2 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V. C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
W W W. FA C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W. I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 3
The intersection of art, entertainment, culture, opinion and mad genius
Filling the hunger since 1992
is the consummate
Trina McKenna email@example.com
EWAN MCGREGOR | 26
The best CD box sets to give the music lover.
Starring in a film that casts him as Jesus and Satan, and getting behind the camera as director for the first time, the Scottish actor, recently feted at the Los Cabos Film Festival, has a big year ahead of him.
Buckminster’s | 45
5 | THE BEAT Valley Beat City Beat 48 | ABOUT LIFE
8 | Frank Stella at the Whitney 10 | Coney Island at the Brooklyn Museum 12 | ART SHORTS Bethlehem House Gallery Paradigm Gallery Arch Enemy Arts
THEATER 14 | CITY THEATER 14 | VALLEY THEATER
ENTERTAINMENT Director Todd Haynes
Boxed and Booked | 41 Point Breeze’s new restaurant, named for inventor and visionary, Buckminster Fuller.
MUSIC 38 | NICK’S PICKS Tom Harrell Erik Friedlander Matthew Halsall/Gondwana Orchestra Kenneth Salters Haven 40 | KERESMAN ON DISC Miles Davis Son Little Flying Saucer Attack Art Pepper Quartet Vega/Chilton/Vaughn 42 | SINGER / SONGWRITER Nikki Hill Donnie Fritts Webb Wilder Neil Young and Bluenote Café Sarah Pierce 43 | JAZZ LIBRARY Gloria Lynne
FOOD 46 | Charlie Was a Sinner 49 | Stockton Inn
16 | THE LIST
50 | L. A. TIMES CROSSWORD 51 | AGENDA
18 | KERESMAN ON FILM I Smile Back 20 | CINEMATTERS Spotlight 22 | BAD MOVIE San Andreas 30 | FILM ROUNDUP Anomalisa The Big Short Bone Tomahawk Creed 32 | REEL NEWS Pawn Sacrifice Goodnight Mommy Mistress America Time Out of Mind
David Bowie is proving once again that he
6 | EXHIBITIONS Red Tulip Gallery Patricia Hutton Galleries The Baum School of Art 7 | A THOUSAND WORDS
1-800-354-8776 • 215-862-9558
Starting with the controversial film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, continuing with Far from Heaven, Safe, and Mildred Pierce, Haynes has made films that revel in feminine strength.
Michael Keaton in Spotlight
The Prettiest Star | 39
TODD HAYNES | 24
COLUMNS Steeplechase Funny Face.
Frank Stella, Grajau I, 1975.
LEHIGH VALLEY/BUCKS ADVERTISING
Raina Filipiak firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVERTISING 800-354-8776 EDITORIAL Executive Editor / Trina McKenna PRODUCTION Designer / Richard DeCosta Assistant Designer / Kaitlyn Reed-Baker CITY BEAT Thom Nickels / email@example.com VALLEY BEAT Geoff Gehman / firstname.lastname@example.org FINE ARTS Edward Higgins Burton Wasserman MUSIC Nick Bewsey / email@example.com Mark Keresman / firstname.lastname@example.org Bob Perkins / email@example.com Tom Wilk / firstname.lastname@example.org FOOD Robert Gordon / email@example.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS A. D. Amorosi / firstname.lastname@example.org Robert Beck / email@example.com Jack Byer / firstname.lastname@example.org Peter Croatto / email@example.com James P. Delpino / JDelpino@aol.com Sally Friedman / firstname.lastname@example.org Geoff Gehman / email@example.com George Miller / firstname.lastname@example.org R. Kurt Osenlund / email@example.com Keith Uhlich / KeithUhlich@gmail.com
PO Box 120 • New Hope 18938 (800) 354-8776 Fax (215) 862-9845 ICON is published twelve times per year. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. ICON welcomes letters to the editor, editorial ideas and submissions, but assumes no responsibility for the return of unsolicited material. ICON is not responsible for claims made by advertisers. Subscriptions are available for $40 (shipping & handling). ON THE COVER: Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars’ The Force Awakens. Page 26
4 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V. C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
Copyright 2015 Prime Time Publishing Co., Inc.
the beat VALLEY BEAT
BY GEOFF GEHMAN
BY THOM NICKELS
Rick Smolan came to the InVision Photography Festival to mainly discuss Tracks, a new movie based on his fabled National Geographic assignment to track a young woman who spent nine months crossing the Australian desert with four camels, a dog and an aboriginal angel. He ended up devoting much of his Bethlehem lecture to his longer, deeper relationship with a younger, equally extraordinary foreign female. Smolan met Hyun Sook Lee when he was an admittedly immature 28-year-old and she was a remarkably mature 11-year-old. Startlingly beautiful and stunningly poised, the South Korean quickly became the star of his quest to document the ostracized children of Asian mothers and American soldiers. Passionate and polite, he became a favorite of her grandmother, her host and protector. Her dying wish was for Smolan to take her granddaughter to America, where she wouldn’t have to hide from peers who insulted her Anglo face and missing dad.. Smolan convinced his best friend to adopt the youngster, a happy compromise. Then he persuaded her even more over-protective uncle to let her live in a progressive orphanage, where she promptly organized work details and movie days. She renamed herself Natasha, after the sultry villainess in Rocky & Bullwinkle. Natasha and Smolan came to America after nearly dying in a hotel fire. She became a homecoming queen and an airline attendant. She found her birth mother and translated for Kodak at the Seoul Olympics. Today, her kids play with Smolan’s kids and he asks her for advice. “I feel that I didn’t grow up,” he said, “but she did.” Natasha inspired Smolan to launch the series of A Day in the Life books, where he coordinated scores of photographers to cover America, the Soviet Union and Christmas. She’s asked him to turn their story into a book so that her 11-year-old daughter can track her mother’s truly epic adventure.
Along with many others, we went to Henri David’s 47th annual Halloween Ball but lamented that his grand event is still being held at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel. This out-of-date monolithic 757-room hotel calls to mind a space that really wants to be a shopping mall. The warehouse-size 58,000-foot ballroom registers instant depression not even a Halloween costume can alleviate. The remote 17th and the Parkway address is also not the nicest of spots, especially for post-Ball Septa riders in the wee hours. Henri’s most user-friendly Ball was held at the Double Tree Hotel at Locust and Broad, where revelers had the advantage of being in the heart of the city. Will 2016 mean a location change for the city’s best Halloween party? Among this year’s guests was ex-Governor Ed Rendell. We spotted him walking around alone dressed as himself but looking a little disoriented. Was he mourning the loss of the public hullabaloo that used to accompany his public appearances? Or was he living proof that the design of the building affects one’s mood? One good thing, at least the venerable exgovernor can take public strolls without being followed by a chorus of flatterers.
Steve Tobin’s massive, mercurial monuments are not only interactive, they’re enteractive. The Bucks County resident invites visitors to absorb a cultural cyclorama inside a house of antique glass-lantern slides, to motorcycle around a spiraling steel sculpture inspired by Japanese calligraphy. Tobin presented himself as many selves during a 360-degree talk at the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley, which is displaying a forest of his slender, bulbous, blown-glass pods, also known as “cocoons.” There was the restless, relentless experimenter who moved from neon-lit cocoons in caves to a river of glass. The inventive recycler who built an igloo of windows from Korean War tanks. The sly naturalist who enjoys birds nesting in a 60-foot-long wall of bronzed bones. The visual philosopher who cast sections of a forest floor and a corn field to make people stare at patterns they usually ignore. The self-marketing guru who ignores dumb questions and exhibits only in smart spaces. After all, he pointed out, a fine wine should never be served at a football game. I feel a bit like a heel criticizing Postmodern Jukebox, the hyperkinetic crew who jazz up pop hits and pop up jazz standards. The YouTube phenomenon’s gig at the Zoellner Arts Center was a chronically entertaining circus. It was also about as novel as a designer lumberjack beard. PJ had all the retro-metro essentials: sassy singers in sassy outfits; a stride-playing, hat-wearing pianist; a trombonist who wailed striptease Dixieland; a drummer who engaged in a cutting contest with a tap dancer. Several tunes received significant upgrades. Haley Reinhart improved Britney Spears’ “I’m Not That Innocent” by singing like a bordello baby doll. Mykal Kilgore improved Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” with a sizzling stratospheric tenor that rattled the bones of Jackie Wilson and Little Anthony. There was plenty of window dressing and aural wallpaper, too. Reinhart’s rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep” had too much Broadway gloss and too little despair. Scott Bradlee’s piano medley of audience requests, including “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the “Addams Family” theme, tasted like microwaved casserole. A tambourine-banging cheerleader was an annoying mascot for a show without spontaneity or sweat. ■
Geoff Gehman is the author of the memoir The Kingdom of the Kid: Growing Up in the Long-Lost Hamptons (SUNY Press). firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ernest Hemingway once called Key West “the St. Tropez of the poor,” but after spending five days there last month we’re ready to label it the land of the beefy cop. Given that one can drink openly on Key West sidewalks you’d think that trouble would be brewing on every other corner. Police presence in KW, though, is minimal. Throughout our visit we never saw squad cars patrolling the streets and byways or even sneakily parked on a side street waiting for something to happen. We spotted only two squad cars at the scene of an auto accident; after that we encountered two officers diverting traffic due to road construction. The officers diverting traffic resembled movie extras—gelled hair, buff bodies and glittering dental veneers. We were tempted to ask if they were reformed Key West party boys who managed to land a real career. Press badge confusion reigned at the 24th annual Philadelphia Film Festival. Who would have thought? We were anxious to see Michael Moore at the premier of his new film, Where to Invade Next, when we noticed that the rich array of independent and foreign films being shown from October 22 to November 1 in theaters across the city would be closed to us. We’d been issued a weekend press badge, expiring on Oct. 25, so when we went to the festival the badge had already expired. Had a host of nearsighted or mentally tattooed PFS interns fallen asleep at the wheel? When we attended the premier of Rizzo by Bruce Graham at Theatre Exile, we expected to see a revisionist whitewash epic minus the malevolent atmosphere that hung over the city when Rizzo was mayor. The play wasn’t exactly a whitewash—it did present him as a hooligan bad boy—but it left out the more severe strains of menace. The audience was not a regular theater crowd, but more like a formal Election Day gathering at Famous Deli. Everyone greeted one another in that political way you sometimes see inside City Hall. This was evident in the considerable pandemonium around the seating arrangements as people switched seats, walked up and down the center aisle or reached over ten heads to wave to someone they knew in City Hall twenty years ago. The interminable wait for the play’s start was reminiscent of the Rizzo years when good citizens thought the tyranny would never end—the police raids, the police wagons roaming the streets picking up anyone who looked suspicious; the untoward behavior of cops, especially the undercover guys who ordered pedestrians into unmarked cars or who stood at urinals in the old Greyhound Bus station hoping to entrap a “pervert.” The City celebrated its first Veterans Day parade on Sunday, November 8. Police roadblocks turned Old City into a stuck traffic freeze-frame of agitated drivers, missed appointments, closed businesses and slam-on-the-horn road rage. Yes, everybody loves a veteran, but next year please put this parade on the Parkway and remember to keep it out of Center City. ■
Thom Nickels is the author of Philadelphia Architecture, Tropic of Libra, Out in History, Spore, and recipient of the 2005 Philadelphia AIA Lewis Mumford Architecture Journalism Award. email@example.com
W W W. FA C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W. I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 5
EXHIBITIONS Holiday Exhibition Patricia Hutton Galleries 47 West State St., Doylestown, PA 215-348-1728 or 267-454-0496 PatriciaHuttonGalleries.com December 5–January 31
Red Tulip Gallery Holiday Shopping with the Artists 19C West Bridge Street, New Hope, PA RedTulipCrafts.com Open Daily: Sun.- Thurs. 11 - 6, Fri. & Sat. 11 - 9. Throughout December, Red Tulip Gallery will exhibit handmade fine crafts by 21 local artists. The artists will be on hand daily to help you choose the perfect gift for others and yourself from our selection of home decor, jewelry, and personal adornment. Our potters, woodworkers, and glass and fiber artists are happy to share ideas for decorating your home and table with beautiful items for entertaining. Bring a non-perishable food item for donation to the annual Food Drive and receive a special coupon. We are a stop on the town-wide caroling tour every weekend in December and will be serving wine, hot cider, tea and snacks.
Sun and shadows on newly fallen snow, the leafless branches of sleeping giants, frozen ponds and rural structures in the quiet countryside will be the subject of the Holiday Exhibition. A favorite subject for many artists, and all those who appreciate nature in its most tranquil state, the winter landscape exhibition will include oil, pastel, and watercolors by realist and impressionist painters. Among the 23 gallery artists featured will be realist Gene McInerney referred to as “The delicate engineer” by American Artist Magazine. John Parks wrote of his work, “Gene paints delicate views of his beloved Pennsylvania countryside with a fullness and completeness that is utterly satisfying.” Another realist, artist Dean Thomas, paints his favorite local woodlands and rivers with a close-up style that can be almost otherworldly. Other plein air and studio painters will include Barbara Sesta, Susan Blubaugh, Dot Bunn, and Dorothy Hoeschen. All are award-winning, regional artists. Winter-themed watercolors by Steve Zazenski and pastels by Michael Filipiak will also be offered. Besides winter landscape, the holiday show also includes small still life works by Frank Arcuri and ala prima works by Janine Dunn Wade. A Holiday Open House to celebrate the exhibition will be held on Saturday, December 5, from 3- 8 pm.
The Holiday Gift Gallery The Baum School of Art 510 Linden Street, Allentown 610-433-0032 baumschool.org December 1 – 23 Opening Reception: December 2, 6 – 8pm Holiday Happy Hours w/Centro: Dec. 10 & 17, 5 – 7pm The Baum School of Art’s Holiday Gift Gallery brings together the region’s best artists and artisans for a month-long holiday exhibition and sale in the David E. Rodale and Rodale Family Galleries. Featuring fine arts and crafts by sixty local and regional artists and artisans, the Holiday Gift Gallery has everything for your gift buying needs, from pottery and clay works, to ornaments and jewelry, woodturning and glass works, letterpress and stationary, handknit items and handcrafted soaps. We are located in the heart of Allentown’s downtown revitalization and with dozens of new retail shops, restaurants, and the extended Arts Walk, The Baum School of Art’s Holiday Gift Gallery will be part of a bustling holiday shopping destination.
Dean Thomas, Quarry View, oil, 24” x 18”
6 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V. C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
ART A THOUSAND WORDS STORY AND PAINTING BY ROBERT BECK
Chores MY FATHER GREW UP on an egg farm. I thought that term was odd, as if you planted something in the ground and eggs popped up like melons. But we know better. You need chickens. Dad was born in 1910 when horses were an essential part of getting work done around the farm. They had a cow, pigs and, of course, lots of chickens. My father had a wonderful way with livestock, and even later in life animals would come over to him just to visit. Life on a farm is not all sunset hayrides and singing birds trailing ribbons. I heard a lot of stories about pumping water from the well up to the cistern in the attic of the house, cleaning the mounds of crap out of the chicken coop, and many other chores that kept him busy as a kid. I have a photo hanging in my studio that was taken from the second floor that shows the barn, the yard, and the chicken houses. It was a place where work got done. In the background, a plume of steam rises in rhythmic puffs over the tree line as the morning milk train heads on its way to New York. I have another photo of my father as a boy standing in front of a slaughtered pig, which hangs by its back feet from a stout tree limb, throat cut, draining into a bucket. Dad is holding an inflated pig bladder, which was a real prize in a time and place where toys were in short supply. More than a century later some things have changed and some haven’t. The biggest difference is the layers of misdirection between us and those basic realities. Having worked on farms and taken care of livestock, I fall somewhere between being unfazed by the blood on the apron and ignoring the fact that, yes, animals eat animals. (Save your letters.) Some modern practices and behaviors are abhorrent, but I’ve written here about the joys of the perfect hot dog so I’m not fooling anybody. Doreen and I were coming back from a trip to the western part of the state and made a side trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country. My friend John, who does business with egg farmers in that area (coincidence), laid out a route near Ephrata and Old Holland that would take us through some beautiful scenery. We were driving down a road with well-cared-for farms in every direction and came up on a field of corn to our right. Two four-horse teams were coming along the edge of the stand, side by side. The team closest to the corn was pulling a machine that cut and removed a row of stalks, sending them up a chute and tossing them
Robert Beck’s work can be seen at www.robertbeck.net.
onto the wagon pulled by the other team. The pile of stalks stacked high on the wagon like hay, drooping over the sides. The eight horses made it a relatively easy pull and they moved along the stand at a brisk clip. The harvester was driven by a man in his forties, the wagon by a boy in his early teens. An older man distributed the incoming stalks behind the boy. Three generations working together. It was a powerful scene, full of action and drama. As we came closer I was taken by the young boy, standing on the front of the gray wood wagon, dwarfed by the horses and the stack of hay, holding the reins with confidence, commanding those four big animals and keeping pace with the rest of the operation. Dust lifted up from the hooves, swirled above and drifted off to the side. Everyone and everything around him was working in concert, cutting the corn, his chore of the day. I didn’t stop to take a photo. It happened too quickly. Besides, I almost always choose watching something happen over watching my camera take a picture. I need to understand what I’m looking at, where my attention goes, what happens in all the moments, not just the one that ends up on the memory card. The encounter hung with me for weeks. Who wouldn’t love to be that boy, be part of that day in the Dutch country sunshine, with the smell of the husks and the hooves clomping along the furrows? Who wouldn’t love watching the teams working together, doing a job they know well, answering the pull at the end of the row and peeling off toward the barn. It was those things I wanted to name in my painting—the things that young man would recognize as part of his world. One with its own set of realities. ■ W W W. FA C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W. I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 7
Art BY BURTON WASSERMAN
FRANK STELLA THE NEW BUILDING OF the Whitney Museum of American Art, designed by Renzo Piano, is the latest incarnation of an institution long devoted to letting visitors enjoy the latest and the best of creative visual expression in the United States in the city that is the capital of its art world. Look-out locations on the building also offer superb views of different areas of the exciting nearby geography. Furthermore, at this time, besides celebrating the inaugural of the latest version of its home base, the Museum is also showing a career-long retrospective of artworks by Frank Stella, one of the brightest stars in the firmament of this country’s most significant living artists. The exhibition is set to run through February 7, 2016 The installation is a comprehensive treatment of Stella’s overall achievements from the beginning of his working life in the late 1950s to the present day and is made up of 120 pieces, including paintings, reliefs, sculptures and drawings. It was organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth as well as the Whitney, along with rarely seen selections from collections located around the world. The show is accompanied by a scholarly catalog and is situated on the entire fifth floor of gallery space. Credit for organizing the exhibition must go to Chief Curator Michael Auping of the Fort Worth museum and Adam Weinberg, director of the Whitney. Initially, Stella came to the attention of the exhibition scene in New York City when his early, so-called Black Paintings were shown, first at the Museum of Modern Art, then at the Leo Castelli Gallery. They were geometrically shaped, boldly minimalistic compositions, with painted black stripes, separated by unpainted lines of raw canvas, of which “Die Fahne Hoch” is an excellent example. The foundation of his thinking was influenced by the non-representational paintings of Jackson
Frank Stella, Gobba, zoppa e collotorto, 1985. Oil, urethane enamel, fluorescent alkyd, acrylic, and printing ink on etched magnesium and aluminum. 137 x 120 1/8 x 34 3/8 in. (348 x 305 x 87.5 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan Purchase Prize Fund; Ada Turnbull Hertle Endowment 1986.93. © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
8 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V. C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
Frank Stella, Marrakech, 1964. Fluorescent alkyd on canvas. 77 x 77 x 2 7/8 in. (195.6 x 195.6 x 7.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Scull, 1971 (1971.5). © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
W W W. FA C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W. I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 9
Art BY EDWARD HIGGINS
IF YOU THINK ABOUT Coney Island and your mind stops at hotdogs and rollercoasters, you’re in for a big surprise. The land of kitsch, folk art, American Rococo, and yes, hotdogs is the star attraction in the new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum entitled, Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008. It runs through March 13. First of all it’s not an island. Coney Island is located in Brooklyn on the Atlantic Ocean and is cheek by jowl with Brighton Beach, Sea Gate, Manhattan Beach and Gravesend. Total population is about 25,000 squeezed into a stretch about four miles long and a half mile wide. Yes, it once was an island but after being filled in it’s a peninsula, and it still does have a rollercoaster and a Nathan’s. As to the derivation of the name “Coney,” this from the PBS website: There is considerable evidence…that the name Coney Island came into use in the first half of the 19th century, after a ferry service was instituted to carry passengers across Coney Island Creek, at the time a waterway separating the island from mainland Brooklyn. This is consistent with another theory, not often mentioned along
Samuel S. Carr (American, 1837–1908), Beach Scene, circa 1879. Oil on canvas, 12 x 20 in. Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts; Bequest of Annie Swan Coburn (Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn).
10 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
Gambling Wheel, 1900–20 Collection of the New York Historical Society.
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 11
Art Shorts CURATED BY ED HIGGINS
Karel Mikolas at Bethlehem House Gallery The Gallery, at 459 Main Street, Bethlehem, is featur-
the delicate work created by Caitlin McCormick whose solo exhibition, Mnemosyne, can be seen at the Paradigm Gallery + Studio, 746 S. 4th Street, Philadelphia, through December 12. McCormick was graduated from the University of the Arts in 2010 with a degree in illustration. Since then she has exhibited across the country and overseas including San Francisco, Portland, Brooklyn, Miami Beach, and New York. Her museum shows have been at Mutter Museum, and the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn. She lives and works in Philadelphia. The show’s title, Mnemosyne, means memory; McCormick says that she “explores the mind’s attempt to reconstruct fragile remnants of memories before they are tainted.” The sense of the show is an attempt to preserve
“...creates dynamic pieces that are endearingly beautiful with an edge. Her choice of technique is mainly acrylic paintings and graphite drawings, with a focus on fantasy driven images that attempt to capture the state of existence between dream and reality.” A native of Tel Aviv, Filipenko graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and is active in the contemporary art scene in Israel and abroad. She draws inspiration from human relations, the animal world and memories from childhood. “I actually wanted to become a zoologist,” she says, “and have a job where you interact with animals up close. That’s probably the reason why today I love incorporating animals in my artwork.” Filipenko calls her genre “Pop Surrealism” and says, “It’s still not completely familiar here. That’s the reason I mainly exhibit abroad rather than [in Israel].” By abroad she means exhibitions she has held in Los Angeles, Frankfurt, Germany, and New York City. Her work is mostly about her interest in a fantasy world
First Time Chorus Line, terra cotta on wood base, 16 x 12
ing the sculptor Karel Mikolas during its annual Holiday Show which runs through January 9. Mikolas, born in 1939 in Prague, makes his home in Newside, PA, where he maintains a home studio. The Gallery, which specializes in contemporary art in a furnished environment, is continuing to “participate in the holiday traditions that Bethlehem is so well known for,” according to director Ward Van Haute. Mikolas comes from a family tradition of craftsmen and artists. He maintained a studio in Prague after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts there. In 1968, at the invitation of Alexander Calder, he came to the United States. He was encouraged to stay here, and in 1969 he went to work with Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn. After Kahn’s death in 1974, Mikolas bought land in a rural community and set up what he calls, “Nirvana East.” Mikolas has lived and worked there since. He exhibits nationally and is the creator of the Asa Parker sculpture on the Lehigh University campus. Mikolas will appear at the gallery and give a talk on December 10 from 7 to 9 pm. Other local and regional artists in the Holiday show include Lynn Noble, Khalil Allaik, Michael Hess, Femi Johnson, and Deborah Slatha.
Caitlin McCormick at Paradigm Gallery Creating a Cat’s Paw with string is a far remove from
Mansion of Prodigies
that which has turned shadowy. There is a Celtic intertwining of lines, at once mysterious and familiar. “The act of stiffening intricately crocheted cotton string with glue,” says McCormick, “produces material that is structurally similar to delicate bone tissue. The string utilized in this process can be viewed as the basic cellular unit of fabrication, and by implementing media and practices inherited from my relatives, both living and deceased, I aim to generate emblems of my diminishing bloodline, embodied by each skeletal remains. The material of which my work is comprised acts as an alchemical conduit between the garment and the clothesline; acknowledges the latter as a symbol of the ancestry and familiar bonds which have greatly informed my work.”
Julie Filipenko at Arch Enemy Arts Israeli artist Julie Filipenko will exhibit her art from December 11 to January 17 at Arch Enemy Arts, 111 Arch St., Philadelphia. According to the Gallery, Filipenko
12 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
You Can Run But You Can’t Hide
of animals and humans together, although the animals are depicted realistically and the humans resemble a cross between Tinker Bell and the large round-eye waifs of Margaret Keane. Speaking of some of the darker side of her work, Filipenko says, “There’s innocence and a dark side living side by side everywhere. Boundaries are blurr,y and wrong and right are gray areas.” archenemyarts.com ■
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 13
Three bickering siblings with names from Chekhov plays act out Chekhovian dilemmas in a Bucks County farmhouse, helped and hindered by three wacky wannabe actors. That’s the comic time bomb in Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which received a disarmingly charming staging at Cedar Crest College. Sonia and Vanya argue over mundane matters like who makes better coffee and the number of trees in a cherry orchard. Their humdrum life is invaded by the sudden arrival of their diva sister Masha, star of five slasher movies and five marriages. Her baggage includes Spike, a boy toy who shares her vanity. Roles are topsy-turvied by a costume party and Vanya’s long tribute to the simpler, happier era of Davy Crockett, Perry Como and lickable stamps. The splendid soliloquy helped win a 2013 best-play Tony Award for Durang, the longtime owner of a Bucks County farmhouse. Cedar Crest director Tim Brown conducted it like a musical suite, allowing Mike Febbo’s Vanya to modulate beautifully between perplexity and rage, gloom and glowing revelation. At the end he seemed to have flushed his system of antidepressants. Febbo clashed and harmonized nicely with Sarah Slaw Kiewe, who played Sonia with hilarious obliviousness, touching awkwardness and satisfying confidence. Kiewe was an engaging foil to Victoria Scovens’ Masha, a magnetic mash-up of melodrama, camp and confusion. Goran Zdravkovic made Spike a hunky lunk of Olympian proportions, Jaclyn DeCarlo’s ingénue radiated feisty innocence, and Miranda Alvarez’s soothsaying maid was a Caribbean tropical storm of crazy sanity. I was hooked by Muhlenberg College’s production of Chicago the moment that Cameron Silliman began jazzing up the opening number, “All That Jazz.” Playing Velma Kelly: the imprisoned siren, she strutted, slithered and vamped like Josephine Baker on Beyonce steroids. It was one of many delightfully nasty turns in a killer-diller interpretation Director Charles Richter and company added oodles of razzamatazz. Lillian Pritchard gave Roxie Hart, the murderess who becomes a singing sensation in ’30s Chicago, a firecracker voice, jackrabbit legs and the volcanic antics of a silent-film femme fatale. She was matched by Silliman’s panther-like movements, ringing singing and machine-gunning line readings. As Billy Flynn, Roxie’s flim-flam lawyer, Jakeim Hart combined a vaudeville swagger with creamy crooning; in “Razzle Dazzle” he sounded like a muted trumpet. All the big ensemble numbers—“Razzle Dazzle,” “Cell Block Tango,” “We Both Reached for the Gun”—were wickedly efficient and just plain wicked. I especially liked the blocking of Roxie’s trial, where accusations and actions tumbled like dominoes. Lehigh University’s version of Violet proved that you don’t need an outstanding singing voice to stand out. Thin and shaky at times, the vocals packed plenty of emotional wallop. So did everything else. Adapted from Doris Betts’ short story The Ugliest Pilgrim, the musical follows Violet’s 1964 pilgrimage from Oklahoma, where her face was mauled by her father’s ax, to Oklahoma, where she hopes to be healed by a TV preacher. She’s courted by soldiers she meets on a bus, including a black man with whom she debates facial prejudice. Disappointed by the evangelist’s lack of faith, she discovers that the first step to spiritual health is forgiveness. Eden Weinflash made Violet blossom with shrunken, electric body language, endearing frowns and a pleasantly earnest, cutting singing voice. She was particularly effective schooling the soldiers in poker and dreaming of having the traits of leading ladies. As the young Violet, Meg Kelly was spunky and flinty, earthy and lofty. Marcel Logan infused Flick, the African-American soldier, with the vulnerable dignity, unsteady nobility and fractured decency of Porgy in Porgy and Bess. Director Pam Pepper and music director Bill Whitney did a terrific job of managing a complicated mixture of complexities: flashbacks; simultaneous stories; a slippery score— pop, bluegrass, gospel, gypsy jazz--with a fiendishly difficult range. Scenic designer Melpomene Katakalos’ sandwiched set—bus station, motel sign, Coca-Cola wall mural, screened window for the band—doubled as an emotional salvage yard. At times it evoked Edward Hopper’s provocative painting Nighthawks. ■
Equivocation Author Bill Cain and Arden Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen make parodic fun of the Bard’s mythology by turning “Shagspeare” into a legitimate playwright and political moverand-shaker in the London of 1605. Laughs and danger ensue of course; Bill Cain and Nolen allude to several of Shakespeare’s most lucid works with a snarky contemporary twist. Until December 13, Arcadia Stage at the Arden Theatre. Servant of Two Masters Carlo Goldini may have been the first purveyor of Italian Neo-Realism as his street theater aesthetic—despite being Commedia dell’Arte and filled with masks and comic improvisation— touches on the class-conscious clashes between the rich and the poor in Venice. Until December 6, Muhlenberg College Main Stage. The Book of Mormon There’s probably little left to say about the boys of South Park’s rude, lewd, recordbreaking Broadway-hit tale of frustrated missionaries stuck preaching the word of John Smith in Africa. Having witnessed The Book or Mormon several times with unique casts at each performance—twice during the Forrest’s first sold out run in 2013—I can clearly say that I found different things to laugh at every time out. Until December 27, Forrest Theatre. A John Waters Christmas: Holier & Dirtier Does the man behind Polyester, Pink Flamingos and Serial Mom care about film any longer? He hitchhikes around the United States, writes books about hitchhiking around the United States, then does readings and one-man-shows about hitchhiking around the United States, as well as talks about Baltimore before gentrification, morals, mores and human behavior. Oh, and he’s done his Christmas show in the past where he rants for (or against) materialism, Santa, God and whatever his audience can throw at him. That’s fine. December 22, Union Transfer. The Roddenberries celebrate Star Wars: The Force Awakens A selection of renegade Peek A Boo Revue members and their musical friends in the Tayoun family have spent the last several years drinking in the sights and musical sounds of all things Star Trek (vintage Shatner-era Trek not Chris Pine-era Trek). They’ve released albums, YouTube videos and toured the casinos of Las Vegas. Why shouldn’t they share in the sensation that is the new Star Wars on the eve of J.J. Abrams’ next in a series of intergalactic sequels? Na noo na noo. December 10, Underground Arts. Work Drugs Annual Christmas Holiday Spectacular More (local) musical than theatrical, this Philly alterna-pop band and its pals (this year, Kate Faust and Kississippi) always bring out the tree decorations, the spiked egg nog and the jokes and props to go with it. December 12, Johnny Brenda’s. Karaoke Gong Show Holiday Spectacular Philly’s Carmen Martella III has played the ultimate Gong Show host Skeletor for so long, it’s hard to remember that he’s a damn fine actor-impersonator (request his Salvador Dali and see). Plus, the guy loves Christmas and The Troc’s intimate Balcony is a great setting for a Gong Show holiday display. December 19, Balcony at the Trocadero ■
—Geoff Gehman 14 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
—A. D. Amorosi
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 15
The List DECEMBER CURATED BY A. D. AMOROSI
4/5 James Peterson: A Lincoln Portrait Lehigh U’s Director of Africana Studies and the university’s orchestra get together on epic composer Aaron Copland’s classic commemorating the year the Civil War ended, 1865. (Zoellner) 5 Miley Cyrus + The Dead Petz with Dan Deacon Surely, one of THE shows of the year slips in under the wire. Cyrus is a damned great vocalist, mostly when touching upon country. What Cyrus does when working with producer/co-composer Wayne Coyne and the rest of Flaming Lips (collectively, the Dead Petz) is bring the weary, nuanced creakiness of her country crooning to something far odder: droning, vivid ambient psychedelic pop. The show would have sold out without electronic collage artist Dan Deacon. Hell, Deacon alone could’ve packed the Factory, so this is one impressive package. (Electric Factory) 6 Jimmy Sturr Accordionist Jimmy Sturr and his orchestra do holiday and polka favorites with a slew of dancers, singers and guest Gary Puckett of The Union Gap. Having played accordion throughout my youth, this is a joy. (State Theatre) 6 Urban Celebrity Presents the 5th Annual Philly Hip Hop Awards For anyone who hasn’t a clue about the local rap scene (and you don’t, admit it) Urban Celebrity’s party’s a great place to start. (TLA) 8 Kid Cudi Cudi may have started out as one of pop hop’s most reliable rappers, yet with each new album and mix tape project his work has grown denser and more expansive, emotionally, lyrically and sonically. (Fillmore) 9 Q102 Jingle Ball: Calvin Harris, Selena Gomez, 5 Seconds of Summer Slick young FM radio pop at its funnest. (Wells Fargo Center) 9 Joanna Newsome This mistress of the harp and hapless, theatrical folk (see her new album Divers) returns. (Union Transfer)
10 Thievery Corporation Washington D.C.’s long-treasured masters
12 Mac Miller Like Eminem and the Beastie Boys before him, Pittsburgh’s Mac Miller raises the white flag for Caucasian hip hop high,
on HBO and spot Mick Jagger’s kid in the 70s new wave mix, check out Malin and tell me that he couldn’t have played that spunky, rollicking punk better and stronger. (Johnny Brenda’s) 22 John Waters Christmas Still creepy after all these years, Waters has pretty much given up directing tacky films for these funny fireside chats. (Union Transfer)
of Bollywood-dub-David Byrne-inspired electronic soul rule the Fillmore’s wide stage. (Fillmore) 10 Kenny G Saxophonist G has been making things smooth for decades now. Why stop now? (Keswick) 10 The Roddenberries celebrate Star Wars: The Force Awakens Of course, it’s a good time for Star Wars celebrants to gather under the Force what with JJ Abrahms series update just minutes away. What could be finer then to have Philadelphia’s best (and yes, only) interstellar music-themed rock ensemble—usually dressed in Star Trek finery— appropriate the sounds and visions of Han Solo, Darth Vader and Co? (Underground Arts) 11 Matisyahu Celebrating the 10th anniversary of his hit-making Live at Stubbs album, the holy
rolling Matisyahu will strip down that 2005 record’s reggae-righteous hymnals while intoning the word of God. (Keswick) 11 Aimee Mann/Ted Leo Christmas Two post-punk storytellers who discovered acoustic guitars and each other’s best company late in life get together again for Catholic holiday glee. (Union Transfer)
with each new album a deeper probe into his psyche and his habits. Unlike the Beasties (who sadly stopped when one of its ranks died) and Eminem (who has become a cartoon), Miller has gone from childish to adulthood smartly without losing his funhouse groove. (Fillmore)
22 Robert Glasper Experiment The experimental jazz keyboardist known for his leaps into hard R&B and neo-soul is capable of anything. There’s no new album to promote – who knows? (World Café Live) 27 The Roots with Common Jimmy Fallon’s best buddies and the newest recipients of the Philadelphia Walk of Fame Honors join forces with the guy
12 Sweet Honey in the Rock Decades-running legends of African-American folk and soul with a feminine twist continue their reverie. (Annenberg) 13 Todd Rundgren Rundgren was in town twice this year, celebrating his new, mostly electronic album Global with himself, a DJ/sequencer, two female dancers and an outrageous glowy stage set left to represent that project. No fan was just shocked or disappointed by the Runt’s display—surprise is his calling card—yet, admittedly his devoted will be cheered by December’s quick hit at the Keswick with a tight band featuring Utopia bassist and longtime background vocalist Kasim Sulton. (Keswick) 16 The Arcs Members of the bluesy The Black Keys break it down with less swamp rock to its name for this rare live event. (Fillmore) 16 Johnnyswim Christmas Donna Summer’s sonorous songbird daughter and her folky soulful husband present warm winsome mostly acoustic music for the long, cold holiday nights. (Union Transfer) 17 Jesse Malin Before you watch Martin Scorsese’s Vinyl
16 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
from Selma for last minute party in Atlantic City. These guys are old friends— Roots drummer Questlove produced Common’s quirkiest album, Electric Circus—so any groove is good to go. (Borgata) 30 Hoots & Hellmouth / George Stanford Two of Philly’s best known roots approximation-ists take the stage with dramatically rustic tales of the woods without losing their pop-folk effervescence. (Ardmore Music Hall) 31 A Sunny Day in Glasgow Sparkling pop that has nothing to do with Scotland. (Johnny Brenda’s) 31 Joe Russo’s Almost Dead A good way for jam heads to ride out the old year and bring in the new. (Fillmore) ■
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 17
FILM KERESMAN ON FILM REVIEW BY MARK KERESMAN
I Smile Back
N 1970 THERE WAS Diary of a Mad Housewife; in 1997, The Ice Storm. Both films are excellent dramas in what one could term (so I will) the sub-genre Suburban Angst. The audience is introduced to the anguished, quiet-desperationlaced lives of upper-middle and upper-class white people living in the red velvet snake pit of suburbia—of course, these people have lives that would be the envy of many people in this world, but that’s a rant for another time. (For a truly hellish view of suburbia, see the 1968 film The Swimmer, starring Burt Lancaster—but not if you are at all prone to depression.) What looks safe and comfortable on the outside can be the opposite on the inside…which brings us, Dear Reader, to I Smile Back. This film has been gaining notice for the performance of its star, Sarah Silverman, the loveably caustic and occasionally controversial comedienne and actress. This is Silverman’s first straight starring dramatic role—she had a supporting role in Take This Waltz (a good film, but overrated); however, one could tell her character was Sarah Silverman. In I Smile Back, Silverman virtually disappears into the role of a suburban housewife and mother with mental and substance abuse problems. At no point is she the cute and wickedly sardonic Sarah many of us know and love—her character looks haggard and damaged. Silverman gives a superb showing as a woman gradually consumed by inner demons. Laney Brooks (Silverman) is somewhat happily married to Bruce (Josh Charles), her devoted, upwardly-mobile husband, with two cute children, and a mansion-like home in the suburbs. “Somewhat” is defined by her passionate affair with Donny, her friend’s hus-
band, who says he’ll eventually leave his wife for Laney…sound familiar? Laney is prescribed lithium, but also self-medicates with cocktails of cocaine, booze, and pills. When she doesn’t like the side effects of her meds, she stops taking them, and descends into a hellish spiral of self-abuse. Silverman is riveting as an externally pleasant woman with a life that a good portion of the world’s population would like to have, yet she’s profoundly desperate. What the film doesn’t show us is whether Laney abuses substances because she’s unhappy or she’s unhappy because of her drug and alcohol abuse. It’s never clear why she takes meds, so we’re left to guess: depression? bipolar? anxiety? Laney deals with the usual stay-at-home suburban mom stuff, but her depression, however, is not a result of the life she lives—but rather something that happens to a life from within. We’re not shown enough of Laney’s life or character aside from her propensity for self-destruction to determine what exactly those demons are that drive her. With the exception of Charles, who is excellent as a husband that loves his wife but clearly feels pushed to his limits, most of the characters in Smile are not well developed. This is Silverman’s show almost entirely—she displays desperation and occasional hopelessness effortlessly, palpably conveying a mother’s concern for her offspring and the damaged, hollow shell she’s close to becoming. I Smile Back has an ambiguous ending or, perhaps, its ending is a cop-out because the writers simply didn’t know how to end it. Despite its glaring flaws, Smile is worth seeing if only for Silverman’s harrowing performance. I just wish it was in a better movie. ■
18 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 19
FILM CINEMATTERS REVIEW BY PETE CROATTO
S SPOTLIGHT ENDS MERE HOURS after The Boston Globe’s exhaustive 2002 expose of Boston priests sexually abusing kids hits newsstands. A small group of reporters, crammed into the paper’s drab basement office, take phone calls. The incessant ringing provides the soundtrack. People keep trying to get their story, the one that didn’t make that day’s paper, heard. Director Tom McCarthy (The Visitor, The Station Agent) is known for simple yet powerful imagery. Reporting is personal. That McCarthy refuses to label that concept as good or bad exemplifies why Spotlight is endlessly engaging. Real life, and all of its vagaries and incompleteness, becomes cinematic under McCarthy’s unsparing vision. The movie, based on true events, covers July 2001 to January 2002, when the Globe, spurred by new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), unraveled the Catholic Church’s deceitful atrocities in Boston. Initially, Baron has to convince the paper’s investigative Spotlight unit to look into sexual allegations involving only one priest. Catholicism is ingrained in the city—over half of the paper’s subscribers are Catholic. Spotlight reporter Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) still attends Mass with her grandmother. Her editor, Walter V. Robinson (Michael Keaton), attended Boston College High School, the giant Catholic school across the street from the Globe’s headquarters. The Globe and Catholicism represent the city. One deals in reality; the other offers comfort from it. There is
no reason for discord. When Baron meets with Cardinal Law (Len Cariou), the Archbishop of Boston mentions that the press and the Church should work together. It’s not said as a threat, but as a statement. Baron doesn’t see the logic there, or when his underlings dismiss the need to dig deeper into the Church’s wrongdoings. The issues keep changing, expertly, under McCarthy’s watch. He and co-writer Josh Singer focus less on exposing a massive cover-up and more on how the reporters’ handle such a burden. Namely, how do you honestly report on a part of yourself in the town where you live? This allows McCarthy to frame his heroes without cinematic puffery. The four Spotlight reporters—Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) round out the unit— become heroes by doing their jobs, a most ordinary act. The lack of grandeur is the grandeur. The actors, who all excel, come across as regular people. Pfeiffer’s wardrobe is baggy and shabby. As Rezendes, Ruffalo—sporting a mangled Caesar haircut that taints his boyish handsomeness—lurches toward his subjects; the words pour out of his mouth like coffee out of a teeming pot. Schreiber’s Baron, who talks in a hoarse whisper, is more comfortable speaking with a pen and pad nearby. Nobody is dolled up or ready for a close-up, save for reluctant subjects (such as the oily Billy Crudup) whose faces drop upon a reporter’s arrival. In Spotlight, the ponderousness of journalism is celebrated: the clips being dragged from the morgue (i.e., li-
20 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
brary) and wheeled to an office; the phone calls and knocking on doors; the skimming of steak-thick directories. Whereas All the President’s Men inspired a legion of aspiring journalists—hey, kids, you can take down the president of the United States—Spotlight celebrates the job’s realities. Serving the people requires self-sacrifice. Prepare to have people slam doors in your face. Grab your lunch from a vending machine and don’t mind the rats, there’s a deadline to meet. The job does mean something. You see it when Pfeiffer and Rezendes meet with the victims, who are jittery and can’t stop talking. They want someone to hear them, so the secrets stop rattling their souls. Newspapers are losing significance with every new app and social media triumph. And the Internet is even less nurturing to its own progeny—the billboard next to the Globe’s offices touts AOL. (Locally, prospects for journalists are grim. Just ask the 29 Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News staffers who lost their jobs last month. Or everyone who worked at Philadelphia City Paper.) The shots of clippings and reporters poring through documents feel like stock footage from the 1980s. But people still need reporters, the men and women who do the legwork, scale mountains of files, and listen when no one else will. The phones are ringing for a reason. Who will take the calls? The answer to that question will determine whether Spotlight inspired a new wave of great journalists or profiled the final one. [R] ■
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 21
bad movie REVIEW BY MARK KERESMAN
San Andreas WHY do filmgoers love disasters? From Earthquake to Towering Inferno to Airport, The Collective We like to see Big Things go Very, Very Wrong. This time, it’s Los Angeles, the city of [fill in sarcastic word] and it’s hit by an earthquake of all things. But if you think a big, strong man is just going to stand around and let his family perish, you must not see many movies. Never mind that the earthquake looks like a giant three-ton hunk of mozzarella colliding with a tractor-trailer-sized piece of cheddar. To complete the phony feel, the stars do their absolute minimum daily requirement of sleepwalking and maximum scenery-chewing. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a helicopter rescue pilot who must rescue his family. Of course. But in this genre, there’s got to be some static, so his ex- (Carla Gugino, who sinks every TV series in which she stars) is going to marry Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd), a filthy-stinkin’ rich Brit that we are meant to hate. We know this rich prick will leave those he “loves” to die in moments of extreme peril. Here The Rock is our hero, by gum—he can
fly helicopters, fly light aircraft, and drive speedboats at the drop of a hat. The Rock, gosh darnit, can do anything the mealy-mouthed scriptwriters need him to do. Ms. Gugino is straight out of Hollywood Heroine 101—the city is literally crumbling to pieces and she makes plucky jokes and gets all horny for the loins of The Rock. Dear Screenwriters, people don’t make jokes right after Really Bad Things Happen. Let us look at the ways this p.o.s. drops the ball. A woman texts while driving on a mountain road (this movie has a sexist angle as well—women doing brainless things) and what do you know, her car falls. Is she hurt? Not a scratch. Film omnivore Paul Giamatti is reduced to playing a variant of himself, Dr. Paul Giamatti, the seemingly not too bright scientist who says stuff that no one heeds, like “the Big One is heading this way,” and prays at his computer (to appease the anti-science moviegoer?). Which is typical for movies like this: “I told you idiots that if you exploded a nuke in Bakersfield that the Earth would fall out of orbit and head right for the sun!
22 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
But did you listen? Nooo!” The Rock has the luckiest screen family, even luckier than a Bruce Willis screen family: They get in a car crash, a helicopter crash, jump out of a plane, and ride a tsunami, only to find themselves underneath a giant barge. While buildings fall and explode, they remain fine. So clichéd, every rescue is at, naturally, the last possible second. A character who looks like a goner rises from the dead. And to the surprise of no one, the Rock and his wife get back together at the end. Wouldn’t you, Dear Reader, love to witness the main screen couple say at the end: “Oy, I see why we go divorced in the first place! You were a jerk then and you’re a jerk now!” Someone (does it matter who?) says to our hero, “Whadda we do now, Rocky?” The Rock, like everyone ever asked by a newscaster after a disaster, answers, “We rebuild.” Any redeeming factors? Fans of disaster porn will like the special effects and that Rock remains likeable though lacking any conspicuous acting ability. Irwin Allen, you are sorely missed. ■
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 23
From left, Rooney Mara, director Todd Haynes and Cate Blanchett pose for photographers at the photo call for the film Carol, at the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
24 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
BY A.D. AMOROSI
TODD HAYNES’ WOMEN
THIS AUTUMN’S PHILADELPHIA FILM Festival might have been the movie marathon’s strongest local collection of cinematic escapades. That’s true when it came to its list of film events—the premiere of the sure-to-be Oscar-nominated Youth, a Charlie Kaufman fest topped by the writer/director’s puppet-filled Anomalisa—and personalities. Most importantly for fans of still-daring independent filmmaking with an unusually high level of femme-dom, there was Todd Haynes who brought Carol to Philly festival audiences earlier than its December release date. Like his modern classic Far from Heaven, Carol is another look at color saturated 1950s-era repression. Unlike the Douglas Sirk-Ross Hunter dream luster of Haynes’ previous film, Carol’s colors are suitably depressed, less 1955’s All That Heaven Allows or 1959’s Imitation of Life, and more like an Edward Hopper painting of lonely nighthawks at a diner. Unlike Far from Heaven, Carol focuses on an eventually loving (but always intriguing) female relationship between the older Carol (Cate Blanchett) and the younger Therese (Rooney Mara). Starting with the controversial short film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988), continuing with the Moore vehicles Far from Heaven (2002), Safe (1995) and, of course, his HBO serial remake of Mildred Pierce (2011, starring Kate Winslet), Haynes has made films that revel in feminine strength. That same power figures into the androgynous elements of I’m Not There (his Dylan film featuring Cate Blanchett as one of Haynes’ Bobs) and Velvet Goldmine, his fictional look at glam rock’s icons. Haynes is just good with the ladies in his humble estimation. Haynes, sitting comfortably in the lobby of Philadelphia’s Ritz Carlton Hotel, says, “I don’t know if that is about my relationship to women. I don’t think it says anything beyond the fact that I have always been interested in women’s stories, always interested in domestic settings, the inherent burdens and strengths that women must negotiate at all costs.” In Haynes’ mind, women are more complex in their choices than most men, especially when it comes to family, child rearing and love relationships. “Conquest is usually a men’s thing—they are escapist in nature. That’s a great genre and a great tradition, but I’m interested in something else.” When it came to Carol, Haynes was more interested in Patricia Highsmith’s book, The Price of Salt, and the author’s partially true story of a romantic relationship with another woman, published under the pseudonym Claire Morgan—a cinematic tale of forbidden love whose script had been bouncing around Hollywood for the last decade or so. Rather than write his own script, the director relied mostly upon screenwriter Phyllis Nagy’s decades-old texts as well as touching upon Highsmith’s original tale: a chance encounter with an older woman shopping inside a Manhattan department before Christmas in 1948.
“We actually brought elements of the original novel back to the draft,” says Haynes of the final version of the Carol script. “It had changed several times, not odd when you consider that there had been several versions of the script that nearly got made several times in the recent past. We had a good experience doing it, too. Whether you write your own or not, you have to let it go. Every film’s script has multiple stages and with each stage, you have to surrender and submit. You have to know when enough is enough and go with the good that you have— and this was good. You have to make the film—any film— the best that you can, even when you inherit it.” Haynes credits friend and producer Christine Vachon with making certain he stays on track, whether he’s penned an original or if he’s been made a gatekeeper with a gorgeous eye. With Carol’s cinematographic look inspired by the post-war photography of Vivian Maier, the work of Morris Engel and structural narrative elements of Brief Encounter, this was a darker glance into the ‘50s than Haynes’ Far from Heaven; “another brand of discovery and climate and sensibility, a different sort of innocence,” says the director. Mention the grainy, more volatile film of 16mm that he used during Mildred Pierce (“to capture that Depression era feel”), Haynes claims that its use on Carol helped lend his early ‘50s urban cinema-scape something more bleakly dismal than lush. “New York City at that time looked like most post-World War II [cities], an
American town that was dirty, tired, sagging.” He says that the color photography of that time had a “soiled palate that really appealed to me. We really weren’t looking at Hollywood as our model for Carol’s visual language. I looked at the photojournalism and art photography of that particular period.” Haynes also got busy looking at Blanchett’s gams. “Yes, her legs—that’s what changed most in between Cate playing Jude in I’m Not There and Carol,” Haynes said with a laugh. As one of Haynes’ multiple Dylans in I’m Not There, Blachett had to look like a druggy, praying mantis. “Cate dropped so much weight for I’m Not There, she looked like a pogo stick. That was mine and her version of an amphetamine-ized Dylan. Very skinny, dude-like. That was an appropriate look for that film. She didn’t want hips to signify her femininity, to interfere with her portraying a man. In Carol, however…well, I saw her in the fall before we shot the film Carol, and…she…had curves. She looked so great, man, wearing Tom Ford. I was just… gushing. She looked just like a lady. I mean, can somebody get more gorgeous as they age? With Cate, yes.” Haynes goes on to say that Blanchett’s shapeliness was necessary for Carol’s titular role as she is the film’s true object of desire. “She is the older woman with a significant age gap between her and Mara’s Therese, but she’s the one you can’t look away from. We need to be seduced by the image of Carol at every turn and Cate made that possible. She fulfills that in every way—that was exciting. In fact, that’s how the film truly started to take shape for me—seeing Cate, all dressed up, before we started filming.” For all of Blanchett’s cool bluntness and beauty, there had to be vulnerability too, considering where the story goes. With that, Haynes brings up a lunch scene that brackets the film—a flick whose action is viewed mostly through Therese’s eyes. “You believe that it is she who will be destroyed in the relationship if it goes asunder, that Carol holds all the power,” says Haynes. “That lunch, however, shows so many shades of both actresses though. There is a shadow that falls over Cate…Carol….that shows her true vulnerability.” So, too, does Haynes’ take on Carol’s love scenes show his tenderness, a soft spot for delicate decorum and sensuality that is never exploitative, but rather tender, more loving that carnal, yet still highly charged. “There’s no secret to that sort of love scene,” says Haynes. “I just had to be attentive, mindful, of every light, of every angle, of what they are wearing and taking off, the color of the blanket, the sound of the music. It was a whole experience.” When Haynes recalls “Auld Lang Syne” playing he mentions that a corner had just been turned in the relationship of the two women; “something we were waiting for was finally happening.” ■
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 25
INTERVIEW BY R. KURT OSENLUND
The Dual Roles and Dual Talents of
Ewan McGregor Starring in a film that casts him as Jesus and Satan, and getting behind the camera as director for the first time, the Scottish actor, recently feted at the Los Cabos Film Festival, has a big year ahead of him.
THERE’S AN IMMEDIATE IRONY to Ewan McGregor receiving a “Protagonist Award,” an honor presented to him at November’s fourth annual Los Cabos Film Festival. Though he’s now an undeniable leading man, McGregor’s breakthrough role was as Trainspotting’s chief heroin addict, Mark Renton, a consummate antihero who’s less cheer-worthy than he is pitiable. Even after appearing in Danny Boyle’s modern Scottish classic, McGregor continued to take on non-traditional protagonist roles, playing the rebel in films like A Life Less Ordinary and Todd Haynes’s Velvet Goldmine [see our exclusive interview with Todd Haynes on page 25 of this issue]. That McGregor needed to grow into the type of actor who attracts parts that epitomize the classic Hollywood protagonist make his latest accolade feel truly earned. Now 44, he’s become a versatile star who can croon and swoon over Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, or face the ele“I DIDN’T WANT TO DO [“AMERICAN ments as a desperate dad in The Impossible. PASTORAL”] TO DIRECT FOR THE SAKE His award directly speaks to the arc of his career. OF DIRECTING,” HE SAYS. “I WANTTo boot, the film that McGregor starred ED TO DO IT BECAUSE I HAD A in and promoted at the festival was Last Days in the Desert, a Sundance hit soon to STORY I REALLY WANTED TO TELL.” be released in the U.S., and featuring McGregor as one of history’s ultimate protagonists, Jesus Christ. “I focused on the man in the story—in the script,” McGregor says, seated on a beachfront hotel terrace in Cabo San Jose. “It is sort of overwhelming—the idea of playing someone as iconic as Jesus, or trying to live up to the expectations of people. That wasn’t helpful. Usually when you’re playing a character, you try to find different ways in, different avenues, and eventually you find one that works. Here, that had to do with focusing on what was on the page.” Thickening the proverbial plot—and furthering the irony of McGregor’s award—is the fact that Last Days in the Desert, directed by Rodrigo García, also sees the actor play Satan, the ultimate antagonist to Jesus’ hero. “One informed the other,” McGregor says, “and in a way you get to play two sides of somebody’s character. Both make the other whole in a way. It was a unique experience. I’m fond of all my films, but not all of them make you feel this sort of special connection.” The statement begs one to do a mental scan of McGregor’s filmography, surveying the performances that may have lent themselves to his dual turn as savior and sinner. On superficial levels alone, one might see the wisdom of McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi within his latest desert wanderer, while his work as a duplicitous heathen in Angels & Demons has “devil” written all over it. In more nuanced terms, an underrated blockbuster like 2005’s The Island shares similar themes of a doomed soul coming to grips with his fate, while the panned ‘90s thriller Eye of the Beholder cast a young McGregor as an all-seeing menace. These professional stepping stones afford someone like McGregor the chance to do more “special connection” films, as he calls them, and another major one R. Kurt Osenlund is the managing editor of OUT magazine. 26 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
for him in 2016 is American Pastoral. Based on Philip Roth’s 1997 novel, American Pastoral, McGregor explains, is an adaptation to which he’s been attached to star for the last three-and-a-half years, during which time at least three different directors were on board before departing the project. (“Like the drummer in Spinal Tap, they kept falling away,” the actor quips.) Devoted to the film but certain it would never get off the ground, McGregor, who’d gotten a taste for filmmaking after directing a short roughly 15 years back, eventually pitched to producers that he direct the film himself. “I didn’t want to do it just to direct for the sake of directing,” he says. “I wanted to do it because I had a story I really wanted to tell.” After “a period of exploration and budget reduction,” which McGregor describes with a laugh, American Pastoral fell under his guidance, shooting for 35 days and wrapping only a week before his Cabo Film Fest appearance. The undertaking puts McGregor in the esteemed company of luminaries like Orson Welles, Mel Gibson, and Clint Eastwood, each of whom etched their names in cinema’s history books for working both in front of and behind the camera. Starring as athlete-turned-businessman Seymour “Swede” Levov in the mysterious crime drama (adapted for the screen by John Ramano), McGregor directs himself alongside Dakota Fanning, Rupert Evans, and Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly, who plays Seymour’s wife, Dawn. “It was a life-changing experience being involved in the whole creative conversation for the first time,” McGregor says. “I didn’t know how all of that would feel as an actor, but it seemed to make great sense to me, especially while having such brilliant people roundabout me. We’d have conversations, and I’d take those conversations and put them into practice on the set.” McGregor explains that during the last two days of shooting, it was the only time he didn’t act at all, and he kept feeling as if he’d “forgotten something,” finding himself with “far too much free time” outside of the makeup chair, and lacking the need to rush around between takes. While McGregor assures he loved his stint as a maestro, that downtime reminded him of the excitement of being an actor. And there are yet more places to see that excitement in the coming year. In February, he’ll star opposite Natalie Portman in the long-troubled production Jane Got a Gun, channeling his inner antagonist as ruthless gang leader Colin McCann. In April, the Scotsman stars as a Rolling Stone journalist in Miles Ahead, a Miles Davis biopic helmed by another actor-turned-director, Don Cheadle (the film made its world premiere this fall as the closing night selection of the New York Film Festival). And then in May, McGregor will star with Stellan Skarsgård and Homeland’s Damian Lewis in Our Kind of Traitor, from the novel by John le Carré, an author on par with Philip Roth when it comes to penning drama. Lounging in his outdoor seat, McGregor is pleasingly at ease in Los Cabos’s tropical setting, and he’s dressed for the occasion. He’s sporting white loafers with red socks and breezy trousers, and a sport coat that’s the same blue as the sea behind him. The look is enough to cause the actor to fade into the background—but that’s not happening anytime soon. ■
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 27
THE SOUTHSIDE ARTS DISTRICT Thru Dec. 24. Brighten your holiday season by shopping and dining in SouthSide Bethlehem. Visit participating shops and restaurants to enter the free Lucky Drum drawing. Win gift certificates and prizes from local merchants that are sure to please the most Scroogiest of Grinches. The fun, the creativity, the soul—The SouthSide. For more information please visit facebook.com/SouthSideArtsDistrict CHRISTMAS CITY VILLAGE Weekends, Thru Dec 20, 11 AM-8 PM (Fri. & Sat.);11 AM-5 PM (Sun.). Presented by Bethlehem Chamber & Downtown Bethlehem Association. Authentic German Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) is in Bethlehem’s historic downtown shopping district along Main Street. Visit 35 wooden huts dressed for the Holidays & filled with Christmas gift ideas. downtownbethlehemassociation.com CHRISTMAS CITY STROLL Thru Jan. 10 (no tours Dec. 25 & Jan. 1); Mon.–Tues., by appt.; Wed.–Sun., 11 AM-4 PM; Dec. 24, 11 AM. Presented by Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites. Certified guides in period dress lead you through centuries of Bethlehem’s history. Tickets at Visitor Center. HistoricBethlehem.org 1-800-360-TOUR or 610-691-6055.
Downtown Bethlehem Assoc. Take a self-guided tour of Bethlehem’s two great shopping districts and see the magical, holiday displays.Vote for your favorite door and window—maps and ballots available at downtown businesses. Enter to win a $1,000 Downtown Bethlehem shopping spree. downtownbethlehemassociation.com BETHLEHEM BY NIGHT BUS TOUR Thru Dec. 27; Thurs.–Sun., 5, 6, & 7 PM.; No tour 11/29. Presented by Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, 505 Main St., Bethlehem. Tickets at Visitor Center. HistoricBethlehem.org. 1-800-360-TOUR,610-691-6055. HISTORIC HOTEL BETHLEHEM CHRISTMAS TOUR Daily, beginning Nov. 27. Presented by Historic Hotel Bethlehem, 437 S. Main St., Bethlehem. A self-guided tour of the hotel’s dazzling Christmas displays. 35,000 lights, 26 sparkling Christmas Trees, 35 wreaths, seven Toy Soldiers and a gingerbread replica of the hotel. Free. hotelbethlehem.com 610-625-5000 HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE RIDES Thru Dec. 31 (no rides Dec. 24–25); Thurs.–Sun., 3-9 PM, every 20 min. (no rides 6-6:20 PM for break). Presented by Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites. HistoricBethlehem.org. 1-800-360-TOUR or 610-691-6055.
CHRISTKINDLMARKT BETHLEHEM Dec. 3-6, 10-13, 17-20. Thurs. & Sun., 11 AM-6 PM. Fri. & Sat., 11 AM-8 PM. Presented by ArtsQuest. PNC Plaza at SteelStacks, 645 E. First St., Bethlehem. Named one of the best holiday markets in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure. Aisles of handmade works; live holiday music; demonstrating artists; make your own glass ornaments; jolly, old St. For ticket prices www.christmascity.org. 610-332-3378
LIVE ADVENT CALENDAR Dec. 1-23, 5:30 PM. Presented by Bethlehem Chamber and the Downtown Bethlehem Assoc. Goundie House, 505 Main St, Bethlehem. downtownbethlehemassociation.com
DOORS OF BETHLEHEM Thru Dec. 25. Presented by Bethlehem Chamber and the
CHRISTMAS CITY FOLLIES December 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20 at 8pm.
28 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
WHITE CHRISTMAS Dec. 3-4, 1:30. ArtsQuest, Bethlehem. In Red Cinema. NR, 120 min. Regular feature prices.
Matinee: Dec. 6, 13, 19, 20 at 2pm. Touchstone Theatre, 321 East Fourth Street, Bethlehem. Celebrate with high-spirited, homegrown, vaudevillian variety show. .touchstone.org. 610-867-1689
SERVICE OF LESSONS AND CAROLS Dec. 20, 9am in the Chapel and 11am in the Sanctuary. Presented by Central Moravian Church. 610-866-5661 centralmoravianchurch.org.
FEGLEY’S BREW WORKS CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL Dec. 5. 50+ craft beers & vendors, special VIP hour guests, exclusive tappings. Allentown Brew Works, 812 Hamilton St., Allentown. 610-433-7777. Discounted presale tickets at TheBrewWorks.com.
TWELVE TWENTY FOUR Dec. 28, 7:30 PM. Holiday Rock Orchestra inspired by The TransSiberian Orchestra. Zoellner Arts Center, 420 E. Packer Ave., Bethlehem. 610-758-2787, Zoellnerartscenter.com. For full performance schedule: twelvetwentyfour.net.
BREAKFAST WITH ST. NICHOLAS Dec. 5, 12 & 19, 9am. Presented by Capital BlueCross. A delicious hot breakfast, photo with St. Nick, admission to Christkindlmarkt, goodie bag, arts & crafts and more are included. artsquest.org. 610-332-3378 MORAVIAN CHRISTMAS EXPERIENCE Dec. 5, 1:30 PM. Presented by Central Moravian Church, Central Moravian Church Sanctuary. Enter the 208-year-old Sanctuary of Central Moravian Church and experience the sounds, sights and traditions of a Moravian Christmas. Free-will offering. centralmoravianchurch.org, 610-866-5661 A ROCKEPELLA CHRISTMAS Dec. 10. The All Vocal Spectacular. 7pm, State Theatre, 453 Northampton St., Easton. 610-252-3132, 1-800-999-STATE. Statetheatre.org NUTCRACKER Dec. 12, 3 PM & 7 PM. State Theatre, 453 Northampton St., Easton. 610-252-3132 Statetheatre.org JIMMY & THE PARROTS’ HOLIDAY PARROT PARTY Dec. 18, 8 PM. Presented by ArtsQuest. Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling, ArtsQuest Center, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem. Advance tickets: $10-$12; Day Of Show: $12-$15. steelstacks.org. 610-332-3378
PEEPSFEST™ Dec. 30, 10 am to 4 pm. Presented by ArtsQuest. Dec. 31, 10 am to 5:30pm. Steelstacks in Bethlehem, PA. PEEPSFEST™ presented by Just Born Quality Confections is a free, family-friendly, PEEP-tastic festival that celebrates the fun and excitement of the PEEPS Brand. THE RED ELVISES NEW YEAR'S EVE SPECTACULAR Dec. 31, 8pm. Presented by ArtsQuest. Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling, ArtsQuest Center, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA. Tickets $99/$89/$30/$25/$20/$15. steelstacks.org. 610-332-3378 PEEPSFEST™ 5K Dec. 31, 8am. ArtsQuest Center, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA. Themed with PEEPS, the sweet confection that has won the hearts of the world, the 5K will travel the streets of Bethlehem on the route and will start and end at the Steel Stacks Campus. $30 before December 22, $35 day of the event. steelstacks.org. 610-332-3378 NEW YEAR’S EVE SERVICE Dec. 31, 11:30 PM. Presented by Central Moravian Church. Central Moravian Church Sanctuary. 610-866-5661. centralmoravianchurch.org.
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 29
FILM FILM ROUNDUP
CURRENT FILMS REVIEWED BY KEITH UHLICH
Anomalisa (Dirs. Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman). Starring: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh. I was no fan of Charlie Kaufman’s Synecodoche, New York (2008) in which a morose playwright (Philip Seymour Hoffman) stumbled into oblivion. Kaufman’s second directorial effort—a stop-motion animated feature that he cohelmed with Duke Johnson—is much more tolerable, if still relentlessly gloomy. David Thewlis voices unmotivated motivational speaker Michael Stone, who flies into Cincinnati for a conference at the Hotel Fregoli (a reference to the Fregoli delusion, in which someone believes that different people are actually the same person). The film’s most inspired conceit is having the great Tom Noonan voice all the insidiously anesthetizing characters that Michael meets. Only one individual sounds different: Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a flighty hotel guest with whom Michael has a fleeting affair. Their interactions feel very stagebound (no surprise Kaufman adapted the film from his own play), and the expectedly bleak insights into human nature are featherweight. The animation is impressive, though as in Synecdoche, Kaufman sucks all joy out of the proceedings, wallowing in skin-deep miserablism. [R] ★★1/2
The Big Short (Dir. Adam McKay). Starring: Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling. Imagine a Judd Apatow comedy comprised entirely of unfunny outtakes and interminable deleted scenes. That’ll give you a sense of the disaster that is this adaptation of Michael Lewis’s bestselling book about the 2008 financial crisis and the oddball market watchers who attempted to reap the benefits of Wall Street’s stupidity. State of the union satire doesn’t become director and co-screenwriter Adam McKay (Anchorman, Step Brothers) who never finds a cohesive comic rhythm and leaves his cast to flail about in the resulting 130-minute morass. (Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling’s Method-y masochism and machismo, especially, have never felt so grating.) The occasional good idea—having celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Selena Gomez break the fourth wall to explain complex financial terminology—doesn’t make up for the logy tempo or the irritating, incoherent handheld photography by Barry Ackroyd who shoots this toothless burlesque like one of the hyped-up Paul Greengrass joints (United 93, Captain Phillips) on which he leant his dubious eye. [R] ★
Bone Tomahawk (Dir. S. Craig Zahler). Starring: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins. The other Kurt Russell period western of the season makes for good counter-programming to Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming The Hateful Eight. Writer-director S. Craig Zahler’s feature film debut is a simple, leisurely-told tale of “four doomed men” of the Old West who ride out in search of a woman (Lili Simmons) kidnapped by cannibal Indians. Russell is the laconic sheriff, Matthew Fox is the dandyish psycho, Patrick Wilson is the determined cripple (it’s his wife who has been abducted), and Richard Jenkins (the film’s soulful MVP) is the Walter Brennan-ish deputy. Zahler’s dialogue is terse and layered (Jenkins has an especially cutting quip about Manifest Destiny), though his eye suffers from first-timer jitters—this is a movie whose pleasures are primarily verbal. Nonetheless, there is a killer image involving the titular implement; guaranteed you’ll never look at a butcher chopping prime cuts the same way. [N/R] ★★★1/2
30 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
Creed (Dir. Ryan Coogler). Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson. It coulda just been “Rocky VII,” yet what’s great about cowriter-director Ryan Fruitvale Station Coogler’s continuation of the popular palooka film series is how it’s clearly a long-gestating labor of love. The premise is pure fan-fiction: Turns out Philly-residing pugilist Rocky Balboa’s deceased nemesis-turned-friend Apollo Creed had an illegitimate, boxing-loving son named Adonis (Michael B. Jordan, every inch a star), who heads to the city of brotherly love to find the retired Rock (Sylvester Stallone, easily sliding back into his iconic role) and convince him to be his trainer. Coogler’s approach, however, is anything but derivative, finding a nice balance between the credible and the crowdpleasing. There are fights-a-plenty here, all of them superbly shot by ace cinematographer Maryse Alberti. (Adonis’ first true pro fight is captured in a beautifully constructed and choreographed single take.) Yet Coogler also teases out a genuine emotional undercurrent—notably in Adonis’ tender romance with a hard-of-hearing musician (the lovely Tessa Thompson)—that seems much more of the first “Rocky” than any of its campy sequels. [PG-13] ★★★★ ■
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 31
FILM REEL NEWS RECENTLY RELEASED DVDS REVIEWED BY GEORGE OXFORD MILLER
Pawn Sacrifice (2015) ★★★★ Cast: Tobey Maguire, Peter Sarsgaard, Live Schreiber, Michael Stuhlbarg Genre: Drama, biopic Rated PG-13 Running time 116 minutes. At the height of the Cold War, young chess master Bobby Fischer was both the high-concept symbol of America superiority over the Soviet Union and a highspeed train wreck speeding toward disaster. The pride and prestige of the nation rested on the shoulders of a paranoidschizophrenic, anti-Semitic Jew raised in Brooklyn by a communist-sympathizing mother during the nationally obsessed red scare. His nemesis on the global stage for world champion was the unflappable, cool-and-collected Boris Spassky (Schreiber). Maguire immerses himself deep in the troubled soul of Fisher while his manager (Stuhlbarg) and trainer (Sarsgaard) fill out the multi-layered cast. Though standard in its presentation, this biopic develops edge-of-the-seat tension for a contest of sitting and staring at a game board.
Goodnight Mommy (2015) ★★★★ Cast: Susanne Wuest, Lukas Schwarz, Elias Schwarz Genre: Thriller, horror Rated R In German with subtitles. For horror fans, this disturbing story combines all the standard freaky elements, and much more. We get a deranged mother (Wuest) and twisted kids sequestered in a remote country house. When mom returns home covered in bandages after facial surgery, the twin 9year-old boys sense that something isn’t right. Is she really their mother? Gradually the tension builds, not with scary shock scenes, but with nightmarish dread. The inseparable twins, played by actual brothers, behave as normal children in horror movies—they play in a cornfield, exhibit creepy behavior, and become increasing skeptical of their once-loving mother’s altered cruel personality. Desperate to determine if she’s an imposter, and where their real mother is, they begin a emotionally and physically torturous inquisition, with, of course, an unanticipated plot twist at the ending.
Mistress America (2015) ★★★★ Cast: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke, Genre: Comedy Rated R Running time 86 minutes. The country-girl-meets-sophisticatedNew-York-gadabout theme has had many predecessors, yet this high-speed comedy manages to maintain a zesty freshness. When Tracy (Kirke) heads to college to become a fiction writer, she gets slapped down at every step. Disillusioned with rejection, she looks up her older soon-tobe stepsister, Brooke (Gerwig). Brooke can’t wait to show her new best friend how great New York is, or rather how great her life is. Or appears to be. Her frenetic socialite lifestyle is flashy in-yourface, but like the lights at Times Square, never goes anywhere. Meanwhile, Tracy hones her writing skills with a not-socomplimentary story based on zany Brooke. With comic contrast, the two reflect the opposite ends of serious and oblivious, pessimistic and naiveté, selfdoubt and narcissism, but while Brooke is all talk, Tracy is all write.
32 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
Time Out of Mind (2015) ★★★★ Cast: Richard Gere, Ben Vereen Genre: Drama Not Rated Running time 117 minutes. We all know Richard Gere’s character George: he’s the homeless man we pass on the street with little more than a glance. We profile him as a loony, a drunk, a druggy, or in some other dehumanizing category. However, this low-budget, highconcept art-house film is about more than the plight of the homeless. It asks us to accept George without any backstory or excuses, and not to profile, judge, or compartmentalize him. It wants us to understand that every person’s life is important down to the minutiae of mundane, daily events. Using long shots to not intrude on the scene, the camera follows George through the streets of New York to shelters and into parks where a bench becomes a hallowed home. Tellingly, no one on the streets recognized Gere during the three weeks of filming. In most movies the protagonist changes, but the concept here is to change the viewer’s perception of the protagonist. ■
SHOTS WITH SANTA Sat., December 12, 1:00–6:00pm Spend some time in Downtown Easton this holiday season. With 50+ specialty shops and boutiques with everything from climbing gear, to antiques, to handmade gifts, to retro video games, you’ll be sure to find a gift to fit everyone on your list. Shopping got you hungry? You won’t eat badly in this town! We’re serving up 35+ restaurants with menus ranging from Colombian hot dogs to frog legs. And who can miss our 106’ Easton Peace Candle in Centre Square, setting the holiday mood for the whole downtown. Santa is coming to Downtown Easton! If you’re looking to have some fun while you’re out shopping, join us for Shots with Santa on Saturday, December 12 from 1:00-6:00pm. Our retail shops will each have a unique Santa for a holiday photo op along with a shot of holiday cheer. Share your photo to our Facebook page or on Instagram #shotswithsanta for a chance to win. Pick up a game card at participating locations. For details and participating businesses, visit www.eastonmainstreet.org/shotswithsanta W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 33
8 / FRANK STELLA
Pollock and Franz Kline, but with a unique identity, decidedly his own. Virtually without exception, the paintings of Stella that came along immediately after the flowering of the abstract expressionist school were stark examples of a heroically forceful strain of aesthetic simplification. They proceeded in a direction parallel to the abbreviated purity found in the art of Josef Albers, Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt. Like these painters, Stella made images that forcefully assert a painterly flatness that is unequivocally incisive, highly sophisticated and utterly non-compromising in their remarkable uniqueness. In short, they are objects with an absolutely independent life of their own. In 1970, the Museum of Modern Art in New york City graced Stella with a solo exhibition of his work to that time. He was the youngest artist ever accorded such an honor at that venue and the distinction survives to this day.
By and by, his planar configurations were followed by an extremely provocative, aggressively active, baroque oriented approach. In 2009, Stella was given the National Medal of the Arts by President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. Today, Stella is represented by two galleries. The first is Marianne Boesky which features new developments. The second, Dominique Lévy, focuses on early examples. Ultimately, over the years Stella’s art has manifested a curiously consistent sense of artistic presence that asserts the truth and reality of its own, authentic being. The more time you spend making contact with it, the more it becomes a part of you and the complex neural structure at the central core of your inner being. ■ 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY (718) 638-5000. brooklynmuseum.org
Frank Stella, Grajau I, 1975. Paint and laquer on aluminum. 82 x 132 in. (208.3 x 335.3 cm). The Glass House, A Site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
34 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 35
10 / CONEY ISLAND
with the others, but compelling nonetheless. According to an article published in the “Sligo Champion,” an Irish captain named Peter O’Connor sailed the schooner Arethusa between New York and Ireland in the late 1700s, and named Coney Island after an island that lay a mere mile from his home in Sligo. This Coney Island was, and is, about one mile long and about half a mile wide—much like the American version. The Brooklyn show comprises about 140 items from the sublime to the popular. There are paintings by William Merritt Chase, John Henry Twachtman, Joseph Stella, and Reginald Marsh.The show also features photographs ranging from regular tourist snapshots to those by Walker Evans, Diane Arbus, Bruce Davidson, and Weegee. Canvas signs, painted icons, and a marvelous gaming wheel owned by the New York Historical Society and created between 1900 and 1920 of wood glass and metal are all included in the show. The requisite wooden horses from a merry-go-round are also on display. Charles Looff, a Danish woodcarver, built the first carousel with painted horses and other animals standing two abreast. In those days it cost a nickel to ride. Reginald March is represented with two tempera paintings on wood panels. One shows riders on the merry-go-round seemingly going faster than racehorses, and the other is a scene outside of a sideshow. American artist Samuel Carr has a beach scene from 1879 showing the upper classes enjoying the beach. And, in what would seem to be a natural, Red Grooms shows a crowded beach with city dwellers attempting to sunbathe. The storied attractions of the island began development in the 1840s. Later, Robert Moses, legendary master planner of New York, would have his way with the area, as would Fred Trump (Donald’s father), but the area survived. Between 1880 and World War II, the complex of rides and other attractions would make Coney Island the largest amusement area in the country. From 1885 to 1896, the iconic Coney Island Elephant would be the first sight to greet immigrants. After World War II, a country of air-conditioned theaters, cheap gas and new highways took the crowds to other attractions and the decline of Coney Island began. Any number of development plans and schemes, including casino gambling, have been floated over the years, but today the amusement area is going strong with rides, attractions, eating establishments, games, and, of course, a sideshow. Three Coney Island rides are on the National Register of Historic Landmarks: the Wonder Wheel, a Ferris wheel built in 1918; the Cyclone, one of the oldest wood rollercoasters in the country built in 1927; and the Parachute Jump, originally built for the 1939 World’s Fair. The exhibition seeks to trace the history and art of the island, to catch its “historic beginnings as a watering hole for the wealthy, its transformation into a popular beach resort and amusement Mecca, its decades of urban decline …and its recent revival as a vibrant and growing community.” ■ Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York (718) 638–5000 brooklynmuseum.org
Reginald Marsh: Pip and Flip, 1932, tempera on paper mounted on canvas, 48¼ inches square. Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago.
Arnold Mesches: Anomie 1991: Winged Victory, 1991, acrylic on canvas, 92 by 135 inches. San Diego Museum of Art.
36 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
Celebrate the Holidays in Frenchtown, New Jersey What better way to enjoy a charmed holiday season than by spending it along the scenic river in Frenchtown? Holiday events kick off with Shopping Just Got Better. Each time you spend $25 or more through December 26 in any participating merchant store you will receive an entry to win a Shopping Just Got Better gift basket. In addition to the raffle, special offers and menus will be happening all month in the shops and restaurants. The Frenchtown tree lighting ceremony includes caroling by the Delaware Valley High School Choir, on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 4:00PM. Santa will arrive by the river, a great opportunity for a unique holiday photo, date tbd. Stay up to date with all that is happening around town this holiday season and visit frenchtownnj.org for details. W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 37
MUSIC NICK’S PICKS REVIEWS OF STRAIGHT AHEAD & MODERN JAZZ BY NICK BEWSEY
Tom Harrell ★★★★1/2 First Impressions HighNote The lyrical trumpeter Tom Harrell has often integrated jazz and strings in his projects to great effect. His beautiful, shimmering album, Paradise (2001, RCA) is a good example of his compositional style. Since then, especially on his six recordings for the HighNote label, his writing and playing consistently reveal both his sophis-
classical tradition while comfortably detouring through other musical styles—it’s a sonically gratifying masterpiece and surely a personal best for Mr. Harrell. (8 tracks; 64 minutes) Erik Friedlander ★★★★ Oscalypso Skipstone Records Cellist Erik Friedlander understands the value of swing throughout Oscalypso, his joyful, thoroughly engaging tribute to the late bassist, cellist and influential com-
unexpected rhythmic possibilities that are surprising for a cello-led jazz quartet. That’s a testament to Friedlander’s ingenuity. Other tunes, mostly obscure to us nonmusicians, serve up juicy, colorful melodies followed by terrific improvisations. The leader’s arrangements have a natural, dynamic flow, providing plenty of space for Blake’s sinewy sax lines and Dunn’s deep, plummy bass notes. The emotive ballad, “Two Little Pearls” is a standout with its mix of jazz and classical motifs as is Pettiford’s famed “Tricotism,” but each tune is a winner, played with panache and exquisite taste. (9 tracks; 44 minutes) Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra ★★★★ Into Forever Gondwana Records A British trumpeter, DJ and bandleader who’s not so well-known stateside, Matthew Halsall composes and plays soulful, cinematic music that pulls from East-
tication and accessibility. Harrell establishes a quiet brilliance on First Impressions with frequent collaborators—pianist Danny Grissett, saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Johnathan Blake—that fold jazz improvisations into classical tunes by modernist composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. It’s a magnificent record that resonates with superior interplay and fertile arrangements where Harrell uses elements as diverse as bossa rhythms (“Perspectives”), Latin music (“Sarabande”) and subtle hip hop grooves (“Sainte”). Harrell, 69, has a long and accomplished discography and the warm tone that flows from his trumpet and flugelhorn reminds me of the liquid sound of Art Farmer. He states in the liner notes, “When I arrange another person’s composition, I try to show respect.” Listening to each of the diverse, absorbing tracks is proof of his limitless creativity. As a whole, this nine-piece chamber ensemble album oscillates between jazz and the European
poser Oscar Pettiford. While his name won’t be familiar to many folks, Pettiford was an important bebop musician in the ‘50s who put his stamp on many dates with jazz legends including albums by Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. He’s also credited with discovering saxophonist Cannonball Adderley. Although he passed away in 1960 when he was just 38 years old, his music and commanding style remain affecting and inspirational. Friedlander takes a fresh look at nine Pettiford originals (you’ll recognize the jazz standard “Bohemia After Dark”) with a band of experienced veterans featuring saxophonist Michael Blake, bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Michael Sarin. He modernizes Pettiford’s tunes, always keeping swing at their core—the band’s got a way with finding a groove and opening up
ern influences and down-tempo lounge styles and fuses that into a blend of spiritual jazz that he’s been developing over the course of his five solo albums. On the brief but mesmerizing Into Forever, Halsall looks back to move the music forward. There’s a conscious connection to the ‘60s music of harpists Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby along with nods to Leon Thomas and Yusef Lateef—all inspirations. Halsall cleverly and honestly forges a luxurious sonic landscape with retro flair, guiding his small yet potent string orchestra on drum and bass-filled vocal tracks that glow and simmer. Josephine Onlyama is one of two featured singers on soaring
38 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
tunes that gently throb with a supremely modern pulse. It’s notable that Halsall’s instrumental presence is held to a minimum (he only plays on two tracks), but that doesn’t detract in the least. To really hear his sweet sound on the horn, download his earlier acoustic effort, Fletcher Moss Park, on iTunes. matthewhalsall.com (11 tracks; 37 minutes) Kenneth Salters Haven ★★★★ Enter To Exit Destiny Records Drummer and bandleader Kenneth Salters is a smooth operator of rhythm, textures and flow. The tunes on his debut album, Enter To Exit, are executed with precision by his band Haven, a NYC-based group (featuring ace pianist Brad Whiteley) and they definitively move the needle on nine alt-flavored modern jazz tunes. To his credit, Salters doesn’t amplify the beats over the sound of his righteous front-line of horn players (virtuoso saxophonist Myron Walden and rising-star Tivon Pennicott; trumpeter Matt Holman), but he’s not shy either. The well-rounded
compositions give everyone an opportunity to shine while Salters conveys a fluid range of inventive time signatures, working his kit with impressive resolve. His originals hit the mark (“when You Find Out”), but two covers—Dolly Parton’s gospel-kissed “Halo and Horns” and popflavored “Stop The Sun” by Elysian Fields, a group that Salters also plays with—convey an overt emotional vibe that grounds this album and defines Haven as a significant band. (9 tracks; 61 minutes) ■
MUSIC feature BY A. D. AMOROSI
IF ANYONE IS GOOD at keeping secrets that burst into full-blown actualities, with aesthetic values that are unequaled by most other artists, musical or otherwise, it’s David Bowie. He made headlines in 2013 by releasing his first studio album in ten years (on his birthday) with The Next Day and zero pre-publicity, a move that Justin Timberlake and Beyonce stole in his wake. Bowie followed that up with a quietly recorded and released avant-garde jazz track, “She,” dropped on Record Store Day 2014. Bowie spent 2015 again under wraps, yet not without work considered and consolidated in seclusion: an internationally traveling exhibition of his wares and wearables, David Bowie Is…; a glamorous box set of his career’s start point, Five Years; a soundtrack title sequence song to the BBC television series, The Last Panthers. At November’s end, there was Lazarus, to which Bowie composed the music (some, remade from his past such as a new version of “This is Not America”), co-wrote its book and initiated the process. This avant-theatrical musical drama with Belgian director Ivo van Hove, Irish playwright Enda Walsh and principle actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter) is based on Walter Tevis’ The Man Who Fell to Earth, a novel whose film version Bowie starred in 1976. Lazarus plays out at the Off Broadway New York Theater Workshop until January, the original home of Once and Rent, with Lazarus being this theater season’s fastest sell-out. At the same time of Lazarus’ opening, Japanese photographer Sukita ( who published his book of renowned Bowie photos, Speed of Life in 2014), debuts an exhibition of his Bowie snaps at Manhattan’s Morrison Hotel Gallery that premiered in November with existing elements of the show up through 2015. Lastly, there is word—with sparse images and music—trickling out for Bowie’s next album, again released on his January 8 birthday, Blackstar and its initial single ★ (pronounced “Blackstar”) whose sounds and visions can be spied here www.imablackstar.com.
glimmer of hope that a fellow alien soul could aid him in his desire to be set free. Played with lizardy grace by the one-time star of Six Feet Under, this new Newton is lost and unknowable, yet no less sensual (at least to the viewer) for the chill. Without giving away the game (because who wants to piss off Bowie, as I’m reporting on this from one of its previews), Lazarus feels as if it is inspired, in equal measures, by Mike Nichols’ adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti’s long-ago staged production of Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Brokenhearted. Like Lynch’s work, the photographs that capture Bowie at his best have a panicked, paranoid feel. For 40-plus years, Japanese photographer Sukita has had the rare distinction of being one of a fleeting few continued creative collaborators—and a man who has aided Bowie in his quest for nervous abstraction. “I’m sure David Bowie is much more a success than my images of him are,” says Sukita about the British rocker whose image is captured in nearly 40 photos at Morrison Gallery and their published Speed of Life collaboration. “But it’s flattering and an honor to be part of the history, even if it is through a few photographs.” Sukita’s favorite snap of Bowie is the quickly-famous photo/cover of Heroes, whose stark, simple grayness and its stoic glance is “legendary,” says Sukita, and the music itself. “This photo session was in a relaxed mood and everybody had fun in the studio.” Bowie previously worked with Mick Rock before Sukita and currently—at age 68—relies on New York City photographer Jimmy King for coverage (wait until you see the Bowie lithographs that will accompany Blackstar). Is there any chance of Sukita doing another photo shoot with Bowie in the near future, especially considering how the planes and lines of Bowie’s face have changed? “It’s sort of up to him,” says Sukita. “It would be great to do more photo shoots with him. I’m looking forward to that day and hope it will happen.” ■
THE PRETTIEST STAR David Bowie is everywhere
While ★ is a broodingly ambient dirge with a liturgical feel, a throbbing pulse, a desolation row lyrical mien and a quirky vibrating Bowie vocal (could the entire album feel like this?), Lazarus as a whole is a bleak and blackly comic work overstuffed with elements of corruption, loneliness and alienation. Bowie’s one-time lead role (Thomas Jerome Newton, played by Hall) is a drunk, utterly disabled by his inability to die with only a
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 39
MUSIC AN ECLECTIC ASSORTMENT REVIEWED BY MARK KERESMAN
Miles Davis ★★★★★ At Newport 1955-1975: The Bootleg Series Vol. 4 Legacy Recordings The importance of Miles Davis is welldocumented—he’s one of the most influential jazz trumpeters and bandleaders ever, up there with Charlie Parker (with whom he played back-when), John Coltrane (a member of Davis’ bands), and Louis Armstrong. Davis has excited genera-
tions of listeners and polarized them, too—he was among the first jazz musicians to “go electric” and embrace/engender fusion (which some people haven’t forgiven him for). This four-CD set consists of mostly (but not entirely) previously unreleased performances from his acoustic heyday to his electric ensembles fueled by funk, free, African, rock, and electronic inspiration(s). While some of the tracks here are lengthy, Miles & company use space in intriguing ways. (Miles mostly rejected the avant-jazz of the early ‘60s but he did learn a thing or two from it.) You get modal/cool jazz with the legendary group with Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, and Bill Evans; what some maintain was the greatest jazz combo of the 1960s, with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Tony Williams; and churning, feverish forays into a funky netherworld with Keith Jarrett (on electric keys, which he hated), Michael Henderson (before he became an R&B star), the amazing Pete Cosey, Gary Bartz, and Chick Corea. True, Miles fans are going to need this but anyone wanting to get a partial yet crucial overview of jazz during the 1955–’75 years, it’s worth brown-bagging a few lunches to obtain this. Recording quality is mostly excellent, and so is Miles’ playing. (41 tracks, 297 min.) legacyrecordings.com
Son Little ★★★★1/2 Son Little AntiThis is the debut album of Son Little, aka Aaron Livingston, who plays most of the instruments and sings all parts herein. He’s collaborated with The Roots and Mavis Staples and counts Paul McCartney as an influence—and those are good touchstones for this album. Bloodlines of R&B/soul of the past and more recent years course through this. There’s a substantial gospel tinge (especially in the harmonies) and the slick-but-inspired studio craft of The Cute Beatle. But what will likely get you is his voice—he has a
over melody (though there are snatches of semi-sweet folk-like melody here), what Pearce does with his guitar(s) might be termed harmonious distortion—soothing short pieces that are great for those (un)tender moments when concentrating on a raindrop or a sleeping kitten is the best thing you can do for yourself. This platter is appropriately dedicated to the late Florian Fricke, the founder of Popul Vuh, an innovative German band that founded an area wherein psychedelic and progressive rock, ethnic strains, and ambient electronic meld/merge (some would and did call it new age)—but unlike some purveyors of dreamy/ethereal music FSA have a bit of rock & roll clangor to it. No, Instrumentals doesn’t “rock” but it has a bit of grit that adds savor to the bliss-out that transpires whilst listening. (15 tracks, 57 min.) dragcity.com Art Pepper Quartet ★★★★★ Live at Fat Tuesdays Elemental Along with the late jazz masters Frank Morgan and Phil Woods, the late Art Pepper (1925-1982) was one of the standardbearers of straight-ahead, hard-swinging,
smooth, soulful tone that at times evokes Eugene Record (Chi-Lites) and Stevie Wonder (in his old-days crooning mode) and true range. Many of the songs have a yearning, wide-open, loping soul-blues feel –not structured like blues, but rich with that late-night restless/moody feeling/ ambience. Heck, “Loser Blues” could easily be a nugget by Bobby Blue Bland or Little Milton and it’s got a spare, haunting guitar solo that even B.B. King would likely approve, while its sounds like its seeping from a haunted house. Son Little is one of those rare albums that doesn’t just draw upon the past but builds upon it, pointing toward a future. (12 tracks, 43 min.) anti.com Flying Saucer Attack ★★★★ Instrumentals 2015 Drag City Flying Saucer Attack is a “band” from Bristol, England, a duo of Dave Pearce and Rachel Brook, though the latter has left and this is the first FSA album in over a decade. In a world as nutty and chaotic as ours, we need discs like this once in a while. Consisting of 15 untitled instrumentals that stress tranquil atmosphere
undiluted bebop saxophone. In the 1980s, Pepper had something of a renaissance, releasing several excellent platters with for the most part was a working band. There’s a wealth of previously unreleased stuff that’s gradually been seeing the light of day, and Live at Fat Tuesdays in one such example. Recorded at a NYC club in April 1981, Pepper helms an ace foursome—pianist Milcho Leviev (so lyrical), bassist George Mraz (rippling), and drummer Al Foster (volatile, he was a former funk player that was with Miles as
40 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
well) on some evergreens (yes, yet another version of “What is This Thing Called Love”) and a couple originals on what must’ve been a great night. Everyone plays at a high energy level without sacrificing subtlety and while some players of his generation stopped developing after a certain point, Pepper sounds as if at least partly baptized in the River Coltrane. While Pepper sounds joyous his playing has a somewhat harrowing edge to it, almost as if he knew he didn’t have much time left and had no time for nostalgia. Anyone that thinks jazz doesn’t have the vehemence of rock & roll needs to listen to this platter. The recording quality is almost too vivid, is occasionally a wee bit harsh but worth it. Anyone with a jones for bop and classic alto (Charlie Parker, Woods, Adderley, etc.) needs this. Needs, I tell you. (5 tracks, 71 min.) elementalmusic.com Vega/Chilton/Vaughn ★★★★ Cubist Blues Light in the Attic Every now and again a platter comes down the pike that shouldn’t be yet is. Usually when rock musicians go into a studio unprepared the results are rarely memorable—but these three are not your typical rock fellows. Alan Vega is the singer with the proto-electronica duo Suicide; the late Alex Chilton was a true cult figure, the voice of one of the best power pop bands ever, Big Star, and Ben Vaughn a wry roots-rocker (who did the music for the TV show Third Rock From the Sun), a one-man NRBQ. In 1994 this trio went into a NYC studio for two late night/early morning session, resulting in Cubist Blues. Originally released in ‘96, it came out with little fanfare and sank without trace—it’s now back in a spiffy reissue package. The ingredients are Vega’s Elvis/Eddie Cochran-from-Hell singing; Vaughn’s reverb-heavy twangin’ guitar; Chilton’s understanding of Southern blues/R&B, and blistering musicianship, all mixed together with Vega’s improvised lyrics and Chilton and Vaughn’s command of primal Memphis rhythm. It’s as if Kraftwerk, Chris Isaac with 104 degree fever, and Doctor John’s band got together on a space station made up to look like New Orleans during Mardi Gras—voodoo music from both outer and inner space. Creepy, zany fun, this is. (11 tracks, 62 min.) lightintheattic.net ■
MUSIC BY A. D. AMOROSI
Boxed and Booked The Christmas gift of music in nice neat bows, boxes and published books Bob Dylan The Cutting Edge 1965–1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12 Available in six- and 18-disc sets (the latter including every single take of every song from Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde), this box is epic, crucial, gum-cracking, ‘60s-era Dylan at his cattiest. And his most electric—literally, when you consider the inclusion of the wiseassed, acoustic folkie’s then-revolutionary electric program at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. (Columbia)
Queen A Night at the Odeon This live set from 1975 presents Queen at London’s Hammersmith Odeon on the
I Alice Cooper The Studio Albums 1969-1983 At 15 CDs, this may seem like an awful lot of Alice. Yet this is prime era Cooper—his Warner Bros years when he was writing as a band member with Michael Bruce (up through Muscle of Love and hits such as “School’s Out,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” etc.) as well as his early solo horror pop escapades. Beyond the mascara, Cooper & Co. made theatrical rock with a Sondheim-ian edge. (WB/Rhino) Bruce Springsteen The Ties that Bind: The River Collection Dissecting Springsteen’s The River is like studying a butterfly with a tweezer,
carefully examining his motions in focused personal lyrics through to the broadly universal as if studying the veins in the wings. The demos are exquisite, the live versions muscular. (Columbia)
guitar-crackling, glam rocking cusp of world domination, their “Bohemian Rhapsody” still just an operatic glint in their eyes. (Hollywood) The Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well Okay, so the Dead didn’t really stop playing together after these three July 2015 50th anniversary dates in Chicago as planned; Phil Lesh just too off, leaving Weir, Hart and Billy the Kid to continue touring with John Mayer. That shouldn’t blunt the sheer joy of hearing the Core Four and Trey Anastassio doing their songs of hippie freedom and the late Jerry Garcia’s wayward psychedelic aplomb. For differing degrees of Dead lovers, there are uniquely packaged collections. (Rhino) Neil Young Bluenote Café Before Neil Young returned to fuzztone rock and protest folk (for the better and worse), he spent time, with Crazy Horse, fronting a large scale, horn-driven blues swing band that did few of his hits, instead focusing on then-new jump numbers such as “This Note’s for You,” that poked fun at the world of corporate musical compromise. [Reviewed by Tom Wilk on page 42] (Reprise)
The Velvet Underground Loaded: The 45th Anniversary Collection (Rhino) Live at the Matrix (Verve/Universal) With Lou Reed having passed onto the great beyond, his prime moving avant-rock band gets dissected and splayed out in two unique Velvet collections. Both featuring bassist Doug Yuleera Velvets (rather than its co-creator John Cale), the former reaches into the last, often-maligned VU album that involved Reed with its slick, stoic commercial (or would-be hits) stock such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Sweet Jane.” The latter finds the touring 1969 Velvets far from their dirty NYC home, at San Francisco’s Matrix, stretching out after the Summer of Love dipped into the sunset. David Laurie DARE Something In Construction label boss David Laurie’s debut book is about the birth and rise of British synth-pop (19791982) and how its progenitors David Bowie and Kraftwerk fueled a bleakly youthful plastic music revolution in their images. Nice work. (SIC Publishing) D’Angelo Live At The Jazz Café, London: The Complete Show Now out of retirement with a jazzmetal tone to his brand of soul, this is peak 1998-era D’Angelo at his smoldering best. (OKP) Lee Hazelwood The Very Special World Of Lee Hazlewood, Lee Hazlewoodism: Its Cause And Cure, Something Special After mining gold as a songwriter and vocal foil for Nancy Sinatra, Hazelwood signed to MGM Records between 19661968 and crafted a career of eerie spaghetti western ambience and Technicolor bachelor pad pop. Buy the threesome as one bundle and savor the idiosyncrasy. (Light in the Attic) Weather Report The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978-1981 Electric pianist/synthesist Joe Zawinul,
reed man Wayne Shorter and occasional bassist Jaco Pastorious made fusion jazz into the rhythm of the saints. This captures the men of Birdland at their buoyantly expressive, noodle-riffic best. Extra points for those who purchase Jaco: The Documentary, a film that not only looks at the innovative fretless bassist, but his oddly dark life and habits. (Columbia) John Coltrane A Love Supreme: The Masters The one-time Philadelphia-based saxophonist, composer and holy legend truly found his winding, spiritualized, free jazz,
freak flag-flying Zen on this ‘60s classic, examined note-by-note, live, and takeafter-take on this multi-disc collection. (Universal) Tim Berne and Steve Byram Spare Avant-garde saxophonist Tim Berne has a second equally distinct existence as an artist and photographer, and this bookish volume of abstract expressionist sketches and paintings alongside Berne’s equally free-form photographs (as well as CD of a recent concert of his Snakeoil ensemble) dovetails nicely with visual artist Byram’s grotesquely cartoonish paintings. (Sctrewgun) Miles Davis The Warner Brothers Years After his time as innovator within Post-Bop, fusion and noise funk, Davis settled into smooth elder statesmanship where he covered songs from Cyndi Lauper and Scritti Politti as well as crafted another take on Sketches of Spain with his best collaborator, Gil Evans. Sweet. (WB/Rhino) ■
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 41
MUSIC SINGER / SONGWRITER REVIEWS BY TOM WILK
Nikki Hill ★★★ Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists Deep Fryed Records “Love sometimes it just can’t see/It’s blind to the hurt on the other side where I used to be,” Nikki Hill sings on “Heavy
Hearts, Hard Fists,” the title track of her new album. It’s a gutsy, forthright description of a troubled relationship that shows her strengths as both a writer and performer. A North Carolina native, Hill mines the traditions of rhythm and blues and soul as well as classic British rock in shaping her music. On “Oh My,’ Hill delivers a full-tilt rocker with urgency of Tina Turner in her prime. Her three-piece band, anchored by her guitarist and husband Matt Hill, provides a swaggering base that evokes the spirit of the Rolling Stones on “Struttin’.” On “(Let Me Tell You ‘bout) Luv,” Hill and her band conjure up the exuberance of Rod Stewart and the Faces in the early 1970s’ prime. She’s also capable of a pleading ballad as Hill demonstrates on “Nothin’ With You.” Hill shows her interpretive skills with a creative reworking of Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away” that starts out slowly and then picks up steam for a fastpaced ending to the album. (10 songs, 36 minutes) Donnie Fritts ★★★1/2 Oh My Goodness Single Lock Records
As a session musician and songwriter, Donnie Fritts is one of the instrumental figures in developing the Muscle Shoals sound of the 1960s that put the Alabama city on the map. His songs have been recorded by Ray Charles (“We Had It All”), Dusty Springfield (“Breakfast in Bed”) and Jerry Lee Lewis (“A Damn Good Country Song”). Fritts steps back into the spotlight with Oh My Goodness, just his fourth solo album in 41 years and a CD rich in Southern soulfulness. “Errol Flynn,” a song co-written by Amanda McBroom, opens the album with a contemplation of mortality that the 73year-old Fritts ably delivers with a sense of wistfulness and regret. “If It’s Really Got to Be That Way,” which Fritts co-wrote with soul singer Arthur Alexander, finds Fritts trying to be stoic in the face of heartbreak. The autobiographical “Tuscaloosa 1962” is a raucous recounting of his days playing on the college fraternity circuit in the early 1960s. The sensuous “Memphis Women and Chicken” celebrates Southern cuisine in a way that will whet the listener’s appetite. Co-producer John Paul White, formerly of the Civil Wars, prominently features Fritts’ Wurlitzer piano on half a dozen tracks to give the album a unifying sound. Fritts’ cover of Jesse Winchester’s “Foolish Heart” sounds like a synthesis of Randy Newman and Allen Touissant, while Fritts injects a touch of spiritual fervor on “Lay It Down. Oh My Goodness stands as a highlight for Fritts in a career that spans more than a half century. (12 songs, 44 minutes) Webb Wilder ★★★1/2 Mississippi Moderne Landslide Records “I’ve been to hell and back again/Brought back some barbecue for all my friends,” Webb Wilder puckishly sings on “Rough and Tumble Guy,” an animated statement of purpose and Chuck Berry-influenced rocker on Mississippi Moderne, his latest studio album. In his distinctive Southern voice, Wilder delivers a pleasing mix of original songs and well-chosen covers that are part of his continuing exploration of American roots music. The bluesy swing of “It Ain’t Broke (Don’t Fix It),” one of five songs Wilder had a hand in writing, receives a vocal assist from the gospel harmonies of Ann and Regina McCrary. “Too Much Sugar for a Nickel,” a song
inspired by a Southern phrase his mother used to describe something too good to
be true, combines the lyricism of the Traveling Wilburys with the rhythmic driver of the Rolling Stones, Wilder has noted. “Only a Fool,” a reflective, mid-tempo ballad, was co-written with songwriting legend Dan Penn, and shows Wilder’s serious side. Wilder also pays tribute to his musical influences. “I Gotta Move,” written by Ray Davies, is an acknowledgment of the importance of the British invasion. Charlie Rich’s “Who Will the Next Fool Be?” finds Wilder delving into the jazzier repertoire of the future country music superstar. Wilder wraps up the album with “Stones in My Pathway,” an original song that is a tip of the cap to legendary bluesman Robert Johnson. (14 songs, 46 minutes) Neil Young and Bluenote Café ★★★1/2 Bluenote Café Reprise Records The 1980s were an experimental time for Neil Young with forays into electronic music (Trans), rockabilly (Everybody’s Rockin’), traditional country (Old Ways) and blues (This Note’s For You). Bluenote Café, his latest archival concert release, revisits the This Note’s For You period with a musically powerful and artistically satisfying recording taken from 11 shows on his 1987-88 concert tour. It’s a musical departure for Young as he works with a six-man horn section while serving as the 10-piece band’s sole guitarist. The horns add color and punch to the music, elevating the energy level of “Life in the City” and reinforcing the lyrical sentiment of “I’m Goin’,” one of seven new songs on the double CD, with a swinging arrangement
42 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
Young serves up a musical smorgasbord on this collection. “This Note’s For You” is a searing rant against the commercial cooptation of popular music, inspired by Michael Jackson’s endorsement of Pepsi and remains relevant today. To drive home the point, Young introduces “Twilight” by noting: “This next song is brought to you by nobody.” Young softens the mood on the jazz-styled “One Thing,” sounding like a crooner in a nightclub and engages in some call-andresponse vocals on the bluesy “Ain’t It the Truth.” Young dips into his back catalogue for “Hello Lonely Woman,” a rocking blues that he first recorded in 1965, and adds horns to “On the Way Home,” giving the Buffalo Springfield pop song a soulful overhaul. He also offers a preview of the harrowing “Crime in the City,” a highlight of his 1989 album Freedom. While some of the songs go on a bit long (“Don’t Take Your Love Away From Me”), Young and his band also drive each other to new heights (“Tonight’s The Night”). (21 songs, 148 minutes) Sarah Pierce ★★★ Barbed Wire Little Bear Records Texas musician Sarah Pierce didn’t have to look far to find songwriting material for Barbed Wire, her latest studio album. “Small Town,” the CD’s first song, grew out of her move to the Lone Star State and celebrates the virtues of living outside the big city “where people take pride in who they are.” The discovery on her property of homemade barbed wire from the 1870s served as the catalyst for the album’s title track, a song about the resilience of women in her family. “Like my grandma, I’ve got the constitution of a bramble rose,” she sings. As a writer, Pierce creates songs from common material that others might overlook. She wrote “Saddle Up” based on a pair of longtime boots that she wore, employing them as a symbol for enjoying the good times and persevering through the bad ones. Pierce recalls Nanci Griffith and Kelly Willis on the straightforward vocal style on the spirited “Mackerel Sky” and the plaintive ballad “I’m Sorry,” which she sang and co-write with Reckless Kelly lead singer Willy Braun. 13 songs, 50 minutes ■
MUSIC JAZZ LIBRARY BY BOB PERKINS
AROUND THE HOLIDAY SEASON, it would not be wise for a turkey to help a farmer find his lost hatchet. Similarly, it would not be wise for a recording artist not to hold record companies accountable for royalties from his or her record sales. In the early years of the recording industry, there were many tales of artists who were shortchanged by
recording companies—not only because they didn’t question their reported record sales, but because they either allowed the companies to pay them a lump sum for the recording date, or the artists were in need of immediate money and asked for up-front payments. Each transaction usually ended in favor of the record companies, with few or no royalties for the artists. This practice was part of the other trials and tribulations which followed Gloria Lynne during a portion of her career. She enjoyed some very good years of fan acknowledgement, especially in the early and mid-1960s, Bob Perkins is a writer and host of an all-jazz radio program that airs on WRTI-FM 90.1, Mon-Thurs. 6–9 & Sun., 9–1..
but total fame, over the long haul, eluded her. Lynne was born Gloria Wilson, November 23, 1931, in New York City. In 1946, at age 15, she upped her age and won a talent contest at the famed Apollo Theater’s “Amateur Night.” She went on to sing with a couple of girl R&B groups, but preferred working with jazz combos. In 1958 she signed a contract with the Everest label, and good things began to happen a few years later with her recordings of “June Night, “Love I’ve Found You,” and what was to become her signature song, “I Wish You Love.” She became a Philly favorite, due in great part to WHAT-FM, the local all-jazz station. The popular radio hosts at that time—Sid Mark, Joel Dorn and others—laid into Lynne’s recordings, and she made numerous appearances at the top jazz clubs in the city. By late 1969, she shared stages with Quincy Jones, Billy Eckstine, Ray Charles and a host of other legendary performers, appeared on the Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson shows— and became a favorite of several members of the Kennedy family. But, as Lynne explains in her memoir, I Wish You Love, bad recording company agreements, coupled with bad choices in men, played a major role in stunting her further growth in the business. Her career would falter, then regain its footing following her glory years, but it never found the solid footing associated with her earlier years. The lady, however, still maintained a following, which was almost cult-like. I recall emceeing a Gloria Lynne performance at a supper club in Philly in the mid1980s, at which some 200 were present. I saw faces there I had not seen in years—doctors, lawyers, politicians, and just plain folks. Although Lynne did not enjoy international or even wide domestic recognition, she maintained that coterie of die-hard fans, in the tradition of singers Johnny Hartman and Jimmy Scott, who were also Philly favorites. Matter of fact, although Lynne was not a local product, the Philadelphia City Council in 1991, proclaimed a “Gloria Lynne Day.” In 1981, famed jazz critic Leonard Feather wrote in The New York Times, that if greatness and fame have eluded Gloria Lynne, “...it can not be for want of talent.” In her memoir, her story is told in bittersweet detail, and she thanks those who supported and encouraged her over the years. When she mentions the DJs, who played her music and interviewed her, I’m flattered and humbled, because she included a guy named Bob Perkins. One of Lynne’s finest CDs is titled Gloria, Mary and Strings (Mary is her late, brilliant arranger, Mary Paich). Gloria Lynne passed away October 15, 2013, at age 83. ■
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 43
foodie feature BY A. D. AMOROSI
BUCKMINSTER’S The Point of Point Breeze THE POINT BREEZE AREA of Philadelphia may have started its reign to claim fame at the beginning of the 21st century with its politics and land grabbing. Since that time, however, Point Breeze’s notoriety has shifted onto its restaurants: literal hot spots such as American Sardine Bar, Tasty Toast, Madira Bar & Grill, Circles Contemporary Asian and South Philadelphia Tap Room; casual eateries all. For that last reason alone, the newly opened Buckminster’s fits in snuggly with its subtly space-age, bachelor pad indoor paint job and schematic drawings— owner Michael Pasquarello named the restaurant after geodesic dome creator and architect Buckminster Fuller—and its cool, South Phillythemed cocktail program from Prohibition Taproom’s Rich Maiale (try the Passyunk Zeke of bourbon with orange and Anise liqueurs). Then there’s one-time Fitler Dining Room’s Chef Rob Marzinsky’s menu. As Point Breeze’s newest executive chef, Marzinsky fills Buckminster’s with locally sourced, inventive renditions of comfort food classics like Bintje Potato Pierogi, Stuffed Cabbage with gold rice, pepper-pot sauce and beef from Pasquarello’s Fishtown spot, Kensington Quarters, and a Bologna and Cheese open-faced sandwich served on spelt bread with Ely Farm cheese, Lebanon bologna, sunny egg and cranberry mostarda. I spoke with Pasquarello and Marzinsky about just what they were bucking when it came to Buckminster’s. Tell me about the decision to open in Point Breeze, a still-up-andcoming restaurant neighborhood. Pasquarello: We like being a part of a community were new residents are settling in alongside those that have been there for a long time. We see that people in the neighborhood really support their local businesses. Our first spot, Cafe Lift, was built around that sort of support. Maiale: It’s a beautiful, culturally-diverse neighborhood in the midst of transformation and transition. I live down the street from Buckminster’s and have met lots of great folks.
Photo ©Reese Amorosi 2015
Executive Chef Rob Marzinsky.
How did the concept and menu of Buckminster’s originate? Pasquarello I had decided on the location. I wanted to let the concept shape up organically. First, I thought I’d like to open a place like Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, a small, well-designed room that serves really good food in a casual way. The menu really only started to take shape after meeting Rob. When we connected, we started to talk about food and he brought up some of the neo-bistro style places that were popping up in Europe, and I really dug it. Maiale: We drew most of our inspiration from the spirit behind this new “bistronomy” movement that you can find in London, Copenhagen, and most notably Paris, rather than any one restaurant. If I had to pick one, though, it would be Le Chateaubriand in Paris. The chef, Iñaki Aizpitarte, has been making incredible food in a casual, bustling bistro setting before it was even a “thing.” Beyond that, I try and focus on what’s available from the farms and how to make things taste good. ■ Buckminster’s, 1200 S 21st St, Philadelphia 267-928-3440 buckminstersphl.com
44 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
d its reign tics and ety has Sardine n and eason subtly ngs— c dome Phillyiale (try . Then enu. As ter’s with ke Bintje ce and nd a ad with mostarda. ey were
w resilong heir local of sup-
the midst uckmin-
te? the conace like rves really e shape ut food re pop-
hind this penhagen, to pick Iñaki g bistro us on good. ■
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 45
food BY ROBERT GORDON
CHARLIE WAS A SINNER CHARLIE MAY HAVE BEEN a sinner. But he was not without virtue. Under Executive Chef Rob Sidor, Charlie Was a Sinner brings substance, cheek, and another stellar menu to Philly’s burgeoning vegan scene. As for the restaurant’s inscrutable name, owner Nicole Marquis suggests thinking of it as the first line in an Elmore Leonardtype mystery that he might have penned.
smoked-to-perfection cauliflower. Celery leaves give a bite and pine nuts add to the texture. The common potato is wafered into exquisite Potato “Carpaccio” that turns vibrant with the addition of limetinged paprika aioli. The Carpaccio is topped with crispy potato, fresno chili, black olive, and red onion. The menu even harbors a pinch of molecular gas-
The restaurant’s interior is chic. Canno Design honchoed the eatery’s redesign. The décor, with its library shelves, chandeliers and candles, is subtle and understated. It’s the kind of place that would fit comfortably into LA or Manhattan. Muted colors bathe the walls. Classic movie clips play ghostlike within gossamer curtains draping a 23-foot wall fronted by cushy banquettes. Antique furniture and library lamps breathe an air of conviviality into the interior. In the bar, rear-illuminated étagères are crammed with bottles that Charlie mixologists use to experiment with the ardor of alcohol alchemists. They concoct some of the city’s finer specialty cocktails like Reap What We Sow, which uses Sailor Jerry rum to power a conglomeration of butternut squash, apple, ginger, lemon and cinnamon that’s perfumed subtly with nutmeg—a drink that has capped off a few of our Center City late nights. Subtlety rules. Just as the drink menu feeds off complex combinations, the food menu favors smart spicing and bright alliances. Charlie offers numerous little vegetable-centric dishes served invitingly. The delight is in the details. Golden raisin vinaigrette brings out the sweetness in
tronomy. Tofu & Bean Sausage is wrapped in foam. Although it’s more a fire-for-effect contemporary measure, the accompanying parsnip mash is not. The parsnip is perfectly cooked to perfection. It’s the yin to the yang of the faux-sausage. The spring garlic pesto that pools around the plate supplies a colorful finishing touch to an excellent recipe. Potato Gnocchi Butternut Squash Barigoule demonstrates how completely the vegan kitchen replicates butter, and consequently does not peg your cholesterol level. Tasty sage-intensive gremolata sauces the gnocchi, which is studded with delicate beech mushrooms. Indeed, Charlie expands the options of the city’s growing vegan cravings. But Charlie also improves the heated, hip 13th Street scene by giving a much needed facelift to its predecessor, the Full Moon Saloon burlesque club. Charlie’s has become a personal favorite as a late night go-to spot for fun drinks and midnight munching. The bottom line is, Charlie Was a Sinner is a winner. ■
46 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
Charlie Was a Sinner, 131 S 13TH St, Philadelphia 267-758-5372 charliewasasinner.com
S WA N
HOTEL Modern Cuisine h Classic Comfort Corner of Swan & Main Lambertville, NJ 609-397-3552
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 47
about life BY JAMES P. DELPINO, MSS,MLSP,LCSW,BCD
IS HONESTY ALWAYS THE BEST POLICY? MANY PEOPLE WOULD SAY that honesty is important in all situations. For those with religious leanings, not being honest is considered a sin. But when does honesty become a problem? Is it okay to be honest to the point of being insensitive or even injuring the feelings of another? Is it better to spare the feelings of another person with a small lie? Why lie? Empathy or sympathy can trump the truth—for example, when someone is sick and friends say they look good. While this may not be true in any sense, a lie like this is meant to be encouraging. But is honesty the best policy here? This might be a time when a well-intentioned falsehood does more good than a potentially damaging truth. Another common reason to lie is to make oneself look good to others, which involves a selfish motivation to manipulate the perceptions of others. Without compassion as a redeeming feature, this kind of lie may be the manifestation of low-esteem or shame. A person may lie to hurt the feelings of someone else—a deliberate lie in the service of revenge, for example, in a world of breakups and divorce.
48 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
Sometimes a lie is meant to protect the feelings of another, yet even a well-meaning lie can create hurt and difficulties further down the line. A lie that’s meant to be protective can actually enable poor choices and behaviors. In the area of addiction, it’s common for the addict to lie to him or herself as well as to family and friends. The dynamics of friends or family in denial serves the purpose of not seeing something too hurtful to confront. The most common lie is the one where a person seeks to avoid getting into trouble or confrontation. Fear of retribution is the underlying motive in these circumstances. And then there are those who lie just for mischief or the thrill of it. A lack of honesty for any reason is a lie. Some lies may be more well-intentioned than others, but what all lies have in common is a wish to control the thoughts, feelings or behaviors of someone else. In an unpredictable world, attempts to control are more common in everyday life than most people would think. It’s possible to evaluate the lack of honesty by the motives which underlie it, just as it’s possible to assess the value of a lie by what good or harm it accomplishes. One of the most difficult aspects of being truthful is that negative consequences may ensue. Truth can push away those who are in denial. Honesty can make a person appear diminished in the eyes of others. Honesty can also be a valuable humbling experience for people who are too full of themselves. It can be the first step in moving from addiction to recovery. It is, in general, much more difficult to be truthful than to lie. However, being truthful is generally an admired character trait. When in doubt it’s better to be considered honest than to be considered a liar. There are ways to be better at being honest and they’re well worth cultivating for the betterment of the self and those around him. Compassion and sensitivity to someone’s feelings is a higher level of honesty than being blunt. Conveying the truth too bluntly can result in a person defending, minimizing or denying. Finding ways to create a context for truth may help the benefits of being honest go further and deeper. Coming from a place of love is always the best policy. Since 80 to 90 percent of communication is non-verbal, a person will often sense that the truth being told is not to manipulate, but to elevate. The most helpful truths occur when the timing and circumstances align for the best possible results. Revealing a truth at a time when a person is too compromised—drunk, depressed, angry—may do more harm than good. It’s incumbent upon the honest person to find the best circumstances, perhaps in private rather than in public. These are ways of improving on honesty. Most people are thankful when they’re told the truth, even if it involves swallowing a bitter pill—it sets people free from illusions, distortions and delusions. Those who do not want honesty will often avoid the teller of truth. Those who seek denial will often change the subject when the truth becomes uncomfortable. Being kind, loving, compassionate and waiting for the right timing and circumstances make honesty an even more admirable character trait. ■ Jim Delpino is a psychotherapist in private practice for over 33 years. firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (215) 364-0139.
food BY ROBERT GORDON
STOCKTON INN I’VE BEEN REVIEWING THE Stockton Inn for the past three decades. Menus, kitchen staffs, concepts—all have undergone a series of reinventions, recalibrations, and re-envisionings, and none have endured. Until now. Enter Alan Heckman, a CIAtrained professional—young yet savvy and seasoned. Chef Alan will be headlining at the prestigious James Beard House in NYC on January 28, 2016. The Chef is breathing much needed spark into Stockton Inn’s dining program. This summer he inaugurated a well-received 5-course $79 prix fixe “Lobster Extravaganza.” Crackling with rare combinations like Chilled and Charred Lobster Mole with pickled avocado and Lobster Summer Bean Cassoulet with Orange Glazed Pork Belly, the special cobbled four stand-alone entrées into one offering. Alan’s philosophy revolves around farm-to-table freshness. The creamed fresh corn, arugula, pineapple and mango relish supercharges Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops with full-on flavor. Artichoke Ravioli, stewed tomato, fava bean, and olive tapenade bring out the luxurious delicacy of Pan-Seared Striped Bass. For carnivores, there’s a Char Grilled
Raritan Canal. Then as canals gave way to the Iron Horse in the Civil War era, Robert Stockton brought the railroad through the town, which changed its name in his honor. Last century, muralists decorated the walls and, later, Kurt Weise, illustrator of the Bambi books, as well as for Zane Grey and Rudyard Kipling, embellished the originals. But Stockton Inn’s highest profile came when it served as the ad hoc headquarters for the Lindberg kidnapping case, which, up until the OJ spectacle, was the “Trial of the Century.” The cachet it gained made it the Mecca for Broadway and show-biz luminaries like Helen Hayes, Moss Hart, Clark Gable, and Ray Bolger, who introduced “There’s a Small Hotel (With a Wishing Well)”—a standard that was penned by Rodgers and Hart to honor the Stockton Inn. So renowned was the Inn that even NYC’s famed Algonquin Table with Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Damon Runyon, and F. Scott Fitzgerald had their own table there. ■ Stockton Inn, One South Main Street, Stockton, NJ 609-397-1250 stocktoninn.com
8-ounce Prime Filet of Beef with an accompaniment of caramelized shallot and chive whipped potato, haricot verts in creamed demi sauce. Current hits on the seasonally changing menu include Bacon-Wrapped Rabbit Loin, hearty Ricotta Cavatelli with house-made Veal Sausage, and scrumptious Chateaubriand for Two. Few establishments can match the Inn’s nonpareil colonial splendor. This month, Chef Heckman is offering “Holiday Celebrations” tasting menus on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Check the Inn’s website under “Menus” for details. That’s a coup not only for Alan but also for the Stockton Inn—a coup that I trust will help keep Stockton Inn viable in the regional scene for decades to come. In a world-class historical region, the Stockton Inn boasts the Bucks river region’s most intriguing and extensive patrimony. A brief skim of the centuries reveals that, in the era of the Revolutionary War, Washington used ferries from Howell’s Ferry for his Christmas night crossing of the Delaware. Howell was the original name of Stockton. During the nation’s fevered canal-fueled continental expansion, the current Stockton Inn, at the time known as The Farmer’s Bar, prospered as a stop on the Delaware and W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 49
The Los Angeles Times SUNDAY CROSSWORD PUZZLE
MORNING ADDITION By Matt McKinley Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
ACROSS 1 7 11 15 19 20 21 23 25 26 27 29 31 32 33 36 39 42 45 47 51 52 55 56 57 61 62 63 64 66 71 73 74 75 76 83 84 86 87 88 91 92 93 96 98 99
Opinionated assortment Biblical shepherd Polaris Rangers, e.g., briefly Asian cookware Start a bulleted list, perhaps Forecast Painful, in a way Harsh criticism of an old Pontiac? Superman or Spider-Man Unavoidable end Unprincipled operator? “__, Iʼm flying in my taxi”: Harry Chapin lyric Table salt, in chem class Pool stroke Therapistsʼ org. Corporate rule Something for a fan to support Fan appreciation event Personal: Pref. Pleads not guilty Soviet cooperative Loud salutes Type of cell or cent “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” constable Salesperson who doesnʼt take your offer seriously? [Uh-oh!] Annual August golf tournaments, familiarly Classic theaters Aiming devices Mexican dish you were warned not to eat? Current king of Spain __ VI Silents star Negri Time to beware Truth stretcher “Missionary squad loses big in softball game”? Rink legend Tee sizes: Abbr. Done like Donne Rancor If itʼs orange, itʼs really black Physics unit Strengthen Race on the water Kidney-related Match in size Doo-wop band instruments
102 104 107 112 116 117 119 120 121 122 123 124 125
After-hours Hoods Memoirs of a penitent bookie? WWII bond designation Carefree Really large items thrown overboard? Life partners Snack in a stack Nails the test Doesnʼt have to ask about Egg holder Sign of boredom Techniques involving falsetto
DOWN 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 22 24 28 30 33 34 35 37 38 40 41 43 44 46 48 49 50
Texas city nickname About Some govt. lawyers “The Flying Dutchman” soprano Conclude with One awaiting a cancellation Six-pack set Two-balled weapon European cheese town Bar fruit Hook on Warbled Winery fixtures Course-plotting “Star Trek” crewman Simulated military exercise Chiwere speakers Bust measurements? Not a good thing to make Marine myth “Goodness!” Traitor Woman in a “Paint Your Wagon” song Simple rhyme scheme Veal __ Largest of the Near Islands Purim month Like most zoo animals La., once Lincoln-to-Des Moines dir. Give up Advantage to get Like talent, in a Geoff Colvin best-seller Liquid courses Not working Beats
53 Vanilla-flavored, as wine 54 Machine displaying fruit symbols 58 Go out with 59 CBS drama since 2000 60 Spanish “that” 61 Throws a fit 64 Iraqʼs __ City 65 Monty Python co-founder 66 First name in superhero lore 67 W, vis-à-vis E 68 Don Knotts denial 69 Too 70 Open __ night 71 Disaster 72 Where the Shannon flows 76 Fishing, perhaps 77 Interstellar dist. 78 Berlin article 79 Canine attraction 80 Annoy 81 Decorative sewing case 82 Cabinet part: Abbr. 84 Phrase on a fortunetellerʼs business card 85 Office conf. 89 Son of Agamemnon 90 Travelersʼ references 92 Rogers Centre player 94 Least likely to bite 95 Downed
50 ■ I C O N ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V
97 99 100 101 103 105 106 108
“Sure, I get it” Magic center? Be gaga over Marked for deletion Relish Artist El __ Located Classic showdown time
109 Went off the deep end 110 Commercial prefix with “cell” 111 Fish-eating duck 113 Forum infinitive 114 Zip (through) 115 First responders, for short 118 __ mot
Answer to November’s puzzle, REPOSSESSED
Agenda CALL FOR ENTRIES Philadelphia Sketch Club Annual Domenic DiStefano Memorial Works on Paper Juried Exhibition. Entry Deadline: Sunday, December 13, 2015 at Midnight Exhibition Dates: January 2 - 24, 2016 Works Eligible: Any 2-dimensional works on paper utilizing watercolor, oil, gouache, casein, acrylics, inks, prints, graphite, etching, charcoal, pastel, collage, pencil, mixed media, and others. Submissions: Up to 10 works. Maximum 2 works accepted. Full prospectus: http://sketchclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Works-on-Paper-Prospectus-2016-v1.pdf Entry on-line: http://sketchclub.org/psc-official-online-submission-site Reception: Sunday, January 10, 2016 2-4 PM. Prizes will be handed out at 3 PM.
ART EXHIBITS THRU 12/13 Works in Wood at New Hope Arts honors woodworking traditions of Bucks County - 15th Exhibition. Opening Reception & Awards, 11/14, 6-8 pm. 2 Stockton Ave., New Hope, PA. 215-8629606. newhopearts.org THRU 12/20 Talk with a potter, glass blower, wood artist or jeweler about the perfect personal gift. 11–6 Daily. Red Tulip Gallery, 19C West Bridge St., New Hope, PA. 267-454-0496. RedTulipCrafts.com THRU 12/23 Holiday Gift Gallery. Reception 12/2, 68PM. Holiday happy hour, 12/10 & 12/17, 5-7. The Baum School of Art, 510 W. Linden St., Allentown. 610-433-0032. Baumschool.org THRU 12/31 Howard Pyle Murals. Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, Delaware. 302-571-9590. delart.org THRU 1/3 Mia Rosenthal: Paper Lens. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Historic Landmark Building, 118 N. Broad St., Philadelphia. 215-972-7600. pafa.org THRU 1/3 Steve Tobin, Cocoon Awakenings. Allentown Art Museum, 31 N. 5th St., Allentown, PA. AllentownArtMuseum.org THRU 1/3 John Petach: Tiller, New Paintings. The Quiet Life Gallery, 17 So. Main St., Lambertville, NJ. 609-397-0880. Quietlifegallery.com THRU 1/9 Brick + Mortar Gallery presents Good
Co. Annual Holiday Group Show. Opening Reception 11/21,6-9PM. 8 Centre Square, Easton, PA. BrickandMortarGallery.com THRU 1/9 The Holiday Show. Bethlehem House Contemporary Art Gallery specializes in emerging and established regional artists, and provides original art for a range of budgets. Closing Event 1/9, 6-9 PM. 459 Main St., Bethlehem, PA. 610419-6262. View and purchase art online at BethlehemHouseGallery.com THRU 1/10 Helen Farr Sloan. Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, Delaware. 302-571-9590. delart.org THRU 2/7 Paul Grand: Beyond the Surface. Michener Art Museum, 138 S. Pine St., Doylestown. 215-340-9800. michenermuseum.org THRU 4/3 Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis. Academy of the Fine Arts, Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building, 128 N. Broad St., Philadelphia. 215-972-7600. pafa.org 12/3-12/17 Allentown Art Museum, Thursdays, open late and free entry 4-8 PM. 31 N. 5th St., Allentown, PA. AllentownArtMuseum.org 12/5-1/2 Michelle Neifert: Catalyst. Artist recep. 12/5, 5pm-8pm. Artist talk 12/13, 5pm.. Influenced by Color Field Painting and Abstract Expressionism. Bank Street Gallery, 7 N. Bank St., Easton, PA. 917583-2731 12/5-1/31 Holiday Open House, 12/5. Featuring winter landscape and small works. 47 W. State St., Doylestown. 215-348-1728 PatriciaHuttonGalleries.com 12/4 First Fridays celebrate the hundreds of artists, dozens of galleries and artist studios each month. Explore Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, PA, 5-9PM, rain or shine. Facebook.com/FirstFridaysArtwalk 12/10 Sculptor Karel Mikolas Talk, 7-9 PM. Bethlehem House Contemporary Art Gallery, 459 Main St., Bethlehem, PA. 610-419-6262. View and purchase art online at BethlehemHouseGallery.com 12/17 Allentown Art Museum features jewelry artist, Ann Lalik, demo, free 5-8 PM. 31 N. 5th St., Allentown, PA. AllentownArtMuseum.org
12/1-12/23 Holiday Gift Gallery, featuring fine arts and crafts by local and regional artists. Reception 12/2, 6-8. Holiday happy hour, 12/10 & 12/17, 5-7. The Baum School of Art, 510 W. Linden St., Allentown. 610433-0032. Baumschool.org
FIRST FRIDAY ART WALK 12/4 First Friday of every month, celebrate Lambertville, NJ and New Hope’s hundreds of artists, dozens of galleries and studios. 5-9PM, rain or shine. Facebook.com/LambertvilleNew HopeFirst Fridays
THEATER 12/2-12/13 Merry Christmas George Bailey. Act 1 Performing Arts, DeSales University. Main Stage, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley. 610-282-3192. Desales.edu/act1 12/3-12/6 Carlo Goldoni’s Comic Masterpiece, Servant of 2 Masters. Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. 484-664-3333. Muhlenberg.edu/theatre&dance 12/14 Sancho: An Act of Remembrance. 8pm, Williams Center for the Arts, Lafayette College, 317 Hamilton St., Easton. 610330-5009. Williamscenter.lafayette.edu
DINNER & MUSIC Thursday nights, Community Stage with John Beacher, 8-midnight. Karla’s, 5 W. Mechanic St., New Hope. 215-862-2612. Karlasnewhope. Thurs.-Sat., Dinner and show at SteelStacks, Bethlehem. 5-10, table service and valet parking. artsquest.org
CONCERTS 12/8 A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, 7:30 PM. Arts at St. John’s, St. John’s Lutheran Church, 37 So. Fifth St., Allentown, PA. 610-435-1641. Suggested donation $10. Stjohnsallentown.org 12/12 The Bach Choir of Bethlehem Christmas Concerts. Christmas Oratorio, Parts 1, 2 & 3, at 8:00 PM. First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, 3231 Tilghman St., Allentown, PA. Tickets at Bach.org.
12/13 The Bach Choir of Bethlehem Christmas Concerts. Christmas Oratorio, Parts 1, 2 & 3, at 4:00 PM. First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center St., Bethlehem, PA. Tickets at Bach.org. 12/18 Vox Philia, David McConnell, director. 7:30 PM. Arts at St. John’s, St. John’s Lutheran Church, 37 So. Fifth St., Allentown, PA. 610-435-1641. Stjohnsallentown.org 12/19 Camerata Singers presents Songs for a Winter’s Evening, featuring Ola Gjeilo’s Dark Night of the Soul. The performance is a celebration of the season. 7:30PM, First Presbyterian Church, 3231 W. Tilghman St., Allentown, PA. 610-434-7811. Pacameratasingers.org 12/20 Sing-Along-Messiah, 7PM. Cathedral Arts, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, 321 Wyandotte St., Bethlehem, PA. 610865-0727. Nativitycathedral.org 12/25 Organ Noëls with StephenWilliams, 3:00 PM. Cathedral Arts, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, 321 Wyandotte St., Bethlehem, PA. 610-865-0727. Nativitycathedral.org 12/27 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, 5:00 PM. Cathedral Arts, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, 321 Wyandotte St., Bethlehem, PA. 610-865-0727. Nativitycathedral.org 1/9 British Regiments: Band of the Royal Marines and the Pipes, Drums & Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards. 7:30 PM, State Theatre, 453 Northampton St., Easton, PA. 610-252-3132, 1-800-999STATE. Statetheatre.org
MUSIKFEST CAFÉ 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem 610-332-1300. Artsquest.org 12/6 12/10 12/12 12/31
Jon Cleary & John Scofield Echosmith Scythian The Red Elvises New Year’s Eve Spectacular 12/2 Craig Thatcher Band presents The Music of Cream 12/8 Boogie Wonder Band 12/16 Comedian Ben Bailey
Evans. Evans is a 2014 Dodge Festival poet and the author of the poetry collection “Overtipping the Ferryman” and a novella, “The Noise of Wings”. 6PM. Free. 46 N. Union St., Lambertville, NJ. 609-397-1145. Theatre 12/14 Sancho: An Act of Remembrance. 8pm, Williams Center for the Arts, Lafayette College, 317 Hamilton St., Easton, PA. 610-330-5009. Williamscenter.lafayette.edu
EVENTS THRU 12/14 Red Tulip food drive supporting Fisherman’s Mark. Drop off a non-perishable food or personal care item and receive 10% coupon good through the end of the year. 19C W. Bridge St., New Hope. 267-454-0496. RedTulipCrafts.com THRU 12/26 Celebrate the holidays in Frenchtown, NJ. Raffle, special offers and menus, tree lighting including caroling by the Delaware Valley High School Choir, and Santa’s visit. Frenchtownnj.com. THRU 12/29 Tax-Free Tuesdays. Red Tulip will pay your sales tax on all purchases. Excludes special orders and sale items. 19C West Bridge St., New Hope, PA. 267-4540496. RedTulipCrafts.com THRU 1/3 Victorian Holiday Village & Santa’s workshop with special visits from Santa, Candle Light Night, Clinton Menorah Lighting and Concert. ClintonGuild.com. 12/5-12/31 Lynda Bahr Trunk Show, 11-6, Sun.Thurs., 11-9, Fri. & Sat. Earrings, pendants, bracelets, and rings, including wedding sets. Heart of the Home, 28 S. Main St., New Hope, PA. 215-862-1880. Heartofthehome.com 12/5-1/3 Rebecca Overmann Trunk Show, 11-6, Sun.-Thurs., 11-9, Fri. & Sat. Collection includes earrings, pendants, bracelets, and rings. Heart of the Home, 28 S. Main St., New Hope, PA. 215-862-1880. Heartofthehome.com 12/11-12/13 Open House, Antiques at 200 East, 200 E. Broad St., Quakertown, PA, 215-5364547. East Broad Antiques, 141 E. Broad St., Quakertown, PA, 215-536-4408. 200Eastbroadantiques.com
12/12 Panoply Books Reading Series: Poet, teacher and singer/songwriter R.G.
W W W . F A C E B O O K . C O M / I C O N D V ■ W W W . I C O N D V . C O M ■ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 ■ I C O N ■ 51