance of “Jesus, I’ll Never Forget.” Versions of “River Deep Mountain High” and Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” show the group’s versatility goes beyond the blues. Augmented by a strong backing band and honorary Broad Deanna Bogart on keyboards, the Blues Broads demonstrate that in music the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. Harry Shearer ★★★1/2 Can’t Take a Hint Courgette Records Comedian Harry Shearer blends music and comedy to display his sharp wit on Can’t Take a Hint, a collection of 13 original songs that offers his views on contemporary life, modern celebrity and mass media, among other topics. Shearer, a founding member of and bassist for Spinal Tap, the satirical heavy metal band, branches out to other musical genres on the album with the help of special guests. Fountains of Wayne provides a power-pop sheen on “Celebrity Booze Endorser.” “Like a Charity” features actress/singer Jane Lynch on lead vocals in Madonna-like song on the pitfalls of celebrity humanitarianism. On “Trillion Dollar Bargain,” Shearer utilizes a Motown rhythm to examine the cost of the war in Ira. “Deaf Boys” employs a Gregorian chant to tackle the topic of sexual abuse of boys by Catholic priests. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is the target of Shearer’s barbs on “When The Crocodile Cries.” Shearer also shows his ability to write a straightforward pop song with “Autumn in New Harry Shearer. Orleans,” a tribute to the Crescent City. With Dr. John on vocals, the song evokes the evokes the mood and resiliency of the city. Iris DeMent ★★★1/2 Sing The Delta Flariella Records Since releasing three studio albums between 1992 and 1996, Iris DeMent has shifted her focus from making records to live performance. With Sing The Delta, her first album of original songs in 16 years, she demonstrates her songwriting and vocal skills remain intact. Delta continues her pattern of mixing country, folk and gospel sounds, but adds new elements as well. The title track, written after her mother had taken ill, recalls DeMent’s love of her native South. The wistful horn sections adds a feeling of yearning to the song. Questions of faith and spirituality have been a key component of her writing since the release of “Infamous Angel,” her debut album, and she continues to explore than topic. “The Night I Learned How Not to Pray” examines the impact of a sibling’s death on a young child when prayers go unanswered. “There’s a Whole Lotta Heaven” is a reminder of the simple goodness in the modern world. “If That Ain’t Love” and “Mama Was Always Tellin’ The Truth” show her power as a country singer with a salt-of-the-earth voice that connects directly with the listener. DeMent makes a welcome return with this album. n

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keresman on disc Carol Saboya ★★★★ Belezas – The Music of Ivan Lins and Milton Nascimento AAM For those not conversant with the pop and jazz styles of Brazil, the status of Ivan Lins and Milton Nascimento there is akin to that of Burt Bacharach and Carole King here in the

northern hemisphere. Brazilian-born, USA-residing singer Carol Saboya presents a clutch of tunes by these gents and does right by them. She sings in Portuguese and English with matter-of-fact warmth (not as composedly sultry as Astrud or Bebel Gilberto…not that there’s anything wrong with that) and heartfelt clarity. Her accompaniment has the invigorating simplicity and fundamental intimacy of a small-club combo (keys, guitar, bass, drums, occasional sax [Dave Liebman sounds SO luscious] and harmonica). “Beliza E Cancão” finds Saboya riding the sinuous groove her band lays down with poise and cool assurance. No classic, just darn nice listening for de-stressing and autumn grooving. aamrecordings.com Sean Rowe ★★★★ The Salesman and the Shark AntiEvery once in a while, somebody comes along who’s genuinely a bit…singular. Troy, NY’s Sean Rowe is one such; while you could find him filed under the “folk” or “alternative rock” sections, neither niche does him justice, really. Rowe is closer to the art-song tradition of Leonard Cohen, Scott Walker, Serge Gainsbourg, and Brecht/Weill, and his velvety-deep voice is rich with echoes of Cohen, Walker, Jim Morrison, Nick Cave, and even Mr. Welsh Tightpants Tom Jones. With its chilly Dick Dale-meetsEnnio Morricone-derived guitar twang-wail and galloping cadence, “Downwind” could’ve found a spot in the soundtrack to Unforgiven (or its sequel). The carnival-like “Joe’s Cult” and gothic ballad “The Ballad of Buttermilk Falls” are Grimm vignettes, David Lynch-ian audio dramas, Jim Thompson characters set to music—take your pick. Vividly and cinematically orchestrated, this is one Salesman whose wares you should sample. anti.com Russ Lossing Drum Music ★★★1/2 Sunnyside Drummers are often highly regarded as bandleaders and wielders of technique, but composers…not so much. Philadelphian Paul Motian (1931-2011) drummed for piano wizards Bill Evans, Mose Allison, and Keith Jarrett, along with leading his own bands. Motian was a drummer of exceptional subtlety, who brought a virtually Impressionist sensibility to his playing and compositional sense. Drum Music finds NYC-based pianist Russ Lossing paying homage to Motian the composer. Stylistically, Lossing is, simply, a “space man”—like Thelonious Monk and Paul Bley, letting the spaces between notes do the talking. “Dance” is a dark, bereaved gem, Chopin hanging with Tchaikovsky in a club with Evans. “In Remembrance of Things Past” has the translucent, elemental beauty of Debussy but with even darker undercurrents. Cerebral but compelling, Drum Music is recommended to fans of adventurous 88s. sunnysiderecords.com

Carol Saboya

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MARK KERESMAN Ratings: ★=skip it; ★★=mediocre; ★★★=good; ★★★★=excellent; ★★★★★=classic

Nicolette Good ★★★1/2 Monarch Self-released

Arianna Savall/Petter Udland Johansen Hirundo Maris ECM

Donny Hathaway ★★★★ Live + In Performance Shout! Factory

Spanish harpist and singer Arianna Savall (a voice like morning light through a snowflake) is the daughter of Jordi, ace player of viol (viola da gamba) and conductor of medieval, Renaissance, and early baroque music. So the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree—Hirundo Maris is a beautiful example of ancient music transmuted and transcending time and place. Her collaborator, P.U. Johansen, plays the hardingfele (a Norwegian fiddle-thang, to Norway what the

Long ago and far away—in places like NYC, Detroit, Hollywood, and even Philadelphia— singers sang and songwriters wrote what they sang, period. The only time you’d hear a songwriter sing was at a Cole Porter-hosted party, but not even then because you wouldn’t have been invited anyway. Then Dylan and those Beatles came along and combined the two. Ever since, we’ve been swamped with performers that tried to do both—some could and did, others did one and not the other. Here we have two of the rarer cases where each are/were boss at both. Nicolette Good is a San Antonio-based singer-songwriter, but don’t let the Texas setting lead you astray—she’s not “country” but country music does inform her approach. Good has a slight drawl and the some of the sandy bittersweet warble of Beth Orton, a bit of the phrasing and lyrical vividness of Joni Mitchell, and the haunting depth of the late great Sandy Denny. The instrumental backing (guitar, banjo, keys, clarinet) is spare, almost gothic (in the “classic” sense, not like recent “goth” youth). Pick hit: “Pretty Clementine,” which pounds and chills like an outtake from F. Mac’s Rumours. Monarch is a potentially sublime companion for a daylong, day-in rainstorm. nicolettegood.com Donny Hathaway (1945-1979) was a singer-songwriter whose collaborations with singer Roberta Flack took him (and her) to the tops of the pop and R&B charts in the ‘70s. He’s influenced Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse (in fact she and DH were haunted by demons that ultimately took them), and India.Arie [sic], among others, and now two albums, Live (made the Top 20 in ’72) and the posthumous In Performance (recorded ’70s, released 1980) have been reissued in one tidy two-CD set. Hathaway had a voice similar to Wonder’s but a bit richer, smoother ‘n’ deeper, with a bit more gospel fervor and he tickled piano keys like a pro (with echoes of Les McCann and Gene Harris—listen to “Voices Inside”). His songs feature extended jazz-influenced funk grooves that, if old-school you dig, are nigh-on irresistible. Aside from being a fine songwriter, he was also a helluva an interpreter—his smartly aching version of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” and jazzy take on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” are themselves worth the price of admission. At times the audience gets a little too enthusiastic, but really, can you blame them? shoutfactory.com Bill Wilson ★★★★1/2 Ever Changing Minstrel Tompkins Square In the early 1970s Bill Wilson had the chutzpah to knock on the door of legendary producer Bob Johnston (Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen) and asked him to listen to a song of his. Johnston reluctantly said OK and shortly thereafter Wilson found himself in a studio with some of the same Nashville crew that’d backed Dylan (on his ‘60s sessions) and Johnston supervising. Wilson’s Ever Changing Minstrel was released in 1973 and found its way into the obscurity of the $1.99 album bins of America. Damn shame, as it’s a mighty fine platter that stands the test of time. In fact, Minstrel might be more “at home” in 2012 than ‘73—Wilson, like Gram Parsons, prefigured the blending of folk, country, rock, gospel, and blues styles that the Hip We now refer to as Americana. Wilson’s slightly raspy, world-weary singing recalls Michael Nesmith, Guy Clark, and Jerry Jeff Walker, and like those gents has a knack for vivid storytelling in terse song-form. Musically, there’s keening after-midnight slide guitar, creasy/greasy harmonica, and mellow but purposeful acoustic guitar. If people still made mix-tapes, Wilson would fit ideally with Son Volt, Waylon Jennings, James McMurtry, and Lucinda Williams. Wilson clearly deserved better than he got—his time, belatedly, is now. tompkinssquare.com

Arianna Savall

banjo or fiddle is to the USA) and mandolin. Together with some fellow string-ers and percussionist, this duo weaves some of the most heartrendingly lovely tapestries imaginable. ‘Twas a time when the line(s) between “folk” and “art” music in history blurred (before that Spanish Inquisition made life dicey in those parts), when Christian, Jewish, and Islam got along better than now, when plucked strings and modal melodies connected South-central Europe to North Africa. Hirundo is beauteous simplicity made into compact form, and lovers of ancient tones (and modern acolytes Dead Can Dance and John Fahey) should legally obtain it asap. ecmrecords.com ■ OCTOBER 2012

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nick’s picks Fourplay ★★★1/2 Esprit de Four Heads Up Esprit de Four (Heads Up) is an album of soft licks and feathery sonic passages born from a long established creative template by the 25-year-old smooth jazz collective, Fourplay, comprised of pianist Bob James, bassist Nathan East, drummer Harvey Mason and guitarist Chuck Loeb. If it doesn’t reach the heights of their 2011 release, Let’s Touch The Sky, (that also marked Loeb’s debut) it certainly provides fans with firstrate tunes and lush harmonic passages that cater to sophisticated pop tastes. The sleek and lightly funky “Venus” and the title track, both composed by the one-of-a-kind tunesmith Mason, weave their melodies to tell a story with gentle twists and turns that showcase the best qualities of these veteran musicians—slick interplay between James and East, with masterful runs by Loeb and precise percussive fills by Mason. Reflecting the band’s and James’ huge following in Japan, Loeb’s superior lead off tune, “December Dream,” and James’ compelling instrumental version of “Put Our Hearts Together” written in tribute to the victims of the 2011 tsunami in Japan are the type of ear-friendly tracks that cross cultures. Other tracks (“Firefly,” “Sonnymoon,” and the imitative “Logic Of Love”) may likely play better on stage since the quartet’s upbeat live performances are built around virtuosic turns. But with each of their recordings, Fourplay always stands above their peers and Esprit de Four nicely reinforces their musical brotherhood, offering state-of-the-art smooth jazz for discerning fans. (10 tracks; 55 minutes) Anat Cohen ★★★★ Claroscuro Anzic Records The clarinetist and multi-reedist Anat Cohen has a sound that speaks in an array of brilliant colors. As a performer and leader, (she recently kicked offthe release of Claroscuro with a six-night gig at the Village Vanguard, a comfortable space that she called “one big living room”) Cohen knows how to pull a listener in, feeding on the attention of her audience as much as her quartet to rapturously blow through standards old and new and absorbing originals, too. She’s a charmer who connects emotionally and you walk away both thrilled and thoroughly entertained—all of which is nicely conveyed on the disc. In Spanish the art term “Claroscuro” means the play between light and dark and these are the sonic textures she weaves throughout the album, with an assist from a band of empathetic musicians—the grooving pianist Jason Lindner, ace bassist Joe Martin and a drummer with magical beats, Daniel Freedman. This fine group (all movers and shakers on the NY music scene) sets its rhythmic compass to Lindner’s vamp on the lead tune, “Anat’s Dance,” an melodious original with a grounded vibe that tips its hat to Cohen’s spirited flow and it defines the group’s overall dynamic. Cohen and her crew play tunes that fan out across cultures, spotlighted by the Creole Nick Bewsey has been writing about jazz for ICON since 2004. A member of The Jazz Journalists Association, he blogs about jazz and entertainment at www.jazzinspace.blogspot.com. Twitter: @countingbeats

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beat-step-beat on “La Vie En Rose,” an Armstrong infused gem that’s delightfully underscored with the vocal growl of trombonist Wycliffe Gordon who sits in here and again on the NOLA-kissed “And The World Weeps.” There’s Artie Shaw’s “Nightmare,” an imposing title for a rather affable tune (with guest clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera) and “Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser,” a Brazilian blast that flaunts a deep groove and joyous chorus. It’s a composition made famous in the ‘70s by Milton Nascimento, but the band grabs it for themselves with inimitable chops and fervor. Cohen has said “when you share music with people, it should always be a celebration. Making music with people for people, that is a gift. And there should always be joy in a gift.” Fittingly, the album closes with “The Wedding,” a tune by South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim that Cohen performs on tenor saxophone. With its backbeat and gospel flavor, the band adopts a soulful tone that’s reverential and wondrous, making room for Cohen to bring it home with love and happiness. (11 tracks; 67:34 minutes) George Cables ★★★★ My Muse High Note Jazz pianist George Cables is one of the great ones. As a composer, accompanist and leader for 40 years, he’s a triple threat with an appeal that can be traced through his extensive discography as a sideman—but it’s his key role in bands led by Art Pepper, Dexter Gordon and Bobby Hutcherson that has helped solidify his status. With more than 25 solo records to his name, Cables has not only performed with some of the biggest names in jazz, now he’s worthy of being one himself. My Muse is a trio date and Cables’ first gig with HighNote Records, the esteemed East Coast label with a focus on straightahead swing and a solid roster of performers like Houston Person and Cedar Walton. This debut could be thematically bittersweet since it’s a salute to Helen Wray, Cables’ recently passed wife and his partner for more than 28 years, but the music is righteously celebratory with Cables, bassist Essiet Essiet and drummer Victor Lewis romping through wonderful iterations of “You’re My Everything,” “You Taught My Heart To Sing” and “My One And Only Love.” The album is bookended by solo takes of Cables’ gentle “Lullaby,” a theme he always plays in concert along with one of his best known compositions, “Helen’s Song,” played here with a temperate groove that’s resoundingly uplifting. Elsewhere, Cables’ removes the treacle from “The Way We Were” and twists it into a cocktail lounge gem ala late 1950s Ahmad Jamal. My Muse is one of the best swing trio dates out there, superbly played and programmed with timeless music and appeal. (11 tracks; 61:18 minutes)


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NICK BEWSEY Ratings: ★=skip it; ★★=mediocre; ★★★=good; ★★★★=excellent; ★★★★★=classic

Julian Shore ★★★1/2 Filaments Tone Rogue The sophomore album from the 24-year-old pianist, Julian Shore, is a delight for a couple of reasons. It’s an album of modern jazz songs that anybody can listen and relate to, the result of the collaboration between singer and lyricist Alexa Barchini and Shore, who wrote all the music and gives the tunes shape and purpose. A fluid player with a sure touch and modernist appeal, Shore has played with singer Gretchen Parlato, guitarists Gilad Hekselman, drummer Kendrick Scott and saxophonist Noah Preminger—in other words, all the bright and notable players on the NY jazz scene. The other reason Filaments stands out is the contribution from guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel who plays on three outstanding tracks, giving heft to Shore’s compositions by adding an ethereal luster and sonic texture. Apart from the trio-based “I Will If You Will” and the trio plus Preminger ballad, the lush and very beautiful “Venus,” “Give” is likely the album’s strongest tune, made great by its solid melodic theme, nicely arranged horns, a deft backbeat by Tommy Crane and Rosenwinkel’s boss solo. Barchini and Shelly Tzarafi, two singers who share a harmonious capacity for emotional directness, provide the vocal duties. Words are whispered and sometimes cooed, and out of that breathy mix comes Shore’s precise, naturalistic phrasing. His solos are clean and graceful and he gives his band (bassist Phil Donin also stands out) generous room that encourages sparkling interplay. A good effort all around—Shore is definitely one to watch. (10 tracks; 55:42 minutes)

room enthusiasm. Curiously, Ms Krall didn’t mention that these tunes would be the focus of Glad Rag Doll (Verve). On Doll, Krall presses the pause button, putting her jazz combo, strings, lush standards and Johnny Mandel arrangements on hold, in the same way that her 2004 release The Girl In The Other Room bluntly departed from the Great American Songbook. Krall calls the new album her “song and dance record,” a surprising effort that introduces us to the stripped down pleasures of analog style tunes by Doc Pomus and other rough-hewn gems from lesser-known songwriters. Produced by T-Bone Burnett (Oh Brother, Where Art Thou), Doll brings guitarists Marc Ribot, Burnett and Howard Coward together with bassist Dennis

Harold Mabern ★★★★ Mr. Lucky HighNote Records Good news! Harold Mabern, the unsung jazz pianist who’s under recorded and whose discography is frustratingly either too hard to find or out of print, is back on the scene. A hard bop and swinging accompanist since the 1960s whose two-fisted attack is exhilarating (just look at his pair of mitts on the cover art), Mabern can be heard on Blue Note dates with Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley to more than eight contemporary jazz records with tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. Mabern is a modest man and is the first to admit he loves the sideman role (“I just always wanted to be the best sideman I could be.”) So it’s eventful when he returns with a solo recording and here we have the wonderful Mr. Lucky, an album of tunes associated with Sammy Davis, Jr. Mabern had been carrying around the idea of a Davis themed album for more than 20 years and the renditions of tunes like “Soft Shoe Training,” I’ve Gotta Be Me” and “What Kind Of Fool Am I” take on a life of their own, shaped by the Mabern & Alexander team in winning fashion. The youthful Alexander plays like a melodic freight train, charging ahead with endless creative phrasing while Mabern’s solos flow with circular rhythmic energy and positivity. The stalwart bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth round out the rhythm team with a precise and soulful feel for the material. Harold Mabern is a pianist with tremendous appeal and an instantly recognizable sound that shines brightly on the illustrious “Mr. Lucky.” Warmly recommended. (9 tracks; 54:20 minutes) Diana Krall ★★★★ Glad Rag Doll Verve Diana Krall’s crossover appeal is undeniable. She was in fine form for her June stop in Lancaster, PA on her Summer Nights 2012 concert tour, charming the crowd with stories of her childhood in Vancouver while interspersing her typically deft renditions of standards, show tunes and Brazilian songs from her best-selling albums. Krall projects an elegance and sophistication on stage, her persona wrapped in a wry, knowing sensuality, but she’s quick to remind her audience that she’s just a small town girl who made it, sharing self-deprecating stories about being a mom to twin boys and her life with husband Elvis Costello. Most touching though were her interludes about the old tunes that she and her father would listen to on LPs during her visits home, songs of the ‘20s and ‘30s by Bix Beiderbecke and others that are not quite standards but nonetheless populist music played with cheer and bar-

Crouch, guitarists Bryan Sutton and Colin Linden, drummer Jay Bellerose and keyboardist Keefus Green. With charismatic aplomb and a mean stride piano technique, Krall takes to these tavern style songs with an easy conviction. Guitarist Ribot is a notable soloist and known among the avant-garde jazz scene, and his role here is to add both authenticity and a veneer of electric guitar grunge (“There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears”) with fuzz tones dialed high into the mix. Krall enthralls on sweet-natured songs with expressive titles (“Just Like A Butterfly That’s Caught In The Rain,”) wistful interludes (“Wide River To Cross,”) optimistic ditties (“You Know—Everything’s Made For Love”) and the very pretty title tune, spare in its instrumentation yet emotionally ripe. With her superstar status and record sales to match, Krall trades her chanteuse image for a new one that takes its cue from the album’s cover photograph, one that’s sure to raise eyebrows. Yet, there’s plenty to enjoy and appreciate here. You’ll have to put away the chardonnay or pinot this time out—Glad Rag Doll remakes Diana Krall as a bourbon and blues singer and a fine one at that. (13 tracks; 58:08 minutes) ■ OCTOBER 2012

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jazz library Ernestine

Anderson

Ernestine Anderson. Photo: Patrick Stewart.

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BOB PERKINS

I RECENTLY READ A biographical sketch on singer Ernestine Anderson, that stated she has been singing for about five decades. Actually, the lady began her career in 1943, so I did the math, and it turns out that Ms. Anderson is fast approaching six decades as an entertainer—and a darn good one, if not great one! But, after singing for almost a lifetime she is still a secret to folks who hear her and wonder who she is. And when someone hips them to who she is, and how long she’s been that good, the uninitiated then want to know where she’s been, and why they’ve not heard her in all those years. Well, that’s a very loaded question, given the ins-and-outs, ups-anddowns and politics of show business—especially when the question has to do with a good number of artists with great talent who perform the blues, jazz, even great standard-pop music, all of which Anderson sings. I play her recordings on the air quite often, and when the calls come in asking the name of the singer, I join the crowd in wonder. One of a good number of reasons she’s not more widely known, is that she seems to sing without effort. In front of a microphone she appears to be doing something that comes to her very naturally—no histrionics or putting on an act. Anderson’s early introduction to singing came by way of listening to the records of Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and a few other blues greats. Her parents played such music in their home in Houston, Texas. Her father sang in a gospel group, and her grandparents sang in a Baptist church choir. So she got her chops from her early environment. The voice and presence was further refined when the family moved to Seattle, Washington, and Anderson, who had just finished high school, convinced her parents to let her go on the road with the Johnny Otis band. One year later she was with Lionel Hampton’s band. Armed with some professional experience, she headed for New York, determined to do big things. Not much happened in New York, but a threemonth tour of Scandinavia went well, as did her first album, Hot Cargo. In 1959, she won the Down Beat New Star Award, and toward the mid-1960s, she divided her time between the U.S. and Europe. During that time, because of the rock and roll craze, many American jazz artists found work difficult to get, and recording contracts also hard to come by and Anderson was no exception. “I don’t think jazz died. It suffered a set-back,” she said. “I had to move to London in order to work because a jazz person couldn’t find work in the United States when rock ‘n roll became the music.” The legendary bassist Ray Brown rediscovered Anderson while on tour abroad. He coaxed her back home and became her manager. Great things soon began to happen, one of them a Concord recording contract. She trusted Brown and he delivered for her. She submitted this testimonial about Brown’s intervention when she recorded one of her best albums, Never Make Your Move Too Soon: “I came into this recording session with a list of arrangements I wanted to do, and Ray took one look at it and started crossing things out, moving things around, changing everything. I knew it was going to happen, and it came out right. It’s beautiful what he does.” Nine more albums for Concord following this 1981 release didn’t hurt the artist or the label, but Never Make Your Move Too Soon is a doozy! And, by the way, this is the lady that Time magazine praised in a 1958 issue as being “The best kept secret in the land.” Anderson married three times during her career, and is the mother of three. I’ve not heard of any new recording by her in the last couple of years. There’s been word that she has not enjoyed good health in recent times. But, after all, the lady is an octogenarian, and Father Time will have his way with all of us. But it is good at least to know Ms. Ernestine, if not singing, and perhaps not well, is still kicking. We hope that she finds comfort in the outstanding body of work she produced in better days. n Bob Perkins is a writer and host of an all-jazz radio program that airs on WRTI-FM 90.1 Mon.–Thurs. night from 6 to 9pm and Sunday, 11–3pm.


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FINDINGS By Rafil Kroll-Zaidi

A compendium of research facts

POOR AMERICANS DIE FIVE years younger than the rich and are likelier to say that parents should stay together for the sake of the children. Black Americans, unlike white Americans, do not live longer if they marry rather than cohabit. Black women are, unlike white women and black men, expected to be assertive in the workplace; are as likely as white men to be ticketed during traffic stops; and tend toward obesity if they have been abused as children. Sons who have been abused by their fathers and daughters who have been abused by their mothers are especially prone to cancer. Fatherhood reduces gay men’s HIV risk. Children exposed to HIV in the womb are more likely to become deaf. Mother goats remember, for over a year after weaning, the voices of their kids. The death of a child increases a mother’s immediate risk of death by 133 percent. Women who have difficulty conceiving children are more likely to experience psychiatric hospitalization. California scientists disagreed with Danish scientists’ assertion that occasional binge drinking during pregnancy may be safe. Bullies peak in seventh grade. Cities polluted by leaded gasoline turn children violent. Two thirds of U.S. teenagers experience uncontrollable rage. Head injuries, undereducation, and farming make Americans punch and kick in their sleep. Ambient bullying makes employees want to quit. A landscape architect designed an edible playground for autistic children. FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE broke out among Uganda’s cows, and hand-footand-mouth disease infected 35,000 Hunanese. Potomac horse fever sickened an Indiana horse. Virginia scientists found that meat allergies may be caused by Lone Star ticks. African swine fever broke out near Moscow. Japanese encephalitis and Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever killed, respectively, twenty-two and two Indians. Panama disease ravaged Philippine bananas, a pox ravaged Japanese plums and one Arizona hummingbird, fire blight ravaged pome-fruit trees in the Swiss canton of Thurgau, German wind turbines were killing Polish bats, Spanish stealth slugs invaded Britain, and California’s black widows were being displaced by brown widows. A striped dolphin was found dead in Cornwall with a broken beak. Seventy-three sea turtles died mysteriously in Australia’s Upstart Bay, as did 512 Magellanic penguins in southern Brazil and twenty-eight gray seals on the border of Zeeland. Israel’s government worried lest its citizens become rabid. Seventy-six monks in Thailand were hospitalized after an attack by temple bees. An outbreak of swimmer’s itch shut down Nebraska’s Mormon Island Recreation Area. IT REMAINED UNCLEAR WHETHER slow sharks swallow sleeping seals. The male mourning cuttlefish, if faced on one side with a male rival, will transform the stripes on that half of its body to imitate feminine mottling. Female wandering albatrosses stray from their mates to avoid inbreeding, estrogen-mimicking pollutants were found to make fish court fish of other species, and female buckelli grigs in the Rocky Mountains were eating the wings of monstrosa species while mating with them. In Scotland, marine biologists tagged the basking sharks of Coll, Hyskeir, and Tiree, two 3,000-year-old bog mummies were found to be composed of six people, and most adults said it was acceptable for a man to marry his widow’s sister. Solomon Islanders were laundering blue birds of paradise, chattering lories, and yellow-crested cockatoos. In Germany, an ostrich named Joschka died after he crashed into a nandu named Henry. The Milky Way was still ringing from a collision 100 million years ago, and physicists appeared to have discovered the Higgs boson. “It’s very nice,” said Peter Higgs, “to be right sometimes.”

day trip

DAN HUGOS

October Shows Light Up The Opera House FORMER SEATTLE SYMPHONY CONDUCTOR and pianist Dr. George Fiore presents a free Chopin program to kick off Jim Thorpe’s Fall Foliage Festival on Friday night, October 5. Playing Chopin’s famous Ballads and Svalses on the Opera House’s 1898 Chickering Grand, an instrument simliar to the one Chopin would have played, he brings to the performance the decades of experience and musicianship that has influenced many classical players throughout the Pacific Northwest. One of the finest bands in Scotland (winner of the 2011 Best Scottish Folk Band by the Scottish Traditional Music Awards), The Battlefield Band brings its stirring sounds to the stage on Saturday, October 6. Performing since the early seventies, this might be their best line-up yet. Decide for yourself as they fill the room with their powerful fiddles, bagpipes, guitars and a host of traditional Scottish instruments and songs – it’s an unforgettable night. Donna the Buffalo usually plays much larger venues but they’re here on Friday, October 12 with their feel-good, groove-oriented, danceable and often socially conscious sound. With influences ranging from reggae to world to The Grateful Dead, Donna the Buffalo is a band that brings a live extravaganza to the stage. Their lively show thoroughly pleases their dedicated fans, collectively known as The Herd. The next night on Saturday, October 13 one of the finest bands you may not have heard of, Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband, visit from Utah. Past winners of the Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition, RSMB does it all—not only musically do Donna the Buffalo visits October 12. Photo: Jim Gavenus they cover much ground with bluegrass, reggae and world, but they bring unmatched entertainment value—you won’t know what hit you! Two of the finest voices and songwriters Jonathan Edwards and Michael Murphey join forces for a rare co-bill on Friday, October 19. Edwards is best-known for his hit Sunshine, while close friend Murphey penned several hits including Wildfire and Carolina In The Pines. Their 2-week tour marks the first time the two legendary singer-songwriters have ever performed together, and the Opera House is one of only two Pennsylvania stops. That acoustic and vocal theme carries on the rest of the weekend with AJ Swearingen’s and Jonathan Beedle’s Simon & Garfunkel Retrospective, an experience of close-youreyes-and-you-think-it’s-S&G. Mr. Swearingen continues the next night with original acoustic music courtesy of his fine duo with Jayne Kelli. Here the focus is on Swearingen’s accessible but beautiful original songs. It’s their first performance here in Jim Thorpe. The month’s final weekend brings the ever-popular Pennsylvania rock band The Badlees to town on Friday, October 26 with special guest fiddler Nyk Van Wyke. Rockers in the Americana vein of Bob Seger (with whom they’ve toured) or John Mellencamp, the band always brings a theme for their performance to the Opera House. We think the focus is going to be on their hits, like Angeline, and Up There Down Here. Van Wyke stays onstage for the talented Craig Thatcher Band’s Eric Clapton Retrospective on Saturday, October 27, one of the Opera House’s most popular productions and featuring an unforgettable survey of all the eras in Clapton’s musical career. For information and to select your seats, visit www.MauchChunkOperaHouse.com. You can also obtain tickets by visiting SoundCheck Records in downtown JT or calling them at 570-325-4009. Opera House box office: 570-325-0249. ■ OCTOBER 2012

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The Los Angeles Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle HIGH JINKS By Amy Johnson Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis ACROSS 1 Saucers in the air 5 Jewelry holder 10 You won’t see them in N.L. ballparks 13 Shanghai 19 Raise Cain 20 Miniseries opener 21 Turn state’s evidence 22 Book with Dick and Jane, say 23 Dear John? 26 Alice Walker title color 27 Playing marble 28 Response to “Was it that bad?” 29 What liars lack 30 So-called 32 Mordor monster 33 Colorado-based sports org. 34 Extortion amount, perhaps? 39 Greenish blue hue 43 James and Natalie’s “Rebel Without a Cause” co-star 46 Yemeni seaport 47 Rest stop sights 48 Star of the 1981 revue “The Lady and Her Music” 49 “Ice cream castles in the air,” in a Mitchell song 52 H.S. math course 54 Fabled flier 55 Frito-Lay chip 56 Manufactured goods 57 Sullen look 59 Graduate’s award 61 Opulent 62 Stocking shades 64 Of the flock 65 Steinbeck title starter 66 Raise some prices in the 19th-century literature section? 70 Where Brigham Young settled 74 Bio lab gel 76 Glad alternative 77 Screen partner 78 Not even slightly different 83 New Eng. state 84 Boosters, often 85 Once in a blue moon 86 Landscaper’s purchase 88 Mine in Rome 89 Took a short trip 90 “American Psycho” author 91 Aweigh 93 NASDAQ competitor 95 “__ Grew Older”: Hughes poem 96 Vivacity 54

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118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125

Revolting Oscar also-rans? H.S. dropouts may earn them Cat lead-in School Beatles hit with a four-minute coda Measure that’s often square Household cleanser Fútbol shout View from the Transamerica Tower? Dairy worker Quad bike, for one Pigeon shelters Two-time All-Star Martinez Fishermen with pots Raised golf course feature Strengthen’s opposite Film crew locales

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 24 25 29 31 35 36 37 38 40 41 42 43 44 45 48 50 51 53

DOWN __ sprawl Wells’s partner Late show hr. At a standstill Inflation no. Dealt with Cogito __ sum __ gun Best of the best “Happily Divorced” star Aggressive type Part of USA: Abbr. Place beside German philosopher Bauer Hired prankster on the set? Out callers Gael or Breton Small diamond Popular bar game Busters Half of XOXO Sailor’s “Stop!” Grim guy? Open, in a way “Famous” cookie creator Drummer Buddy Christine’s phantom admirer Prefix with knock “Exodus” author Uris Check (out) “Be-Bop-__”: Gene Vincent hit Meditative position Navajo neighbor One-liner from the pulpit? Cry with a head slap Spiritual leaders

111 114 115 116

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55 58 60 63 66 67 68 69 71 72 73 75 77 78 79 80 81 82 84 87 91 92 94 97 98 99 100 102 105

List maker Rapper __ Shakur Yale Bowl rooter Longtime senator Thurmond Seriously impair Crescent component Diminishing Rattles one’s cage Florida city on the Gulf Coast Mother Teresa’s birth name “Project Runway” host Klum Souped-up Pontiacs __-mo Following words HP competitor Big name in scat Celestial sci. Petty of “A League of Their Own” Winning Break up, as a union Notre Dame recess Red choice Guided 118-Across targets It may be given before leaving Massages Youngsters in uniforms Swiss mathematician Masters champ between Gary and Jack

106 Tease 107 Olympic Stadium team through 2004 108 Five-sided plate 109 Author Wiesel 110 Hardly one’s library voice 111 It can be cruel 112 Valentine’s Day deity

113 Good kind of guy to have around 116 Belfry denizen 117 Oakland-to-Vegas dir.

Answer in next month’s issue.

Answer to September’s puzzle, GOING DAFFY


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INDEX Facts compiled by the editors of Harper’s Magazine

Chance that an op-ed in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or Washington Post is written by a woman: 1 in 5 Percentage of quotations about birth control in election coverage by major U.S. newspapers attributed to men: 75 Of quotations about abortion: 81 Amount at which the average college-educated man’s annual salary maxes out, at age forty-eight: $95,000 At which the average college-educated woman’s does, at age thirty-nine: $60,000 Damages awarded in June to an Oregon woman who contracted herpes from a man she met through online dating: $900,000 Estimated number of indecency complaints currently in the Federal Communication Commission’s backlog: 1,500,000 Chances a Republican believes today that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction at the time of the 2003 invasion: 2 in 3 Amount paid at auction in June for one of Annie Oakley’s guns: $143,400 Percentage increase last year in the number of people killed by police officers in Los Angeles County: 69 Estimated portion of the U.S. prison population that is held in solitary confinement: 1/27 Estimated portion of prison suicides that are committed by inmates in solitary: 1/2 Chances that a “stand your ground” defense in Florida is successful when a black person is killed: 3 in 4 When a white person is killed: 2 in 3 Percentage change since 1970 in the share of metropolitan American families residing in affluent neighborhoods: +121 Residing in poor neighborhoods: +108 In middle-income neighborhoods: –34 Percentage of its GDP the United States has spent on transportation infrastructure since 1970: 1.6 Rank of that percentage among the lowest of any developed nation: 1 Amount for which the New York MTA leased naming rights to an Atlantic Avenue subway station: $4,000,000 Estimated portion of U.S. energy consumption that is attributable to the building sector: 1/2 Percentage of American farms that are family run: 97.7 Number of people who applied in May for 877 job openings at a Hyundai plant in Alabama: 26,942 Percentage of U.S. households that are headed by millionaires: 4.3 Of Swiss households: 9.5 Of Singaporean households: 17.1 Rank of Finland among European countries in which children spend the fewest hours in class: 1 Rank of its students among the best performing in Europe: 1 Factor by which the Polish population of Loecknitz, Germany, has increased since Poland joined the E.U. in 2004: 33 Percentage of American workers who are immigrants: 16 Percentage of American small business owners who are: 18 Amount ING paid to settle federal charges it moved funds through the U.S. for Cuban and Iranian customers: $619,000,000 Estimated portion of Colombian cocaine revenue that is laundered through banks in First World countries: 9/10 Ratio of the number of genes in microorganisms inhabiting the human nostril to the number in the human genome: 168:1 Average number of eggs a bedbug will lay after feeding on “clean” human blood: 44 After feeding on blood with an alcohol content of 0.10: 12 Number of human brains compromised after a freezer failure at the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center: 147 Minimum gigabytes of data stored in a typical gram of human feces: 10,000,000 Number of plastic spoons Northern Ireland stockpiled as part of a recently declassified plan to prepare for nuclear war: 58,292

Index Sources 1 Taryn Yager, The Op-Ed Project (N.Y.C.); 2,3 4th Estate (Montpelier, Vt.); 4,5 PayScale (Seattle); 6 Randall Vogt (Portland, Ore.); 7 Federal Communications Commission (Washington); 8 Benjamin Valentino, Dartmouth College (Hanover, N.H.); 9 Heritage Auctions (Dallas); 10 Los Angeles Times; 11 American Civil Liberties Union (Washington); 12 Craig Haney, University of California, Santa Cruz; 13,14 Tampa Bay Times (Tampa Bay, Fla.); 15–17 Sean F. Reardon and Kendra Bischoff, Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.); 18,19 Council on Foreign Relations (Washington); 20 Metropolitan Transit Authority (N.Y.C.); 21 Architecture 2030 (Santa Fe, N.M.); 22 U.S. Department of Agriculture; 23 Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (Montgomery); 24–26 Boston Consulting Group (N.Y.C.); 27,28 Eurydice (Brussels)/OECD (Paris); 29 Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany (Washington); 30,31 Fiscal Policy Institute (N.Y.C.); 32 Manhattan District Attorney’s Office (N.Y.C.); 33 Alejandro Gaviria Uribe, Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá); 34 Owen White, Institute for Genome Sciences (Baltimore)/Curtis Huttenhower, Harvard School of Public Health (Boston); 35,36 Ralph Narain, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; 37 McLean Hospital (Belmont, Mass.); 38 Larry Smarr (La Jolla, Calif.); 39 Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (Belfast). OCTOBER 2012

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14 / ART / STREETS OF RAINBOWS

“Do you want to walk?” he asked. Then, indicating the blocks ahead of us with their freshly painted geometric designs stretching past Lehigh Avenue and then off into the distance to a place where a poet might say merged with something Utopian, to a new and better world.

Artists and visionaries, Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhass No sooner did I say yes than I felt as if I was walking with the mayor of a small town. A chain of random “hellos” punctuated the air as store owners and passers-by smiled or shook Urhahn’s hand. On the street were grinding sounds from two sidelined PECO trucks. Apparently the project had called for the turning off of the street’s electricity, a brief outage that caused one store owner some concern, since she approached Urhahn and asked when the power would be turned back on “Let me see about that,” he said, immediately jumping into a street hole to consult with two PECO workers. “Very soon,” he said to the owner, “within the hour.” Recalling that moment in the office, Urhahn says, “Yes, we tried to have a conversation [then] but a million things happened at the same time. That morning was more of a display of what a real day is like rather than a real conversation. But it was fun.” But fun would not be the word he’d use to describe his reaction to a recent City Paper article on Philly Painting. That article, he said, seemed to make the execution of the project in Philadelphia sound like a horror story. Even so, Philly Painting seems to have gotten more positive publicity than a filmed-in-Philly Colin Farrell movie. “Every day brings an interesting problem in the street,” he tells me. “Today, the accident was a city truck ramming a car’s door off right in front of us and almost hitting a lady.” Urhahn’s project partner, Koolhass, joins us at one of the

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portable picnic tables in the office space. Like Urhahn, he’s from Rotterdam, but he’s showing no noticeable tattoos. He’s also dressed for the weather (or emergency painting) in shorts and flip flops. In most circles the two artists are known as Hass&Hahn, a reference that has a corporate ring like Johnson & Johnson, even if these guys are anything but corporate. As partners, they split duties—Koolhass handles design issues and Urhahn focuses on organizational and administrative tasks. Once in a while, MAP Executive Director Jane Golden will swing by and the three will go out to lunch and discuss the project’s progress. Both men are paid salaries by Mural Arts, but money was never their main goal (they painted the 75,000 square feet of houses in Rio for free). Money came into the picture after a New York Times article on the Favela project in Rio attracted the attention of Gary Steuer, Chief Cultural Officer of the City of Philadelphia. Steuer, acting as a talent scout, helped orchestrate the move to incorporate the pair as part of the Philadelphia Commerce Department’s plan to rebuild Germantown Avenue. “This started as a hobby idea and it grew into a profession. This Mural Arts project is the first real assignment that we were hired for,” Urhahn says. “We were hired by a third party [Gary Steuer]. The work in Brazil was self-motivated and not orchestrated by an organization.” Urhahn says the work that he and Koolhass did in Brazil was “altruistic,” and that they had no idea that anything would come of it. “One of the biggest problems in that altruistic world,” he says, “is that it is really hard to get paid.” “At the start we had an idea as to how fast it would go, but it is so incredibly difficult to size it up,” he continues. “We had no idea whether we’d do one building a day, or three buildings. We had to get busy first and see how the buildings were going and then readjust our plans step by step. “You know, there are projects that need an incredible amount of flexibility on everybody’s part,” Urhahn adds, “and this is one of them.” Meaning, as he’d later divulge, that when they started the Germantown Avenue project they had no idea which buildings they would get approval for. And even at this relatively late date, a year into the project, they are still waiting for building approvals, especially since some of buildings are owned by investment companies. Because most of the owners do not live in the buildings, there can be delays when it comes to getting permission to paint, yet even once permission is gotten, there can be complicated questions regarding color choices. Urhahn shrugs philosophically, “It’s like a house of cards—you have to build it carefully to get there.” “There” in this case could extend far beyond Lehigh Avenue and the streets of Silver, Somerset and Cambria, since there’s talk of the project being extended far into alien streetscapes, of going into the neighborhoods behind the commercial districts so that ordinary homes, just like the hill houses in Rio, would benefit. There’s also talk that Philly Painting might expand into other city neighborhoods, and why not? Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, so why can’t there be a Philly Painting in Fishtown or Port Richmond as well as in North Philadelphia? Jane Golden, in fact, believes this is entirely possible, and in an email told me that, “We are in conversations with Haas and Hahn relating to future projects, and would love for this relationship to continue.” Overall, Golden says that she is more than satisfied with what has transpired along the Avenue. “Philly Painting has been an incredible opportunity for the Mural Arts Program to hone our social practice. This has been a time of opportunity and learning and we are so appreciative of the support we have received from the Knight Foundation and the City’s Commerce Department to make it happen. This has become a model we have every intention of using in our work in behavioral health, criminal

justice, and our community development work.” For Koolhass, who also works as an illustrator for The New Yorker, proposing color designs to building owners would seem to fall into the community development work category. “I do this so building owners can react to it. They might not like the colors,” he says, “so in that case we might take them outside and say. ‘Do you like any of the other colors?’ I have a whole panel of swatches I can show them.” Later, I get to see the swatches Koolhass is talking about when he takes me to his house, a small two-story structure right across the street from Urhahn’s house in what has become an impromptu Philly Painting Village, a street filled with colorful mosaics and a Stonehenge style sculpture park reminiscent of a Druid cemetery. The little street has a Grimm’s Fairy Tales feel. It’s where the artists lived as roommates until Urhahn brought over his wife and cats from Rotterdam. (Koolhass himself has a five-month-old daughter in Rotterdam.) Koolhass drove me to the street from the Avenue in a recently purchased vintage Mercedes Benz, a car the size of a WWII PT boat. After pointing out a large leather sofa that he bought secondhand, he shows me the color panels the store owners get to choose from. They’re all organic Philadelphia colors arranged in geometric patterns and look strangely like the fields of southern France as seen from 30,000 feet up. Putting myself in a store owner’s place, it’s easy to imagine having a hard time making a decision. “I do a lot of convincing,” Koolhass says, referring to the sensitive task of listening to people tell him what they want in terms of color. One building on the street, for instance— it’s called the ONE + SEVEN variety store—stands out as a beautiful example of a pastel color blend, even though pastels are not popular among most in the neighborhood. Since one person’s favorite color is another person’s nightmare, the challenge is getting everyone comfortable with the general scheme while respecting individual differences. “You know,” Koolhass adds, “it would be much easier just to have one design and make everybody go along with it, but ultimately the concept of the design is to weave all of these demands into a tapestry of colors.” “What’s important to us,” he says, referring to Urhahn, “is…if you’re living in the world and doing the kind of things—I am a graphic designer and Dre comes from the world of TV production—if you’re doing this kind of work you have a choice to work for companies and making them more money by working for them, or making up something else and creating your own job. I think we like working together because we like inventing our own jobs, and not being at the service of more powerful companies that are already in the business of making more money. “Once you start working for a sponsor,” he warns, “you have to adjust your agenda to theirs. This makes it very hard to do the work you set out to do.” That doesn’t seem to be the case with Philly Painting; they are doing the work they set out to do. Urhahn has begun to see his time in the neighborhood as a fascinating sociological experience. “A book could be written about the store owners here. We know how many children they have, where they live, what colors their kids like, everything. Some of the owners are design-driven, but some are not, they don’t care,” he says. Both artists, who have done a lot of flying back and forth to Rotterdam and to Rio to attend to old business, are seriously considering making Philadelphia their home. “Look,” Koolhass tells me, “I don’t even have a house in Rotterdam. The first time I came to Philly it was to look at the sites. I lived in New York City then.” “We do hear from people who drive down here and say that things are so incredibly different now. And there have


been people who have to park their car and get out and look at what is going on because it was a change from before,” Urhahn says, adding that it’s fascinating to see residents engaged in serious conversations about color, something they would have never chosen to discuss two years ago. “The desired effect is not to create an extreme contrast with the rest of the neighborhood, but you want to have something that fits in with the look or feel that is already there.” But if the practical end of painting storefronts means smoothing over a lot of infrastructure glitches like recessed walls, collapsed chimneys, or broken doorframes—a lot of what you see here is reminiscent of a construction site with scaffolding and construction crane lifts holding aloft painters with brushes—then credit for the painstaking work of painting belongs

to young people from the area, like the two-month contract DHS worker kids who left some time ago. These young painters, who have had no experience in the arts, paint solid colors in the empty blocks as sketched out by West Philadelphia muralist, Felix “Flex” St. Fort but designed in-house by Koolhass. “In fact, we were able to ID two people who were working so hard and showed so much potential, we were able to get them longer contracts,” Urhahn said. As for fears that the paint will fade or chip, Urhahn assures me that Mural Arts has legally bound itself for a certain amount of upkeep for a certain amount of years. “But the quality of the paints we’re using is quite extreme. We invested a large portion of the budget in using extremely good paint.” In other words, expect the finished project to last a good part into the heart of forever. ■

One+Seven Variety Store in progress.

Peace Wall, by Jane Golden. 29th & Wharton, Gray's Ferry Neighborhood. Completed 1997. Photo credit: Jack Ramsdale for Mural Arts Program (c) City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

One+Seven store. Philly Painting 2500-2800 Germantown Ave. ©2012 Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn

Holding Grandmother's Quilt - East Wall, by Donald Gensler. Completed 2004. 3912 Aspen Street, Mantua Photo credit: Jack Ramsdale for Mural Arts Program (c) City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

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calendar CALL TO ARTISTS GoggleWorks Center for the Arts 2013 Juried Exhibition. Home: Interpreting the Familiar Grand Prize: solo show in the Cohen Gallery. GoggleWorks is the country’s largest, most comprehensive interactive arts center. Cash prizes for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place. Open to all media. Up to 3 works allowed, $35. Juror: Genevieve Coutroubis, award winning photographer and director, The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Philadelphia. Deadline: Dec. 21, 2012. Exhibition: May 11 – June 23, 2013. Prospectus: www.goggleworks.org/Exhibitions/Call-for-Artists/. 201 Washington St., Reading, PA, 19601, 610-374-4600 ART EXHIBITS THRU 10/7 Dot Bunn; Solo. Featuring all new work. Opening reception Sat., 9/8, 5-8pm. Patricia Hutton Galleries. 47 West State St., Doylestown, PA. 215-348-1728. PatriciaHuttonGalleries.com THRU 10/14 I Look, I Listen: Works on Paper by Marlene Miller. Michener Art Museum, 138 S. Pine St., Doylestown, PA 215-340-9800. michenerartmuseum.org THRU 10/18 California Impressionism: Masters of Light. Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania, 220 S. 34th St., Phila., PA. upenn.edu/ARG THRU 10/28 Kim Keever. Lafayette College, Williams Center Gallery, Easton, PA. Photographs of landscapes assembled inside a water-filled tank. 610-330-5361. http://galleries.lafayette.edu. THRU 10/31 Corinne Lalin, Encaustics and Constructions. SFA Gallery, 10 Bridge St., Suite 7, Frenchtown, NJ. 908-268-1700. sfagallery.com THRU 10/31 Netherfield Fine Art features works by fine artist Jessie Krause. 11 East Bridge St., New Hope, PA. 215-862-4500. Netherfieldfineart.com THRU 11/4 Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, by Brian Lav. Red Filter Fine Art Photography Gallery, 74 Bridge St., Lambertville, NJ. Thur.-Sun. 12-5. 347-244-9758. redfiltergallery.com. THRU 10/19 Max Ginsburg, The Social Realist Master. Artist demonstration: Painting a Portrait from Life, 36pm. No charge, RSVP by 9/10. Opening reception 6-8pm. The Baum School of Art, 510 Linden St., Allentown, PA. 610-433-0032. baumschool.org THRU 10/7 Forsaken Waters. Photographs by Derek Jecxz. Reception 9/14, 6-9. Twenty-Two Gallery, 236 So. 22nd St., Phila. PA 215-772-1911. twenty-twogallery.com 10/5-11/25 Dan Christmas: Orbs. Opening Reception, Oct. 6, 3pm. The Quiet Life Gallery, 17 So. Main St., Lambertville, NJ. 609-397-0880. quietlifegallery.com

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10/5-10/14 Art at Kings Oaks. Nine artists showing at 756 Worthington Mill Rd., Newtown, PA. Alex Cohen, Derek Bernstein, Matthew Merwin, Alvaro Altamar, Celia Reisman, Christopher Tietjen, David Fertig, Tom Walton and David Graham. Sat-Sun, Oct 6-7 and Sat-Sun Oct 1314, 10am-6pm. Artists' receptions Friday, Oct. 5, 6-9pm and Sunday, Oct. 14, 2-6pm. 215-603-6573. kingsoaksart.com 10/5-10/28 Made in China: Amie Potsic. Reception 10/5, 6-9. Ven and Vaida, 18 So. 3rd Street, Phila. 215-592-4099. venandvaida.com 10/6 & 10/7 Familiar Places, Michael Budden & Cesar A. Jerez. Opening Reception, 10/6, 5-8pm, 10/7, 12-4pm. Travis Gallery, 6089 Lower York Rd. (Rt. 202), New Hope, PA, 18938. Wed.-Sat. 10-5. 215-794-3903. travisgallery.com 10/12-11/4 Passages. Reception 10/12, 6-9. Twenty-Two Gallery, 236 S. 23rd St., Phila. 215-772-1911. twenty-twogallery.com 10/13 Kardon Gallery, meet Si Lewen, reception, 24pm. 139 South Main Street, Doylestown, PA (a branch of the Si Lewen Museum, Bethlehem, PA.) Wed.-Sat. 10-6, Sun. 12-6, and by appt. 215-489-4287. kardongallery.com 10/13-11/4 Of the Earth and Sky, Michael Filipiak. Patricia Hutton Galleries, 47 West State St., Doylestown, PA. 215-348-1728. Patriciahuttongalleries.com 10/13 & 10/14 Sweet Edge Sculpture Tour. Six of New Hope area’s finest contemporary sculptors open their studios to the public. George Anthonisen, Constance Bassett, David Cann, Raymond Mathis, John McDevitt, Steven Snyder. 267-337-1818. sweetedgesculpture.com. 10/13-1/6 Generations: Louise Fishman, Gertrude FisherFishman and Razel Kapustin. Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Ave, Phila. 215-247-0476 woodmereartmuseum.org 10/20 -11/18 Robert Beck: Homecoming. Guest artist, Raymond Mathis. Reception 10/20, 5-8; 10/21, 1-4. 204 N. Union St., Lambertville, NJ 609-397-5679 robertbeck.net 10/20-1/13 Art is Vibrant: Centennial Juried Exhibition. Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 302-571-9590 delart.org 10/26-28 Treasures Jewelry Sale & Show. Preview 10/25, 6-9. UPenn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 3260 South St., Phila. 215-898-9201 wcpennmuseum.com 11/4-12/30 It’s About Time…Alexander Volkov and Mary Serfass, The Snow Goose Gallery. Meet the artists Sun., Nov. 4, 1-5pm. 470 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA. 610-974-9099. thesnowgoosegallery.com

OCTOBER 2012

11/23-25 Covered Bridge Artisans: 18th Annual Holiday Studio Tour. coveredbridgeartisans.com THEATER THRU 10/7 Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Starring David Hyde Pierce and Sigourney Weaver. McCarter Theater, 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ. 609-258-2787. mccarter.org. THRU 10/7 Arsenic and Old Lace. Act 1 Performing Arts, DeSales University, Labuda Center, Main Stage, 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley, PA. 610-282-3192. desales.edu/act1 Thru 12/29 Murder Mystery Dinner Theater- Dinner, Desert… and Death. New show, Peddler’s Village, Fri. & Sat. evenings, 7pm, $51.95 per person (includes dining, show, tax & service charge.) Peddler’s Pub, Cock n’ Bull in Peddler’s Village, Rte. 263 & Street Rd., Lahaska, PA. 215-794-4051. peddlersvillage.com 10/4-10/13 The Pan Show, presented by Touchstone Theatre. In Pan We Trust! 321 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem, PA. 610-867-1689. www.touchstone.org 10/11-10/21 I Love A Piano, The Music of Irving Berlin. Act 1 Performing Arts, DeSales University, Labuda Center, Main Stage, 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley, PA, 18034. 610-282-3192. desales.edu/act1 10/23 The Capitol Steps. Just in time for the 2012 Presidential Election! State Theatre, 7:30pm. 453 Northampton St., Easton, PA. $30/$25. 610-252-3132, 1-800-999-STATE. statetheatre.org 10/26-11/4 On The Town, Music by Leonard Bernstein. Muhlenberg College of Theatre & Dance, 2400 Chew St., Allentown, PA. 484-664-3693. muhlenberg.edu/theatre

MUSIC

10/19:

Some organizations perform in various locations. If no address is listed, check the website for location of performance. 10/1-10/31 The Noon-Ten Concerts, Tuesdays in Oct., 12:10 PM. Suggested donation $5. Arts at St. John’s, St. John’s Lutheran Church, 37 So. Fifth St., Allentown, PA, 18101. 610-435-1641. stjohnsallentown.org

10/20

10/12 Delhi 2 Dublin. Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, 420 E. Packer Ave., Bethlehem, PA. 610-758-2787. zoellnerartscenter.org

11/17: 11/30:

10/19 Concertante, Chamber Music Society of Bethlehem, 8pm. Foy Concert Hall, Moravian College, W. Church & Main St., Historic Bethlehem, PA. Tickets available at door or at lvartsboxoffice.org. cmsob.org

10/1-10/31 Frenchtown in October, special events, sales & discounts, street musicians, artists, kayak races, pumpkin decorating, pet photos, pie baking contests and much more! Visit frenchtownnj.org for full schedule.

10/20 GALA! Save the date. An evening with Katharine McPhee. Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University. 610-758-2787. gala2012@lehigh.edu

10/5-10/28 Awesome Autumn! Fun filled events throughout the month, including Harvest Festival, The Witches Ball, the Halloween 5k, and more. Downtown Bethlehem, PA. Visit downtownbethlehemassociation.com for schedule.

10/30 The Phantom of the Opera, 7:30 PM. Silent film with improvised organ accompaniment. Suggested donation $10. Arts at St. John’s, St. John’s Lutheran Church, 37 So. Fifth St., Allentown, PA, 18101. 610-435-1641. stjohnsallentown.org 11/18 Adaskin String Trio with Ensemble Schumann, 4pm. Chamber Music Society of Bethlehem, Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA. Tickets available at door or at lvartsboxoffice.org. cmsob.org ARTSQUEST CENTER AT STEELSTACKS (Musikfest Café) 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA 610-332-1300. artsquest.org

10/26-11/4 The Select (The Sun Also Rises). McCarter Theatre, 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ 609-258-2787 mccarter.org

10/3: 10/6: 10/10: 10/14: 10/18: 10/19:

DINNER & MUSIC

10/26:

Saturday nights: Sette Luna Restaurant, 219 Ferry St., Easton, PA. 610-253-8888. setteluna.com Thursday nights: John Beacher’s Community Stage, 8-12pm, Community Stage sign ups, 9pm: Solo act, 8-9pm. Karla’s, 5 W. Mechanic St., New Hope. 215-862-2612. karlasnewhope.com

10/31: 11/1: 11/2:

Leftover Salmon Garfunkel and Oates Jars of Clay Los Lonely Boys The Smithereens Bootsy Collins Of Parliament Funkadelic Salsa Night With Hector Rosado Y Su Orchestra Keb’ Mo’ Lee DeWyze An Evening With Little Feat

MAUCH CHUNK OPERA HOUSE One of America’s oldest vaudeville theaters, built in 1881. 14 West Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA 570-325-0249. mauchchunkoperahouse.com

DANCE 11/4 Zoellner Arts Center presents MOMIX Botanica, 7pm. A must see ground-breaking dance performance. Lehigh University, 420 E. Packer Ave., Bethlehem, PA. 610-758-2787. zoellnerartscenter.org.

10/5: 10/6: 10/12: 10/13: 10/14: 10/18:

Pianist Dr. George Fiore The Battlefield Band Donna The Buffalo Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband Manhattan Lyric Opera Rodgers to Romberg to Webber A Taste of Hollywood FREE MOVIE NIGHT – & Book signing with local artist Gene Duffy aka Jozef Rothstein

10/21 10/26 10/27 11/2: 11/3: 11/9: 11/10:

An Evening with Jonathan Edwards and Michael Martin Murphey Simon and Garfunkel Retrospective Swearingen & Kelli The Badlees Badge: Eric Clapton Retrospective Montana Skies Boolesque The Claire Lynch Band The ‘The Band’ Band – Last Waltz Celebration Start Making Sense A Coal Country Christmas Carol EVENTS

10/20 Arts Festival Reading, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts. Juried artists & craftsmen, hot glass demos, performing arts, music and food! GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, 201 Washington St., Reading, PA. 610-374-4600, x104. artsfestivalreading.org 10/22 Autumn Alive, 10am- 4pm, Downtown Quakertown, PA. Activities all day, including kid’s rides, street performers, cupcake wars, pet parade, scarecrow contest, petting zoo, live music performances, arts & crafts vendors, food and much more! Raindate 10/27, 10-4. 215-536-2273. quakertownalive.com 10/26 “Not-Just-Art Auction" to benefit Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra, 7:00 p.m., Brookside Country Club, 901 Willow Lane, Macungie, PA. An affordable and fun night featuring a live & silent auction. Original art, gift baskets, and more. $45 admission includes hors d'oeuvres. 610-434-7811. PASinfonia.org 10/27 Rice’s Market Annual Trick or Treat Event will be fun for all ages. DJ, face painter, tattoo artist, and moon bounce. Featuring new crafters & vendors; 7AM-1PM. Halloween costumes are encouraged. 6326 Greenhill Road New Hope, PA 215-297-5993. ricesmarket.com 11/7-11/10 People Places Perspectives. Geo Fest. (Global film and food events through May) Geographical Society of Philadelphia. 610-649-5220. geographicalsociety.org 11/10 Cocktails & Collecting, the premiere art event of the fall, 6pm, Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley. Fine artists, and art dealers from the Lehigh Valley and beyond, hors-d’oeuvres and cocktails, curators to consult on the art of collecting, captivating conversation and more! 31 North Fifth Street, Allentown, PA. 610-432-4333.


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OCTOBER 2012

ICON

59


ICON October 2012  

Cultural magazine circulated in the Greater Philadelphia area and suburbs