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Contents 26

JANUARY ~ 2012

INTERVIEWS Zoe Strauss I 26 The journey from her decade-long public space project showing photographs of the beaten but not broken below the bustle of I-95 in South Philadelphia to her first major museum exhibition at PMA.


Warren Muller I 28 His mesmerizing and whimsical chandeliers give “everything but the kitchen sink” new meaning.

Cinematters: We Need to Talk About Kevin I 18

For Your Consideration I 30 The Oscars need an ideal ballot, filled with films and performances that truly packed a wallop. Herewith is that ballot, primed and ready for Academy consideration



Eugene Robinson I 5 Charles Krauthammer I 5 Lexicrockery I 49

ART Alliteration of the Month I 6 Passenger I 7 PAFA: Refreshed and Reloaded I 8 Idaherma Williams I 10

Keresman on Film: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo I 20

Ben Allison

Bad Movie: Another Earth I 22

Noah Preminger

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy We Bought a Zoo

Director of Melancholia, Lars von Trier.




Ten Wine Choices of 2011 I 36 Gemelli on Main I 37 Sette Luna I 38

Sonny Rollins Marcin Wasilewski Jake Saslow Jazz Library I 54 Arthur Prysock

ETCETERA L.A. Times Sunday Crossword I 56

DAVE BARRY Mr. Fixit Strikes Again I 40


Harper’s INDEX I 55 Harper’s FINDINGS I 57

The Lavender Dress I 42




For Women Only I 45

MUSIC Classical Notebook I 46 Violin Singer / Songwriter I 48 John Doe Neil Diamond Craig Bickhardt

Stick Fly I 12 Regional Theater I 14

The Who

The Guard Moneyball The Ides of March Drive

Miguel Zenon


Good Lovelies

Reel News I 16

Gilad Hekselman Giacomo Gates

Film Roundup I 24 War Horse



Joe Lovano/Us Five Ambrose Akinmusire



Nick’s Picks I 52

Keresman on Disc I 50 Houston Person Julius Hemphill The Habit The Jayhawks Trio 3 + Geri Allen Lukas Ligeti

ON THE COVER: Marsden Hartley, Flower Abstraction, 1914. Oil on canvas. The Vivian O. and Meyer P. Potamkin Collection, Bequest of Vivian O. Potamkin. Courtesy of PAFA. Page 8.


opinion The GOP’s slip is showing

The GOP’s payroll tax debacle



FINALLY. AFTER A YEAR of artful camouflage and concealment, Republicans let us glimpse the rift between establishment pragmatists and Tea Party ideologues. There may be hope for the republic after all. Forty Republican senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), joined Democrats in voting for compromise legislation providing a two-month extension of unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut. The bill passed 89 to 10, the kind of margin usually reserved for ceremonial resolutions in favor of motherhood. Senators clearly were confident that House approval would quickly follow. But it didn’t, because Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) couldn’t get his Tea Party freshmen to go along. The result was a kind of intramural sniping among Republicans that we haven’t seen in years. “It angers me that House Republicans would rather continue playing politics than find solutions,” said Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts. The stalemate “is harming the Republican Party,” said Sen. John McCain of Arizona. “Are Republicans getting killed now in public opinion? There’s no question,” said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who urged House Republicans to just “get it over with.” But Boehner hung tough, not out of principle but because he had no palatable choice. He didn’t dare bring the Senate bill to the floor for a vote, fearing that non-Tea Party members of the GOP caucus might defect. So he did nothing for four long days—and let the Republican Party be portrayed as so out-to-lunch that it would blithely raise taxes on 160 million Americans. The week before Christmas. As we roll into an election year. The thing is, this portrayal is quite accurate, at least as it pertains to the Tea Party faction. More sensible Republicans have been so eager to take advantage of the Tea Party’s energy and emotion that they have essentially allowed the inmates to run the asylum. You will recall that it was the GOP, led by the Tea Party types, that threatened to send the Treasury into default last summer rather than approve a routine and necessary increase in the debt ceiling. In the current imbroglio, nothing resembling a principle was involved. Boehner said that House Republicans wanted to extend the payroll tax cut for an entire year,

NOW THAT CONGRESS HAS reached agreement on what must be one of the worst pieces of legislation in years—the temporary payroll tax holiday extension—let’s survey the damage. To begin with, what even minimally rational government enacts payroll tax relief for just two months? As a matter of practicality alone, it makes no sense. The National Payroll Reporting Consortium, representing those who process paychecks, said of the twomonth extension passed by the Senate just days before the new year: “There is insufficient lead time to accommodate the proposal,” because “many payroll systems are not likely to be able to make such a substantial programming change before January or even February,” thereby creating “substantial problems, confusion and costs.” The final compromise appears to tweak this a bit to make it less onerous for small business. But what were they thinking in the first place? What business operates two months at a time? The minimal time horizon for business is the quarter—three months. What genius came up with two? U.S. businesses would have to budget for twothirds of a one-quarter tax-holiday extension. As if this government has not already heaped enough regulatory impediments and mindless uncertainties upon business. But making economic sense is not the point. The tax-holiday extension—presumably to be negotiated next year into a 12-month extension—is the perfect campaign ploy: an election-year bribe that has the additional virtue of seizing the tax issue for the Democrats. When George McGovern campaigned on giving every household $1,000, he was laughed out of town as a shameless panderer. President Obama is doing exactly the same—a one-year tax holiday that hands back about $1,000 per middle-class family— but with a little more subtlety. Obama is also selling it as a job creator. This takes audacity. Even a one-year extension isn’t a tax cut; it’s a tax holiday. A two-month extension is nothing more than a long tax weekend. What employer is going to alter his hiring decisions—whose effects last years—in anticipation of a one-year tax holiday, let alone two months? This is a $121 billion annual drain on the Treasury that makes a mockery of the Democrats’ reverence for the Social Security trust fund and its inviolability. Obama’s OMB










rather than just two months. But even if you accept his claim at face value, it ignores the fact that the two-month deal was approved by the Senate for one reason only: to allow time for negotiation of a one-year extension. In other words, the measure that House Republicans were so reluctant to pass, or even vote on, was crafted as a step toward the specific outcome that House Republicans claimed was their goal. Boehner’s calls for compromise were absurd. The Senate bill was itself a bipartisan compromise, reached after tough bargaining and many concessions. Democrats abandoned their proposal for an income tax surcharge on those earning more than $1 million a year. President Obama accepted a rider forcing him to make a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project before the November election. Republicans had already won the negotiation—until zealots in the House threatened to scuttle the whole thing. McConnell maintained a steely silence until Thursday, then built a ladder for Boehner to climb down. He proposed that the House promptly enact a “short-term” extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance while working on a one-year measure. Within hours, the House caved. This glimpse of honest debate among Republicans won’t last long, I predict. They’ll try their best to resume the practice of absolute anti-Obama unity, which has worked quite well for them. But no one can erase what voters have seen this week, and it wasn’t pretty. There are only two possible reasons for House Republicans to behave the way they did. Maybe they are so blinded by ideology that they no longer care about the impact their actions might have on struggling American families. Or maybe their only guiding principle is that anything Obama supports, they oppose. The week’s events offer a lesson for Obama, too. One reason for all the Republican angst was that public opinion has become more sensitive to issues of economic justice. This may be partly due to the Occupy protests. But I’m convinced that Obama’s fiery barnstorming in favor of his American Jobs Act has played a big role. People are hearing his message. The president has been on the offensive. It’s no coincidence that, for the first time in quite a while, Republicans are backing up. ■



director took Social Security completely off the table in debtreduction talks under the pretense that Social Security is selffinancing. This is pure fiction, because the Treasury supplies whatever shortfalls Social Security faces. But now, with the payroll tax holiday, the administration openly demonstrates bad faith—conceding with its actions that the payroll tax is, after all, interchangeable with other revenue and never actually sequestered to ensure future payments to retirees. The House Republicans’ initial rejection of this two-month extension was therefore correct on principle and on policy. But this was absolutely the wrong place, the wrong time, to plant the flag. Once Senate Republicans overwhelmingly backed the temporary extension, that part of the fight was lost. Opposing it became kamikaze politics. Note the toll it is already taking on Republicans. For three decades Republicans owned the tax issue. Today, Obama leads by five points, a 12-point swing since just early October. The payroll tax ploy has even affected his overall approval rating, now up five points (in six weeks) to 49 percent. The Democrats set a trap and the Republicans walked right into it. By rejecting an ostensibly bipartisan “compromise,” the Republican House was portrayed as obstructionist and, even worse, heartless—willing to raise taxes on the middle class while resolutely opposing any tax increases on the rich. House Republicans compounded this debacle by begging the Senate to come back and renegotiate the issue, thus entirely conceding the initiative to Majority Leader Harry Reid. But Reid had little incentive to make any concessions. House Republicans would have taken the fall for 160 million shrunken paychecks. Every day the White House would have demanded, in the name of the suffering middle class, that Republicans return from vacation and pass the temporary extension. Having finally realized they had trapped themselves, House Republicans quickly caved, with help from a fig leaf contrived by Sen. Mitch McConnell. The GOP’s performance nicely reprises that scene in “Animal House” where the marching band turns into a blind alley and row after row of plumed morons plows into a brick wall, crumbling to the ground in an unceremonious heap. With one difference: House Republicans are unplumed. ■

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

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Fine Arts Editors Edward Higgins

Burton Wasserman Classica Music Editor Peter H. Gistelinck Music Editors Nick Bewsey

Mark Keresman Bob Perkins Tom Wilk Theater Critic David Schultz Food Editor Robert Gordon Wine Editor Patricia Savoie

Contributing A.D. Amorosi Writers Robert Beck

Jack Byer Ralph Collier Peter Croatto James P. Delpino Sally Friedman Geoff Gehman George Oxford Miller Thom Nickels R. Kurt Osenlund Victor Stabin

PO Box 120 • New Hope, PA 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). Copyright 2012 by Prime Time Publishing Co., Inc.




a thousand words



Passenger THERE IS VERY LITTLE I encounter in life that eclipses the magnificence I see in the natural world. A walk in the woods humbles me with its complexity of life. The relentless power of a swollen river can leave me spellbound with feelings of wonder and dread. Fog spilling out of the trees along the water’s edge, a cold white breath from the hills fanning out on the smooth surface, is a rare glimpse of the unseen workings that surround us. One night while driving near the meetinghouse on Sugan Road I came upon some large streams of ground fog. Three wide bands of silver shown in my headlights; each a foot deep, sliding off the field snow, down the berm and across the road into the woods. I touched the brake pedal and glanced at my mirror as I sliced through. Tufts of fog leapt and tumbled behind in the red light, swirling in my wake. Once passed the streams resolved in the dark, continuing their search for low ground. Another night I was walking through Lambertville when a wind kicked up on Ferry Street, gathering leaves from the under the bushes near the canal, sweeping them dancing and spinning in a continuous narrow column along the pavement. The train of yellow, orange and brown shapes flashed under the streetlights on the hill at Kline’s Court and took a quick right on Union. I walked beside but out of the draft watching eddies spin away; one by the cleaners, another in the doorway of the old Acme, and the final disbursement in the municipal lot. I never saw the wind, just the leaves it carried. Jack pays little attention to meteorological events like wind and fog. He doesn’t like rain, however, which is odd for a dog that’s part Lab. Water is fine; rain is not. He will stand under the roof overhang all morning if need be, defying bargains and threats, refusing to get his business done as to not get wet. But other than rain, to Jack weather is just something you chase a ball or stick in. We don’t take a ball with us on our morning walk between the river and canal since my aim can be a bit erratic. Sticks are plentiful so we chase them instead. Jack takes off like a rocket when I throw one but he’s picky about what he brings back. He smells it and paws at it, and if it doesn’t pass inspection gives me an exasperated look and waits for me to throw something more to his lik-

Robert Beck maintains a gallery and academy in Lambertville, NJ.

ing. It doesn’t appear to be a specific size or type of wood that matters so I suspect it has to do with where the stick has been. The more sordid its history the better. A few days ago Jack was lagging behind tugging at a limb in the canal when a large gray wall of fog came down the river swallowing trees on either side. It pushed a low skirt of mist in front that poured over the towpath not far from where Jack was working. The shallow layer reached us first, flowing past on both sides, giving the impression it was the ground that was moving. A strong scent of the river rode the moist air and the temperature dropped quickly. Then the dense bank wrapped around us reducing visibility to a few yards. Sound lost its depth. I could see Jack’s form moving toward me in the mist dragging his hard-won branch on the gravel. Like most

dogs I’ve owned, Jack loves carrying things that seem too big for him—things he can barely get his mouth around. And for some mysterious reason he has to grab them at the end, not the middle, so they stick out the side of his mouth like a cigar. He trots along sideways, his head twisted around and sometimes over his back with a log extending out to the side. It’s painful to watch, but there’s a bounce in Jack’s step and his tail’s going full tilt. He couldn’t be prouder. It was only about ten minutes before the sky broke through overhead. Soon the fog thinned and yielded to the morning sun. Treetops across the river reappeared. Jack was back in the canal, another fallen limb having caught his attention. Geese called in the distance. The last layer of mist on the river rose up on its toes; thin wisps that twisted in the light and were gone. ■ JANUARY 2012






Refreshed and Reloaded

Alice Neel, Claudia Bach Pregnant, 1975. Oil on canvas. Art by Women Collection, Gift of Linda Lee Alter. Courtesy of PAFA




IF THREE TENORS CAN make a smash hit from of some of the greatest Italian music, then surely three curators from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts can take some of America’s greatest art and have similar success. For the affirmative answer to this, visit the newly installed second floor of the great Furness building (a hit by itself) on North Broad. There, the new installation, American Art Starts Here: PAFA Refreshed and Reloaded, holds sway. All 13 galleries are involved in the experiment which was concocted by Anne Marley, curator of Historical Art, Robert Cozzolino, curator of Modern Art, and Julien Robson, curator of Contemporary Art. Translation: Historical as in our history; Modern as in style, not time period; and Contemporary as in the here and now. The concept is purely an artificial one, although not uninteresting. Each would

Philip Evergood Mine Disaster, 1933 Oil on canvas, 40 x 70 in Edward H. Coates Fund Courtesy of PAFA

take a look at the collection, its strengths and gaps and then set about mixing and matching other kinds of other art to better illuminate the chestnuts. It’s somewhat of a moving target, however, as some pictures may move in and out of storage to keep the concept fresh. At the time of this review, two of America’s greatest artists—Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer— were both comfortable in the same gallery. There was Homer’s “The Fox Hunt” diagonally across from Eakins’s “Walt Whitman,” and just around the corner was Eakins’s “The Gross Clinic,” arguably this country’s greatest picture. Up the grand staircase and to the left is Gallery I, untouched since hung with a billboard-sized Benjamin West. However, turn into Gallery II, once dominated by Peale, and one comes face to face with a portrait of Peale done by Vik Munoz in 2000 that looks like a blown up, gigantic half-tone poorly printed in a pulp magazine. That’s enough to grab your attention. It works in the sense that one needs the rest of the gallery to regain composure. Proceeding with modern pieces in with the 19th and early 20th century masterpieces is less jarring, and, in some cases, positively riveting as “Ruth St, Denis in a Peacock Dance” by Robert Henri hangs close to a Marsden Hartley’s “Flower Abstraction.” The Henri, completed a scant four years before the Hartley, is in a realist figurative style, while the Hartley is more “modern” due to its abstract style. Henri’s work appears more durable to the eye than the Hartley, which looks somewhat childish. In fact, it is the modernists who fare badly in most comparisons—and comparisons are clearly what are wanted of the viewer. Then comes Florine Stettheime who demonstrates in “Picnic at Bedford Hills,” painted in 1918, a year before the Henri and four years after Hartley—and which could be said to be in a totally unique style— that it is the masterful image itself which is far more important than style. In another set of “compare and contrast” pictures are the most prominent portrait artists of the 19th century: the famous battle between Cecelia Beaux and John Singer Sergeant. The examples shown are not the best these artists have created and, furthermore, they are hung with a masterful William Merritt Chase and a charming self-portrait by Margaret Richardson. The latter two are the more interesting of the four… and therein lies the lesson: Don’t be taken in by the glamour of the names. Look at the art. A lesson apparently not learned by those who shell out millions for a Jeff Koons or a Damien Hirst. The installation also shows the three curators to be a fun group. There is a solid, bourgeois Alexander Harrison, quite righteous, next to video excerpts of “Point Break,” a surfer-bank-robbery-gang movie starring Kenau Reeves and Patrick Swayze. What’s more fun? Haydn or hockey, Freud or football, Man Ray or Manischewitz? Also scattered around the galleries are elements of an exhibition overflowing from downstairs. It’s called Hennessy Youngman and Nathaniel Snerpus present: The Grand Manner. All of this is the creation of Jason Musson, a Philadelphia-based artist, who has created “a critical intervention” by fictional critics Youngman, Snerpus and Pierre LeFou. He’s got all the right vocabulary, ego, and presumption of a real critic. The package is a delightful exercise in art history, art aesthetics, and the foppery of the art world. Like good journalism, it afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted. What’s not to like? ■

Lily Martin Spencer, Mother and Child by the Hearth, 1867. Oil on canvas. Edna Andrade, Wyckoff, and Harriet B. Kravitz Funds. Courtesy of PAFA

Edward Higgins is a member of The Association Internationale Des Critiques d’Art.






From Purple Orchids to Multicolor Dreamscapes HE LATEST SOLO SHOW of original graphic prints by Idaherma Williams, A Discovery of Woodblock Prints in Color, is set for presentation in the art gallery of Connelly Center, the Student Activities Building on the campus of Villanova University. It will run from January 10 to February 16, 2012. The installation is a beautiful example of what a Frenchman might call a formidable exhibition. The examples on view truly hail the new year with aesthetic gusto and a massive dose of creative bravura. Idaherma’s image content consists of visions combining ideas taken from her imagination and from personal perceptions with daring leaps of an unquenchable feeling for fanciful whimsy. They all come together in a bright vocabulary of spectrum colors combined with an awesome reservoir of black and white shapes. As original constellations of extraordinary magnetic power, they quiver with a touch of magic only her hand can render. Above all, they emerge from the totality of her being in much the way a child comes into the world from the unique complexity of its mother’s characteristic nature. Before this occasion, Idaherma’s most recent solo exhibition was an invitational presentation at the Museum of the American Hungarian Foundation in New Brunswick, NJ. Widely admired as an artist, she has also shown her work throughout the United States and abroad. During a long and distinguished career, she has earned more than 40 highly respected awards in numerous juried shows. Idaherma is also the immediate past president of the American Color Print Society. The principal source of Idaherma’s early formal study took place at the Philadelphia College of Art, now renamed the University of the Arts. While there, she especially enjoyed studying with such talented artists of the local region as Ben Eisenstat and Jerry Kaplan. She also holds an MFA degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, Idaherma feels indebted to two important printmakers, Josef Domjan of Hungary and Ansei Uchima of Japan. Their work continues to inspire her to the present day. There is something mysterious and elusive about the remarkable way Idaherma’s grammar of design first takes hold and then enhances both a viewer’s attention and concentration. In addition, her integration of sensitive color relationships and extraordinary feeling of spatial depth engender a distinctive power of expression. Woven together as one, they warm a visitor’s sense of being alive and in touch with insights that are rare and unique. For example, in “Street Scene,” colors seem to change as the light falling on them undergoes modification. The perception of tones in a street setting, observed through the slats of Venetian blinds on a window in a room, becomes different from the colors on some objects located indoors. The flickering variation of the chromatic notes generates optical sensations as energetic as an electric current. At the same time, the contrast between the interior and exterior forms is alive with a vitality all its own. Beyond all of these considerations, there is yet another note of variation, struck by the difference between the natural and artificial forms of assorted plants, strolling people, buildings and furniture. Idaherma also has a special feeling for biomorphic life. Perhaps with a reference to both Noah’s Ark in the Old Testament and the art of Paul Gauguin, she has conceived a woodcut titled “Noa Noa,” In it, she offers a wide representation of two- and four-legged creatures, proceeding in pairs across the surface of the sheet on which they were printed. In the process, even the organic character of the trees used to supply the wooden blocks she cuts for her printing matrices can be felt in the rhythms of the finished design. A similar flavor presents itself in pictures dealing with dragonflies, moths, butterflies, all manner of flowers and even train car interiors. Finally, one of the most gratifying features of Idaherma’s approach is the absence of slickness and cheap facility one finds in her work. Her ability to employ sincere invention and her freedom from tiresome mannerisms and dreary clichés are hall-marks many another artist would do well to study. ■

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







footlights L-R: Mekhi Phifer (Flip); Rosie Benton (Kimber); Tracie Thoms (Taylor); and Dulé Hill (Kent). Photo: Richard Termine.


Stick Fly LYDIA R. DIAMOND’S NEW play flies around (sorry) a lot of tantalizing topics. Its overtly soap opera-like dishing in its first act reveals a deep emotional core in its second. The characters at first glance seem too strident in an almost cartoonish way. The metaphors and overly diagramed plotlines initially bothered me, but the nuanced cast members get into a groove as they settle into their characterizations. Director Kenny Leon relaxes a bit in that second act and lets the story unfold in a more organic manner. The play takes place in a sprawling beach house on the tony resort island of Martha’s Vineyard. The wealthy African-American LeVay family have had roots there for years, and during a raucous weekend a lot of dirt and secrets are exposed. The play kick-starts with Taylor (Tracie Thoms), the daughter of a black intellectual, brought to the house by Kent, a novelist, played by Dulé Hill. Taylor is an entomologist—so start your metaphors when you please. It is here that she will meet up with Kent’s older 12



brother Flip (Mekhi Phifer), a plastic surgeon, who is bringing his new white girlfriend, Kimber (Rosie Benton), to the house to introduce her to the taciturn family patriarch, Joe LeVay (Ruben Santiago-Hudson), a neurosurgeon. These various characters assemble and slowly, tiny bits of hidden history and secrets come tumbling forward. Currently residing in the house is the young daughter of their longtime maid, Cheryl (Condola Rashad). She is helping out with the demanding chores of the house, because her mother, offstage and never seen, is ill. It is Cheryl, in the second act, who uncovers a secret that throws all the relationships into disarray. With the abundance of political banter, dissections of race relations, and deep-seated parent-child problems, the melodrama bursts at its seams. The initial exposition is a tad tiresome, but playwright Diamond carefully weaves her web. The discussions of class and race have more than a whiff of a carefully thought out symposium.

But the verbal sparring between these fractious folks is energizing and invigorating. The fully engaged cast works extremely well as an ensemble and overcomes any qualms. The work satisfies on many levels. It can be seen by some as an ethnic variation of Tracy Letts’s August, Osage County, but with a more jazzed feel. Like August, this work crams in almost too much and stuffs it with coincidences that defy belief. Many of the surprising revelations can be seen a mile away by savvy theatergoers—but that’s not the point. The overriding pleasures of this work are the way in which all the pieces fit together, how the rarely expressed ideas are put forth, and Ms. Diamond’s whirling dialogue that sticks with you long after the curtain falls. ■ Stick Fly, the Cort Theater, 138 West 48th Street, Manhattan. Open run. David Schultz is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.




regional theater


Body Awareness 1/4-2/5

in 2001. Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St., Philadelphia PA. (215) 574-3550. $30.

In a sleepy suburb in Vermont, Shirley State College is holding its annual Body Awareness Week. In charge of the week’s festivities, college professor Phyllis has anything but a conventional life with girlfriend Joyce and her son Jared. But when Frank Bonitatibus, a visiting artist, brings his photographs of nude women into their home, conflicting feelings over sexuality and identity get hilariously stirred up. Nominated for the Drama Desk Best New Play award, this touching comedy is fresh from Obie-Award winning playwright Annie Baker. Directed by Anne Kauffman. Wilma Theater, Broad and Spruce Streets, Phila. (215) 546-7824.

The Scottsboro Boys 1/20-2/19 From the legendary songwriting team of Kander and Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman), The Scottsboro Boys is a stirring musical that explores the infamous 1930s Scottsboro Case in which a group of African-American men are falsely accused of a terrible crime, ultimately provoking a national outrage that sparked the American Civil rights movement. This thought provoking musical is the definition of inspired American musical theater with a melodic score, and is the last musical both icons worked on as a team. Philadelphia Theater Company, Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad & Lombard Sts., Phila. (215) 985-0420. The Mousetrap 1/17-3/4

Playwright Annie Baker.

Memphis 1/17-1/22 Memphis takes place in the smoky halls and underground clubs of the segregated 50s, where a young white DJ named Huey Calhoun fell in love with everything he shouldn’t: rock and roll and an electrifying black singer. This Tony Award-winning musical is an original story about the cultural revolution that erupted when his vision met her voice, and the music changed forever. Memphis features a brand new score with music by Bon Jovi’s founding member and keyboardist David Bryan and lyrics by Bryan and Joe DiPietro, who also penned the musical’s book. Academy of Music, Broad & Locust Streets, Phila. (215) 731-3333. $20-$100. Proof 1/17-2/5 Everyone has parents and everyone aspires to be like them in some way. But what happens when there’s a distinct possibility that we may inherit their talent—and their madness? Proof, written by Award-winning playwright David Auburn, is a luminous play about fathers and daughters, genius and insanity, legacy and truth. The play introduces us to a young woman, haunted by her father’s death. She seems to have inherited his talent for numbers, and a touch of wild passion as well. Proof has garnered the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won the Tony Award for Best Play 14



When a group of strangers are trapped together at a manor house during a snowstorm, they soon discover one of them is a murderer. Is it the newlyweds whose rampant suspicions nearly wreck their marriage? Maybe it’s the spinster with the curious background. It could be the architect, the retired Army Major, or maybe the odd man who claims his car overturned in a snow drift. Walnut Street Theater, 825 Walnut St., Phila. (215) 574-3550. Hair 1/3-1/8 With a score including such enduring musical numbers as “Let the Sun Shine In,” “Aquarius,” “Hair” and “Good Morning Starshine,” Hair depicts the birth of a cultural movement in the 60s and 70s that changed America forever. The musical follows a group of hopeful, free-spirited young people who advocate a lifestyle of pacifism and free-love in a society riddled with intolerance and brutality during the Vietnam War. Academy of Music, Broad & Locust Sts. Phila. (215) 893-1999. $20$100. Ludwig Live! 1/12-1/29 The two-person show features legendary New York pianist Charles Lindberg as Ludwig, and Katherin Pecevich, playing the stage manager who pops on stage in wigs and costumes of the more than two dozen characters she portrays. Lindberg plays the piano from memory, performing the best hits of Beethoven, Johann Strauss, Joseph Haydn, John Philip Sousa and Barry Manilow. As his foil, Pecevich sings everything from rock to country music, playing characters from Janis Joplin and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, to Napoleon and Ludwig’s Yiddish Momma. Kimmel Center’s Innovation Studio @ The Kimmel Center, Broad & Spruce St., Phila. (215) 731-3333. $35-$47. ■




reel news The Guard (2011) ★★★★ Cast: Don Cheadle, Brendan Gleeson Genre: Comedy Rated R for pervasive language, violence, drug references, sexual content. Running time 96 minutes. Awards: Sundance nominated Grand Jury Prize This formula good cop/bad cop, cultural-mismatch, Irish black comedy hits the mark with clever dialogue perfectly delivered by two consummate actors. Small town Sgt. Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) is profane, overweight, enjoys loose women, and is not above purloining drugs from Brendan Gleeson. dead traffic victims. When a multi-million dollar drug deal heads toward his rural village, the FBI sends Special Agent Wendell Everett (Cheadle) to team with Boyle and intercept the transaction. Boyle is relentless with his stereotypic racial comments and Wendell unflappable with his acerbic provincial cop insults. Clueless but not Dumb and Dumber, the two actors bounce off each other like an Irish jig.

Moneyball (2011) ★★★★ Cast: Brad Pitt Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill Based on the nonfiction book by Michael Lewis, Rated PG-13 for some strong language. Running time 133 minutes. Perhaps no other sport loves to spin statistics as much as baseball. Announcers have a stat for every possibility, even though the players invariably prove them wrong. In 2002, the Oakland Athletics started the season with eleven losses. General manager Billy Beane (Pitt) had to rebuild with the lowest budget in MLB, an impossible task until he met Yale statistician Peter Brand (Hill) who offered an alternative approach. Let a computer crunch the stats and choose the best combination of bargain-basement players for a winning team. Sheer heresy! Based on actual team history, the story

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

The Ides of March (2011) ★★★★ Cast: George Cooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti Genre: Drama Based on the play “Farragut North” by Beau Willimon. Directed by George Clooney. Rated R for pervasive language. Running time 100 minutes. As the current presidential campaign heats up and contenders soar then crash, you can’t help wondering how many times candidates are bought and sold. Stephen Meyers (Gosling) aggressively manages the campaign of Gov. Morris (Clooney), whose integrity seems beyond reproach. But as the Ohio vote approaches, victory becomes more dependent on backroom deals, spreading unsubstantiated rumors, and cover-ups than on the issues. Everyone plays the angles, plays the media, and plays the opponents. Every day brings another news cycle and compromises that nip away part of the politician’s soul. Without looking back, the politicians advance to the next Faustian bargain. Great acting and an insidGeorge Clooney. er’s look behind the curtain make this story all too realistic.

Drive (2011) ★★★ Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac Genre: Action drama Based on the novel by James Sallis. Rated R for strong, brutal and bloody violence, language and some nudity. Running time 102 minutes.

Brad Pitt and Kerris Dorsey.

Not for the squeamish about brutal, bloody violence, or those who want empathetic characters, this film noir hits you like a sucker punch. As might be expected for a story about a getaway driver, chase scenes dominate over plot or character development. Driver (Gosling), the classic anti-hero who favors action to words, emotes solemn looks with few words. He stunts for movies by day and provides high-speed chauffeur service for criminals by night. When he meets his new neighbor, Irene (Mulligan), sparks fly, but don’t expect redemptive romance. Irene’s criminally inclined husband (Isaac) returns from prison with his own seductive proposition. Of course, the just-one-last-job goes bust. Tires scream, blood gushes, and Driver must use his wits and car skills to survive. Souped-up cars, hot cash, desperate criminals, and doomed love—what more could you ask for in an art-house, pulp-fiction genre? ■

probes the unlikely combination of offbeat, untried ideas, personalities beaten more by life than a game, and the human will to succeed. In-depth characters, not big-game victories, make this more than a formula sports movie.

George Miller is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and believes that travel is a product of the heart, not the itinerary. See his webmagazine at









The Descendants

Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly.

We Need to Talk About Kevin




LYNNE RAMSAY’S WE NEED to Talk About Kevin places its main character (Tilda Swinton) in a shattered suburban world, where she mopes in an indifferent daze, unsure how she got there and if she can ever leave. The movie is a showcase for Swinton, who in delivering an assured, intense performance provides the movie’s lone reason for being. When we first meet Swinton’s character, Eva, she emerges from a rough night to find her house covered in red paint. The car has also been hit, though she can see enough through the crimson windshield to go for a ride. Through it all, Eva reacts like the paperboy threw the newspaper in the rose bushes again. We learn the story of Eva’s numbness, which starts with the birth of her son, Kevin. Eva, who has little enthusiasm for motherhood, holds the baby like a sack of flour.


Kevin cries incessantly. Eva’s solution is to stand next to a construction site, where even the jack hammering can’t drown out the yelps. As Kevin exits his toddler years, he’s a loathsome, manipulative terror. He portrays himself as an enthusiastic, happy tyke to Franklin (John C. Reilly), Kevin’s dad and Eva’s husband, while driving Eva nuts. Kevin ruins her map-lined room, the only enclave in a gigantic, soulless suburban fortress that’s her own. When confronted by Franklin, the boy says he only wanted to make the room special for mom. Though clearly beyond potty training, Kevin favors diapers, controlling his bowel movements solely to spite Eva. Since Kevin faces no consequences and belongs to disagreeing parents—one who is never around; the other who resents his presence—the stage is set for an act of teenage rage that will devastate a community and destroy Eva. Ramsay and co-writer Rory Stewart Kinnear, working from Lionel Shriver’s novel, fashion a strong dramatic base by capturing the despair involved in raising a young child. (Women worldwide will feel compelled to double-check their birth control pills.) But in establishing Kevin’s malignant behavior and Eva’s current misery, Ramsay and Kinnear take shortcuts. Reilly’s sole purpose here is to provide the “Kevin isn’t a bad kid” counterweight. It’s a lazy tactic that allows the writers to glance over Franklin and Eva’s marital woes and how Kevin becomes a nihilist with great hair. Kevin’s evilness gets reduced to shallow logic: Since he plays one parent against the other, he’s destined to do horrible things. Really? Did Ramsay and Kinnear ever see The Parent Trap? Franklin’s presence in the storyline, aside from wasting Reilly’s considerable talents as America’s favorite sad sack, leads to a thematically jumbled film. Throughout the toggling between the present and the past, we get glimpses of Kevin’s terrible act. Because Ramsay can’t move firmly in one direction, the film exists in this unsatisfying realm where you kind of get a somber character study and you sort of get an updated version of Gaslight. That’s not the only way Ramsay mishandles the material. Eva is the town enemy, prone to being slapped or verbally maligned for Kevin’s actions. Considering the losses Eva has suffered, and if the wronged still honor Hamurabi’s Code, why does that happen? And if every time I went to Subway I risked getting kicked in the balls, I’d at least consider moving to the next county. A scene where trick-or-treaters terrify a candy-less Eva plays like something from a Roger Corman cheapie. Franklin and Eva’s home comes from a long line of suburban palaces whose sole purpose in movies is to shout, “Love can’t exist here!” Eva’s current job is so flagrantly drab—badly dressed, barely washed employees, travel posters not sticking to the wall—that you’re not sure if Ramsay is being sardonic or obvious. Either way, it’s an ill fit. We Need to Talk About Kevin does have Swinton, who helps illuminate the one positive aspect of Eva’s tragedy: she’s become a mom for the first time. Ezra Miller is gripping as the 15-year-old Kevin, turning charisma and intelligence into absolutely chilling characteristics. Those strong performances, and a potentially absorbing story, get lost in Ramsay’s rush to elicit effect with little regard for cause. [R] ■

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




keresman on film

Rooney Mara.


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Hitchcock + Tarantino + Sweden = a helluva film DISCLAIMER: THIS WRITER HAS not seen the Swedish original film nor read the novel on which it is based…so no comparisons here. Put ye aside your prejudices regarding American remakes of films from other lands. True, most remakes (from wherever) tend to pale with the original (if not suck outright), but this is a solid, entertaining watch. It combines the somber detail of a Hitchcock mystery, the super-caffeinated rush of Tarantino sex and violence, the upper-crust sleaze of Tennessee Williams, and the icy moodiness of Scandinavian art and indie films. It’s the kind of movie that the more you know about it in advance, the less fun it’ll be. But I got a job to do, Dear Reader, and I won’t let you down. Basics: Daniel Craig (the latest James Bond) is Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who just had the ass handed to him by the local judiciary. (An American remake but the setting is still Land of the Swedes.) Blomkvist wrote an exposé-type magazine article against a Swedish J. Paul Got-Rocks, a somewhat sleazy tycoon/magnate/mogul. He got sued for liable and is licking his wounds when he is contacted by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), a construction/publishing/etc. 20



magnate with a problem. It seems his favorite niece disappeared 40 years ago and he was suitably impressed by Blomkvist’s since-discredited story on Got-Rocks. (Further, there is no love lost between these two capitalist titans—the enemy of my enemy is my friend, dig?) Vanger makes Blomkvist an offer nobody could refuse—research the disappearance of his niece and be paid wellover double what he would earn normally as a journalist and—if he comes up with something conclusive for the haven’t-many-years-left Vanger—some dirt with which to smear Got-Rocks. LOTS of money AND a chance for revenge? Where do I sign? On the other side of the aisle/coin/balance sheet, is Lisbeth Salander, played by American actress Rooney Mara (The Social Network, lots of TV). She’s a walking wreck of a polymath, a multi-tattooed punk chick with ace computer skills (she’s a hacker), a seemingly photographic memory, a facility with electronics (especially audio-video sneakiness), calculating, a chain-smoker, and a sensual hedonist (or is that hedonistic sensualist?) with a taste for…well, you know, one from column A and one from column B. She works as a researcher, fact-finder, and private detective for corporate types (and probably

anyone with the green). Blomkvist just happened to be one of her topics of study—and despite being pissed about it Blomkvist knows her talents will come in handy. So the two reluctant allies go to live temporarily on an island-estate populated by the slightly baleful Vanger clan. If this were an American family living in the South, Tennessee Williams would have a blast with this extended family— practically everyone hates everyone and/or has a creepy past (a couple of them were Nazis during World War II, alcoholism, acting as if their waste products don’t emit an unfavorable odor, etc.). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a plot-driven movie, with just enough characterization to keep things moving along. The burly Craig seems a little bit miscast, but he mostly convincingly portrays a weary yet driven nose-for-news journalist. Plummer is charming (as you knew he’d be) as the erudite, cynical yet melancholy patriarch that knows full well the family tree is riddled with rot. The real star is Mara as Lisbeth—she’s droll, brusque, unimpressed by most people, surly, hedonistic (but I said that already), and not one to suffer injury (of any sort) lightly. Simply put: Don’t piss her off. Yet there are bits of vulnerability beneath the surface—like the Dead End Kids in the 1930s Warner Brothers films and some of the restless youths of Rebel Without a Cause, her rough-andtumble cheek ‘n’ churlishness is borne of self-preservation. She knows nobody is going to give anything away and some will take whatever they can get (from her or anyone), so her shields are up, Scotty. Lisbeth is not exactly likable but she is a captivating character. Among the fine supporting players are Robin Wright, Joely Richardson, and Stellan Skarsgärd (whose son Alexander chews scenery—and throats—on True Blood), and the unofficial king of Croatia, Goran Visnjic. This Girl was directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, Panic Room), who clearly knows how to build tension, sometimes to where it’s almost agonizing. Fincher doesn’t spare the actors nor the audience—there are [mild spoiler warning] scenes of violence (including sexual violence and animal cruelty) that are not exactly easy to watch. (I’m no gore-hound but I do like George Romero’s “Living Dead” movies, Sin City, The Killer Inside Me, and 28 Days Later.) [So if you’re easily upset, be now ye warned.] In terms of a mystery, Fincher virtually puts the viewer in the investigators’ positions, practically necessitating (maybe daring) you to actually pay attention to what’s on screen…and by gum, that’s refreshing. Whereas too many films ask the viewer to turn his/her brain off for 90 or so minutes, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an adult thrill ride that requires you NOT turn down your mental faculties to “2.” ■

In addition to ICON, Mark Keresman is a contributing writer for SF Weekly, East Bay Express, Pittsburgh City Paper, Paste, Jazz Review, downBeat, and the Manhattan Resident.





bad movie


Another Earth “I want to go to there.” —Liz Lemon, 30 Rock OCCASIONALLY THERE ARE FILMS, comic books, and novels that attempt to combine the lives of everyday people with lofty concepts, the mundane with the uncanny, could-be fiction with might-be fiction. Examples include: Rod Serling’s short story “Class of ’99” (as seen on Night Gallery), in which we get a glimpse of a different kind of college final; True Blood, small-town Louisiana life contrasted and impacted by the existence of vampires in the world (that is, before it got all silly); Fahrenheit 451, a dystopian future where books are illegal, and the comic book series Sandman, in which justplain-folks deal with the fallout of (or become entangled within) the supernatural world(s) of Dreams. In each, the unlikely or “fantastic” becomes the backdrop for the all-too-familiar dramas of devastating change and defining loss. Which brings us to Sundance Film Festival winner Another Earth, in which a tale of loss and redemption is set against the “discovery” of, you guessed it, “another” Earth. The subject/trope of a world or universe that is a parallel to ours is indeed an attractive one—and no wonder: There’s LOTS one can do with it, no end to the conceptual “fun” a writer can have. Things might be generally or essentially similar but with some crucial differences—what if, for example, one of the Kennedy brothers had not been assassinated? What if the Allies’ D-Day invasion in World War II failed? Then, of course, what if this parallel world was the opposite of ours? (The evil but equally logical Mr. Spock on the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror”; Nixon gets elected for a third term as in Watchmen.) Y’see, no end to the fun. Gosh, I wish someone had told the creators of Another Earth about the plethora of pregnant possibilities. While Another Earth has some worthy moments, it’s toxically solemn, and while it appears to strive for a combination of drama with science-fiction, what it does is use the sci-fi aspects as window dressing, shoehorning them into a tedious, contrived saga that could’ve been avoided with one wee bromide: Don’t drink and drive. Story: Teenage Rhoda (the lovely Brit Marling, who co-scripted) is accepted to MIT. Like most youths, she parties…but being smart enough to get into a prestigious school doesn’t mean she has the brains not to drive in an inebriated state. (See, youth is wasted on the 22



Brit Marling.

young.) Further, the car radio speaks of the discovery of another Earth, one that can be seen with the naked eye. So, being the Whiz Kid she is, Rhoda scans the skies for said “Earth 2” while she’s driving. Faster than you can say “plot contrivance,” Rhoda’s car plows into the car of an exceptionally happy, cheery family: Father, pregnant mother, and child…guess which two die. Yes, the latter two…fast forward, Rhoda graduates from Crossbar University, consumed by guilt and almost obsessive about Earth 2, which scientists have leaned more about since. Rhoda goes to live with her parents and the prerequisite creepy, obnoxious younger brother. She visits the survivor of the accident, Yale professor John, who’s become a sloppy recluse since the accident, to apologize [?] but instead offers her services as a clean-up person. (Yep, that’s just what most folks would do.) Does she become a positive presence in the walkingwounded world of John? What do you think? Of course, Rhoda hasn’t spilled yet the beans about her part in the rearrangement of John’s life four years earlier. How does one broach such a touchy subject? Meanwhile, about that other Earth… Throughout, we overhear news reports about this other Earth…by gum, it can be seen in the daytime, with the naked eye. Never mind that another planet that close to ours would literally wreak massive havoc with its gravitational pull. Cripes, even high school science classes teach us the Moon has influence on the tides of our Earth—imagine a planet’s influence. Now I’m not one of those types that “insists” on scientific accuracy all-the-way, but come on, we’ve got to pay attention to basics or you may as well be in Ed Wood-town. (In Wood’s Plan Nine From Outer Space, one of the Aliens Superior to Us Earth Creatures makes reference to “atmospheric conditions in space” Uh-huh.). Besides, there is cinematic science to be considered, such as: BUY A DAMN TRIPOD. Yes, this is one of movies shot in exasperatingly flat-looking, dreary, drab, shaky, hand-held High-Def (meaning you should be high and/or deaf when you see it) videotape. Also, for some reason, the sun never seems to shine on Rhoda and John’s Earth One. I know this is a Serious Drama for it practically shouts “This is SERIOUS CINEMA” with every frame, but jeez, does it have to be so oppressive about it? While Rhoda/Marling is very attractive, she (or director/co-writer Mike Cahill) tries to “plain-herself-down” in the manner of Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality, which means it looks kinda bogus or borderline silly, like “the pretty ugly girl” in teen-angst movies. (“Why [gasp], with your glasses off, you’re beautiful.”) There is some very good acting (especially from Marling) but it’s so relentlessly monochromatic (not to mentioned slowly paced) it’s almost amusing, like a parody of indie movies. Keep an eye out for Marling, but only see Another Earth if you’re too happy or don’t care diddley about science fiction but want to appear “open-minded.” ■




film roundup War Horse (Dir: Steven Spielberg). Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Thewlis, Niels Arestrup. Like drinking maple syrup straight from the bottle. A plucky English farmboy (Irvine, in a grating performance) connects with a beautiful, wild stallion, but the relationship abruptly ends when the boy’s cash-strapped father (Mullan) sells the gorgeous beast to the Jeremy Irvine. British cavalry. And so begins the horse’s glorious travels through World War I Europe, where he provides an escape for two ill-fated German brothers, enchants a sickly French girl, and helps warring sides work together. Spielberg has always had a saccharine side—remember his endings to Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan?—but at least those movies had memorable content that somewhat justified the weepy finales. War Horse is a feature-length greeting card from Spielberg on the wonders of a beautiful animal with vaguely human qualities, which should delight the apartment-bound, cat-hoarding spinster demographic. Thanks to characters with the emotional depth of Precious Moments figurines, we’re left with no relatable protagonist, only a damned horse running purposelessly toward a conclusion we can’t wait to arrive. Previously a novel and a Broadway play. [PG] ★ Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Dir: Tomas Alfredson). Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones. Adaptation of John le Carré’s 1974 novel stars Oldman (in heavy make-up) as George Smiley, a veteran British secret intelligence officer who returns from a forced retirement to catch a double agent working for the Soviets. The twists, turns, and details quickly accumulate in this Cold War-era espionage drama. It’s entertaining for about an hour until you reach a damning realization: the pot is Gary Oldman. on the stove, but the water ain’t boiling. The film presents each revelation so somberly that you can’t get jazzed about the web of lies uncovered by Smiley, who escorts us through the events like a beaten down tour guide, not the ideal personality to carry a film heavy on details. Films like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy only succeed if the constant misdirection grabs our attention or if there’s a grand payoff that makes the waiting worthwhile. Alfredson’s film has neither. It’s in permanent anticlimax. [R] ★★

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

Matt Damon maggie Elizabeth Jones.

material, and maintain our interest amidst the self-help maxims disguised as dialogue, Jones’s insistent mugging, and Higgins’s tired self-serious nimrod routine. Crowe, who apparently has forgotten what he’s learned since making Almost Famous 12 years ago, does everything but include shots of puppies and babies in a non-stop attempt to make us ooh and aaah and remember to call mom. Damon and Johansson help him dodge a bullet. Based on a true story. [PG] ★★★ Shame (Dir: Steve McQueen). Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, Nicole Beharie, James Badge Dale. Stoic, successful New Yorker Brandon Sullivan (Fassbender) lives in an upscale, minimalist bubble. Driven by an insatiable appetite for sex, the only people that enter his realm are the women who give him momentary pleasure, a

Michael Fassbender.

We Bought a Zoo (Dir: Cameron Crowe). Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Elle Fanning, Patrick Fugit, John Michael Higgins. Recently widowed and “sick of sympathy,” journalist Benjamin Mee (Damon) decides that he and his kids need a fresh start. And they get one, moving onto 18 acres of rolling California real estate that features a broken down zoo that he’s required to maintain. This development thrills Mee’s seven-year-old daughter (Jones), annoys his moody teenage son (Ford), and shocks his older brother (Church), who advises Mee to stop making life changes “just before you get to zebras.” Damon and Johansson, as Mee’s no-nonsense zookeeper and inevitable romantic interest, are the reason to watch. Their stripped-down, stirring performances rise above the cutesy 24



pursuit that keeps him occupied and isolated. When Brandon’s younger sister, a needy, wayward singer (Mulligan, excellent as always), whirls into town, a major dilemma arises: How does Brandon respond to a woman who wants him for an emotional connection, not just sex? Critics have properly raved over Fassbender’s anguished, gutsy performance, but McQueen’s deliberate (the man loves long takes), deliberately unsexy direction provides the ideal stage for Brandon’s moral torture. The director doesn’t frame New York as some twinkly cosmopolitan wonderland, but as an anonymous, impersonal landscape that can amplify loneliness, the kind of place that warrants Mulligan’s haunting, forlorn rendition of “New York, New York.” [NC-17] ★★★1/2 ■









Zoe Strauss exorcist of bleak spirits

IT ALL STARTED WITH a picture in her head, a mind’s eye-full of a grimy plastic orange milk crate nailed to a found flat of plywood that the neighbor kids around her corner at 13th & Dickenson were using as a makeshift basketball hoop. “Not to sound corny—I mean, I don’t care if it does sound corny,” says Zoe Strauss on a cold Sunday morning in December. “But that was the first time that I knew, the first thing I ever wanted to photograph, that “aha!” moment.” I may tease that the big reveal comes across like the iconic “wow” during the Richard Attenborough Chaplin film where the Little Tramp discovers the twin totems of the bowler and cane as if they were the grail and away went the myth. Yet if that’s

where and how Strauss got from point A to the present day of point B, she should continue to “aha!” away. For here she is, 12 years after that moment, with her first major museum exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (starting January 14, 2012), Zoe Strauss: Ten Years. While the mid-career retrospective (I tend to think of it as an early career look-see) acts as the first real critical assessment of her decade-long public space project below the bustle of I-95 in South Philadelphia, the exhibition’s 170 prints and shifting artist-created slideshows also shows her roots in the pre-95 past and the future of where she’s going with the Gulf Coast-centric “On the Beach” series and beyond. On this Sunday, mere weeks before the show’s start, Strauss and her curator, Peter

If A.D. Amorosi isn’t found writing features for ICON, the Philadelphia Inquirer, acting as a columnist for Philadelphia City Paper (amongst other writings appearing on NBC-TV’s The 10! Show, and editing at Blurt magazine), he’s probably running his greyhound or trying on snug fitting suits.




Barbary, are still determining what will go where in this graphic yet nobly elegant show of crack whores, transvestites, battered storefronts, pregnant welfare mothers, sun-dappled rooms strewn with garbage and ambient airy urban landscapes. “This is the genuinely exciting part, the work in progress aspect of the slide show that will change throughout the run of the exhibition, the manner in which what photos will sit next to each other. “ Like any great narrative chat, everything changes with the drop of a phrase or the introduction of a new previously unforeseen notion. “It will be just like the I-95 thing in that the syntax has to be right. It can go either way. Some things make sense intellectually—but it has to do THE JOB, across from each other, next to each other.” Without previous training or formal education in photography, Strauss got a camera for her 30th birthday and set about the intuitive process that started with that image of orange crate art. “I specifically asked for it to begin working on the installation,” says Strauss. “The money came from my wife, my mom and my siblings (one of which, famously, is DJ Cosmo Baker). They all gave money and I bought the camera.” Under the self-titled banner of the Public Art Project (“everyday people need and deserve art,” she once told me) the one-gal-Project-ionist traveled between her immediate blocks, those of Camden, NJ, and eventually the Katrina-then-BP-ravaged area of Louisiana to capture the beaten but not broken—the shuttered buildings, the dark-eyed inhabitants. There was an urgency to her work, made doubly electric when you consider how Strauss’s work ethic came down to snap, print, then dis-

play Xeroxed copies underneath I-95 almost immediately. While there was a currency that came from the beauty and struggle of everyday life, the fluidity of gender, American identity, getting by, addiction, desire and desperation, love, failure and redemption, it was made exponentially more explosive due to its sudden haste of exposition—as if it had to be expelled in an exorcism of bleak spirits. Along with that intuitive base, there is a formalism to Strauss’s work that revealed the conventions of traditional portraiture. It’s important that, though Strauss is notable for her pained faces and tortured and joyful exhibitionism, her favorites in the collection— while ever-changing—are not what you’d think. “Almost always my favorites are the austere architectural images or the abstract images.” Though she started her series with neighborhood installations (“like two boats colliding in a lot in at 5th and Wharton,” she laughs while presenting those old photos), the photos of those members of society overlooked or purposely avoided became her aesthetic mien as well as her responsibility beyond documentation. “Social responsibility is important to me regardless of my work.” When I-95—its ten year run—was over last year, she was gone from it. “A decade seemed like the right amount of time to build a strong body of work and insure that the installation wouldn’t be overworked. I wanted to give it everything and there’s no way I could have sustained that indefinitely.” No more. No more. No more. Or so she thought. “It was the actual inspiration for me beginning to photograph, so I’m kind of amazed that I still have the same desire to photograph now that I-95 is over.

A Pew Grant was followed by an ICA show of her finest work, followed by the very recent announcement that she’d won a slot in 2006’s prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial, then the Philadelphia Museum of Art show, accompanied by a city-wide bulk of over-sized billboards that commenced to run in December—39 located from Manayunk to West Philadelphia and from Northeast Philadelphia to I-95 South. I remind her of Al Pacino’s line in Godfather 3 where the aged Michael Corleone yells, “Every time I try to get out they pull me back in.” Strauss says she often feels like Pacino, but the younger Al in Dog Day Afternoon rather than the Mafia don when she quotes the line, “I speak what I feel.” So here Strauss is now with her curator Barbary, poring over her photographs with the passion of a romantic tangle (“it’s shockingly intimate to have to do this with your work”) and crafting the last minute minutia of it all with laser intensity. Though I-95 makes up the bulk of the exhibition, there’s the future in front of this retrospective that has a role in the show—her new “On the Beach” program that takes the viewer through the first paces of her trips to an embattled Louisiana. “I’m not even ready to think about where the next work might go,” she says. “I’m thinking that I’m trying to make it through April. But I did feel as if it was important to discuss moving forward with just a few images. It began with catastrophe (Katrina, BP spills) but you have to look at the long term. It all depends how ambivalent people are. But no matter what, I’m here for the long haul.” Sounds familiar. n








Alchemist OF LIGHT

WALKING TO WARREN MULLER’S chandelier art studio from the opposite end of the Girard Avenue area of Northern Liberties is a bit like stepping into a an old celluloid redux of The Matrix. The open sky, while slightly reminiscent of Colorado, meets a very bland sort of industrial highway. There are no sidewalks here, although a dead railroad track snakes in and out of various abandoned lots. The feeling of desolation is oddly comforting—the words “industrially romantic” come to mind—and the tall fence meant to block access to a scrap yard only halfway succeeds: passersby over the years have dug out peep holes for a glimpse into a hidden terrain of debris mountains composed of waste material from consumer society. Muller’s studio, Bahdeebahou, is highlighted by a Dadaist outdoor sculpture that looks like an image from a dream. The studio’s immense Basilica-like doors open into an equally immense space that at first feels too empty. Inside the studio, more than likely you’ll be met by the resident Feng Shui guardians, Elbe and Bella, two Chihauhuas who will run toward you but stop just before reaching your feet. Like an animated Hallmark greeting, the dogs will get you to follow them to Muller, who may be anywhere inside the labyrinthine cave working on his latest chandelier. Muller’s chandeliers are made from scrap metal, trashed buggy wheels, old vinegar bottles, toy trains, found objects, family heirlooms, dolls, toy ships, imperfect crystals or plastic fish that look like the stuffed specimens in a fisherman’s dens. If the range here seems impossibly wide, that’s because it is. If you want ample proof of this, take a trip to Bahdeebahou yourself where you’ll see any number of working projects in suspended animation. A signature Muller chandelier can cost upwards of $25,000. When a client asks Muller if he can make a chandelier from a box of old family heirlooms—which may include anything from an old set of antique hobby horse heads to an assortment of Victorian era tops—Muller is careful to say that he’ll do what he can, although there are no guarantees that he will “use their stuff.” Muller chandeliers are in private homes, offices and restaurants the world over. This summer he completed a chandelier for the Chandelier Museum in the South of France, a near three-year project that necessitated spending time in France with his assistant Rebecca. The fact that the French have heard of his work and treated him like a celebrity—giving him a house to live in while he worked on the project, as well as access to scrap yards, thousands of imperfect crystals from the Museum, and a special dinner in his honor-—stands in stark contrast to his relative, muted celebrity in Philadelphia, a city in which many artists in fact—from Henry Tanner to Thomas Eakins—have felt less than appreciated. “I decided to do the French chandelier in a traditional shape, sort of a cone, wide at the top, narrow at the bottom, in order to relate to what they do naturally,” Muller



Journalist Thom Nickels’s books include Philadelphia Architecture, Tropic of Libra, and Out in History. His novel SPORE will be released in early 2010. He is the recipient of the 2005 Philadelphia AIA Lewis Mumford Architecture Journalism Award. thomnickels.blogspot. com 28






feature THE OSCARS ARE COMING! And though there will

For Your Consideration: The Ideal Oscar Slate

be many deserving nominees, there are bound to be some who don’t deserve to sit at the big kids’ table (that means you, Glenn Close). The Oscars need an ideal ballot, filled with films and performances that truly packed a wallop. Herewith is that ballot, primed and ready for Academy consideration: (* indicates winner)


Viola Davis The Help

*Charlotte Gainsbourg Melancholia

Carey Mulligan Shame

Shailene Woodley The Descendants

One certainly had his fair share of great Jessica Chastain performances to choose from this year, which could quite easily be dubbed The Year of Jessica Chastain. Can anyone remember another recent instance when a superb actor blew up so rapidly and so completely? In 2011, Chastain appeared in The Help, The Tree of Life, Coriolanus, Take Shelter, and The Debt, gracing each with a level of thespian

Though being campaigned for lead actress, Viola Davis in fact turns in a supporting performance in The Help, and winds up supporting the whole film with her surprisingly nuanced di-

Kirsten Dunst’s fine turn in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia may be the one netting all the good ink, but it’s von Trier muse Charlotte Gainsbourg who truly rattles you to the bone. Playing the level-headed sister to Dunst’s unstable depressive, Gainsbourg becomes the charac-

Matching beat for beat Michael Fassbender’s stunning performance as a sex addict, Carey Mulligan’s work in Shame (as Fassbender’s character’s troubled, nomadic sister) introduces a whole new facet of her ever-rising star―a desperate, unglamorous side that presents a challenge for which the actress is very much game. Her heated and subtext-ridden encounters with her co-star are just as riveting as her much-discussed rendi-

Previously known only for the ABC Family schmaltz-fest The Secret Life of the American Teenager, 20-year-old Shailene Woodley breaks out in a big way in The Descendants, playing the oldest daughter of George Clooney’s distraught dad in a matter that makes you feel as though you’re interrupting an

artistry that left scads of filmgoers asking, “Who IS that girl?” While her bubbly contribution to The Help ranks a close second, Chastain’s work in The Debt takes top placement, if only because the 30-year-old redhead so vividly outshines everything around her. Playing a spy who’s after a Nazi war criminal, she’s got beauty, instincts, and steely conviction to burn.

mension. Playing a maid whose scarred history prompts her to help a plucky white journalist pen a book about maids’ experiences, Davis deeply enriches the popular story with her believably world-weary face, giving her character a palpable past not so much with words, but expressions. It’s the kind of insightful work that allowed this goesdown-easy movie to transcend accusations of backhanded racism.

ter who loses it most tragically as the world comes to an end, unforgettably crumbling into despair―as so many of us would. Down to the last blinding moment, she is searingly, devastatingly great, embodying an upstanding, “normal” woman who just cannot accept that it is, once and for all, time to go.

tion of “New York, New York,” which she hauntingly croons in a strange, telling, and lingeringly gorgeous scene.

actual adolescent’s very real life. It’s not easy for a young actor to erase every ounce of truth-crippling self-consciousness, but Woodley does it, her work as a fiery 17-year-old as authentic in its bitchery as it is in its undeniable pain. The Descendants is a film oft-distinguished by characters’ private anguish, and Woodley makes that anguish feel so private it seems to be the actress’s own.

R. Kurt Osenlund is the managing editor of The House Next Door, the official blog of Slant Magazine. He is also the film critic for South Philly Review, and a contributing writer for ICON, Slant, Cineaste, Fandor and The Film Experience. He compiles his work and posts other goodies at his blog, Email at 30





Albert Brooks Drive

Robert Forster The Descendants

Bruce Greenwood Meek’s Cutoff

*Rhys Ifans Anonymous

Viggo Mortensen A Dangerous Method

Not long ago, if anyone were to have speculated what Albert Brooks’s next project would be, surely very few would have thought, “an eerily ruthless Hollywood gangster who nonchalantly bleeds people dry with straight razors and butcher knives.” But there you have it, and longtime awkward comedian Brooks is so suavely fantastic in

An underrated, underused actor who never disappoints, Robert Forster, like Shailene Woodley, plays a character in The Descendants who invites only the audience to share in his emotional hurt, and Forster makes that pain terribly real and intimate. As the largely unlikable father of George Clooney’s character’s comatose wife, Forster is tasked to make curmudgeonly

Largely hidden behind a mess of a beard and beneath a shadow-casting cowboy hat, Bruce Greenwood doesn’t have much room to make an impression as the titular, tunnel-visioned tour guide of Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff. So it’s something of a small miracle that he’s able to put forth such

Another funnyman given the chance to don a dramatic persona, Notting Hill star Rhys Ifans is superb in the deliciously overcooked, history-challenging costume drama Anonymous, which begs the question, “Was Shakespeare a fraud?” (call it a “Shakespiracy”). If indeed he was, the film purports that Ifans’s urbane duke was the real man behind the masterpieces, a cheeky, bril-

For director David Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen has played a killer without a past (A History of Violence) and a fearsome Russian gangster (Eastern Promises). In Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, he takes on Sigmund Freud, of all people, and instills in the psychology godfather a sense of dry humor nearly as strong as his sense of personal motivations. Never better at disappearing into a character, Mortensen gives what

his unnerving role that it may just be the one that comes to define his later career. Villains are always more effective (which is to say terrifying) when they exert their malice with very little effort, a sly technique to match their minimal human concern. Brooks makes good on his inspired casting (which is to say he’s very, very bad).

ignorance endearing, and he more than leaps the hurdle, bringing pathos to a man whose outwardly strong, but inwardly dying right along with his unrevivable daughter.

an indelible performance, shaping a striking figure of smallminded bigotry whose role in this volumes-speaking American saga keenly implies so many of his ilk, who are making pivotal, misguided decisions to this very day.

liant, and privately tormented aristocrat who handed off his work to a simpleton who hoarded all the credit. While it’s not a leading role, Ifans proves immensely capable of carrying a film, bringing a kind of metrosexual sophistication to an individual of inherent interest. The film is silly, but he’s seriously first-rate.

could deservedly be called the definitive Freud performance. He owns every seasoned observation, every contemplative puff of that omnipresent cigar.

> JANUARY 2012


32 31




Juliette Binoche Certified Copy

*Olivia Colman Tyrannosaur

Yoon Jeong-hee Poetry

Meryl Streep The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams My Week with Marilyn

Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy is likely the year’s most beguiling enigma, a stroll-on-thestreet, Tuscany-set tale featuring two people who one assumes to be strangers until they evolve to seem as though they’ve been a couple for years. A good deal of the film’s mystery is emitted from Juliette Binoche’s incredible face, which is often looking

The most revelatory performance of 2011 came from comedienne (!) Olivia Colman, whose wrenching turn as a religious shopkeeper in Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur would be gobbling up awards if more people actually saw the film. Both heartbreakingly fragile and secretly capable of fierce self-defense (a fact whose unveiling just about sends your jaw to the floor), Colman’s

In Poetry, a 66-year-old woman takes control of her life at a point when most would lose it: the moment she’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Gracefully and beautifully, she begins to champion the values of vitality and justice, and Yoon Jeonghee, in her first role since 1994, very quietly steals your heart

With her work in The Iron Lady, one of many films this year to be little more than a vessel for a powerhouse performance (see below), Meryl Streep all but grabs you by the shirt collar and pulls you at the screen. As Margaret Thatcher, the Oscar queen unleashes the fury and the sensitivity, too, fearlessly conveying what’s made so many regard Thatcher as an irre-

That irresistible shimmy. That infectious, familiar giggle. Those little-girl-lost eyes. Few things induced more movie bliss this year than Michelle Williams’s interpretation of Marilyn Monroe, a performance that creates as much a sense of discovery as it does nostalgia. Playing three versions of the same woman (private, downward-spiral Marilyn; public sexpot Marilyn; struggling-actor Marilyn performing in The Prince and the

directly at the camera as it shifts through a plethora of emotions (not to mention multiple languages). Becoming deeply enveloped in poignant exchanges with this man, whose rapport with her may just be an elaborate bit of playacting, Binoche’s character feels strikingly genuine, and the actress lets you happily take part in the illusion.



character gradually takes center stage in a movie ostensibly about a man, and to say the actress steals the show doesn’t even scratch the surface of her impact. Playing the perpetually bruised slave of an abusive husband, her desperate, climactic breakdown is the year’s single greatest actorly moment.


away in her empathetic, understated approach to the character. As a part of a class in which she tries to challenge herself creatively, poetry becomes the woman’s tool to access the depths of feeling she’d previous left uncultivated, and it only makes sense that Jeong-hee’s work is highly poetic, too.

deemable monster, and just as grippingly endowing her with admirable strength of character. What lingers is Streep’s capacity of convincing you of just about anything, a skill that reflects the scary breadth of not just one unflagging woman, but conservative politicians at large.

Showgirl), Williams uses her unendingly exciting talents to build an entire complex persona, who may be one of the most famous movie stars in history, but, thanks to one of the current best, is rendered only human.


*Michael Fassbender Shame

Hamish Linklater The Future

Gary Oldman Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Brad Pitt Moneyball

Michael Shannon Take Shelter

What Michael Fassbender brings to Shame certainly isn’t on the page. He injects his sex addict with an astounding supply of brewing disgust, insatiable desire, repressed rage, and crushing, accumulating despair. Where did it all come from? It’s amazing to watch if just for how completely it carries the material onto another lofty plane, a plane

Certainly the least talkedabout performance on this list, Hamish Linklater’s work in Miranda July’s The Future is nonetheless exemplary, an affectingly intuitive expression of July’s unique writing, and a true, yet idiosyncratic, take on thirtysomething uncertainty. One half of a couple who, in choosing to adopt a cat, proceed to face every fear they’ve ever had of

In tackling the iconic role of super-sleuth George Smiley, Gary Oldman wisely chose to play it extraordinarily cool, and in doing so has crafted one of the very best performances of his lengthy career. Through long stretches of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the grayed, bespectacled actor does not speak, mere-

Brad Pitt has never been better than he is in Moneyball, and that’s no hyperbole. As one of the great heartthrobs of our time, Pitt, like many such stars, has had to struggle to ditch the pretty-boy image and dig into a character’s skin. With visible wrinkles and a near-complete dismissal of vanity, he finally clinches his goal as Oakland A’s coach Billy Beane, a man whose

There is perhaps no other working actor better at playing mentally-plagued characters than Michael Shannon, who tops a list of lauded turns in films like Bug and Revolutionary Road with his work in Take Shelter, an ambiguously apocalyptic drama that casts him as a man whose biblical-plague visions begin to dismantle his life. Never do Shannon’s tactics of portraying the unhinged feel put-on; he’s always able to

somewhere out in actor-lovers’ heaven. The work is gaining press for Fassbender’s ample full-frontal nudity, but that’s hardly where the courage of this performance lies. It’s the actor’s willingness to take a swan dive into every last ugly trait of an addict that leaves you feeling spent.

turning the page, Linklater’s good-natured character becomes a suitable avatar for any man even close to his age, and his arduous tog of war with the moon (yes, the moon) is one of the great struggles of 2011 cinema.

ly hovering around each scene like a well-dressed watchdog. But when he does offer dialogue, you most surely listen, to that singular accent, that rich articulation, and that thrilling commitment to character that’s always been present in his work. At least two of Oldmans’s scenes boast bits of the year’s most unforgettable acting greatness, one of which sees him peer right out at you in an unbroken, unshakable monologue.

skin he wears so comfortably, one can’t help but smile at the effortless transformation. That said, this is far from just a skindeep portrayal, as Pitt taps directly into what makes this man tick―his demons, his hopes, his drive, and most importantly, his flaws.

muster something creepily believable, and here, he pairs it with the relevant anguish of a man whose all-too-familiar paranoia about what’s coming feeds a vicious cycle that threatens his livelihood. He’s the mentally frayed poster boy of the new American nightmare.

> JANUARY 2012







Tomas Alfredson Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Michel Hazanavicius The Artist

Miranda July The Future

Nicolas Winding Refn Drive

*Lars von Trier Melancholia

Nearly everyone will walk out of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy at least a little perplexed, as the film offers no handrail with which to guide you through its cryptic, twisty, cloak-and-dagger plot. But surely no one will be unclear about the film’s absolutely impeccable craftsmanship, which favors muted colors, gorgeous compositions, and perfectly mounted sequences that occasionally culminate with

Kudos to Michel Hazanavicius for valiantly pushing forward with his infectious beaut of a film, The Artist, which was most certainly met with a red light from multiple studios. His silent, black-and-white Hollywood homage is as much a current commentary as it is a romantic throwback, taking on the subject of technology’s merciless march in about as dreamy a way as one

No one working in film today has a vision for quirk like Miranda July, whose weird ways are always tied to a very real emotion, rather than a cheap attempt at random, look-at-me coolness. With The Future, a clearly personal project that serves as the natural follow-up to her inimitable debut, Me and

No filmmaker this year showed more complete, downto-the-last detail control of his production than Nicolas Winding Refn, whose crazy-tacky-cool thriller Drive has its director’s signature on everything, right down to the hotel wallpaper. The setpieces, camerawork, editing, pacing, polish, sound, and tone of this film are all immaculate, a feast of style that more than

No one can grip and shake a viewer the way Lars von Trier can. Regardless of what he feeds to the media in his second role as provocateur, the Danish master serves up art films with more shattering visceral power than many helmsmen can muster in a whole career. With his masterpiece Melancholia, von Trier channels his much-ballyhooed depression into a soul-scouring

throat-grabbing visual zingers (Alfredson also helmed the Swedish dazzler Let the Right One In). It’s practically impossible to imagine someone offering a finer visualization of John le Carré’s classic novel, as this one is a model of old-school style, editorial panache, smart suspense and cool restraint.

could imagine. The film unfolds delightfully, gaining momentum and universal appeal with each new charming sequence, and the humor is in perfect step with the knowing drama, which finds gravity in both intimacy and relevance. However transparently a crowd-pleaser, The Artist is highly unique―and utterly lovable.

You and Everyone We Know, July contemplates the mid-30s plight of...nearing 40, and in effect constructs a highly individual, yet very universal, tale that explores the resonant fear of what’s to come and the meaning of strong relationships. It’s an art-installation version of The Big Chill, warmed up for the young and modern culturati.

makes up for the film’s decided lack of substance (its relative hollowness is part of the point). This movie is catnip for formalists, and it should be added to the required-viewing pile for upand-coming filmmakers.

meditation on the end of the world, which, as a process as steadily invasive as personal melancholy, is rendered with spectacular, fall-to-your-knees awe. His worldview may not be the sunniest, but his ability to scan and exploit the dark corners of man’s condition make him an unexpected humanist.

BEST PICTURE The Artist A silent valentine to cinema that’s hilarious and romantic, and doubles as an industry barometer.

Drive A small masterpiece of craft that features a modern-day hero hidden beneath a shield of apathy.

The Descendants A wonderfully intimate look at family and grief that boasts one of the year’s best scripts.



Meek’s Cutoff A stark and brilliant western whose expansive canvas holds unspoken insights on race, gender, politics, maybe even the whole of American history.

Poetry A heartbreaking tale of taking control of one’s destiny at any age, and finding artistic inspiration in doing what’s right―for oneself and others.

The Future An artful meditation on young aging, monogamy, success, existentialism, romance and cats.



A Separation

The jewel in a year apocalyptic tales, which almost convinces you that, sometimes, when things spin so out of control, it’s better to just wipe the slate clean.

An astonishingly tight tale of inflammatory relationships, whose micro focus holds macro implications, depicting the massive effect of poor choices and the dehumanization of societal rules.

Take Shelter As potent a socio-economic allegory as any in recent memory, it thrives on both ambiguity and plainspoken drama, centering on a man living in a world where nothing, and everything, is wrong.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy A beautifully made spy thriller if ever there was one, and the cleverest of two in-vogue subgenres: the corporate thriller and the home-invasion nail-biter. ■






first sip


My Ten Wine Choices of 2011 Finds, Values and Favorites

HOTEL Modern Cuisine h Classic Comfort

food & wine

Corner of Swan & Main Lambertville, NJ 609-397-3552

THE FOLLOWING TEN WINES are wines I tasted during 2011. They are wines that stayed with me—that I remembered at the end of the year as being great tasting, a great value, or a really interesting new wine. WHITES 1. Lopez Heredia 2001 Rioja Gravonia Blanco Crianza: The marvel of Spanish wines is that you can still find this 10-year-old white Rioja in the market. And this is the current release from this top Rioja producer. It has developed beautifully. Made 100% from the Viura grape from old vines. Lingering essence of apple, pear, blood orange, almond, olive and minerals. Drink now or even age a few more years. ($25-28) 2. Castello de Volpaia Vermentino Prelius 2010: From the Maremma region of Tuscany, the winery/castle sits above the ancient Roman Lake Prelius. This 100% organically grown Vermentino is full-bodied with a tropical fruit nose and hints of pineapple, green apple over crisp acidity, making it fresh and elegant. A fine alternative to Pinot Grigio ($15-17). 3. Domaine de la Chaise Touraine Sauvignon 2010: The cradle of Sauvignon Blanc is France’s Loire Valley. While the grape has gained strong footholds in many other countries – New Zealand and Chile – the gold standard is the Loire wines. Sancerre is perhaps the finest of the bunch, but can be pricey. This Sauvignon Blanc from the Touraine area mimics the top bottles but is a real value. Grapefruit and minerals. ($12-14) 4. Pascal Doquet Grand Cru 1999, Blanc de Blancs: This small Grower Champagne is made from biodynamically grown Chardonnay grapes in the Le Mesnil-sur-Oger area of Champagne. It has a lively freshness, and a lemony nose, with apple and those lovely Champagne toast notes. Nice nips of pear, apple and lemon fill the mouth. Holds its own with better known brands at twice (or more) the price. ($80) REDS 5. Las Rocas Garnacha 2009: Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha (Grenache, with a bit of Syrah) hails from Spain’s Calatayud region. The Bodega San Alejandro co-operative buys grapes from hundreds of small producers. Vines are 10-35 years old. Bright red color

with aromas of raspberry, pepper, even licorice. Tastes of smoke and cherry. A real value. ($14) 6. Noble Hill: This small family-owned South African producer, is fairly new in the U.S. It comes from the Simonsberg-Paarl wine area. They are now sending several wines, from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to Syrah and a Cabernet-Merlot blend. The 2008 Syrah reminds me of wines from the Northern Rhone, where the grape originated. Its smoky, black cherry and stewed plum tastes are delightful, and the price is right. ($20) 7. Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico 2009: This has long been one of my favorite Chiantis, from the Tuscan village of Castellina. They are a traditional producer, using only local grapes that are farmed organically. It’s 95% Sangiovese and shows red cherry and spice, raspberry and flower and herb notes. It is plush and mouth-filling and can be drunk now or for another decade. ($24-39) 8. Vietti Barbera d’Alba Tre Vigne 2009: In Italy’s Piedmont region, Barbera was once the most famous wine before Barolo muscled it aside. You will find great Barberas from the towns of Asti, Alba and Monferrato. This one is red/purple in color with ripe cherry and vanilla scents and the classic Barbera subtle violet perfume over leather. Great food wine. ($21-25) 9. Three Thieves Bandit Merlot (in Tetra Paks): From Riesling and Pinot Grigio to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and even Sangria, these are top-of-the-box wines. The three California wine makers behind Bandit wines, Joel Gott, Charles Bieler and Roger Scommegna, are delivering some high-cred wines. The box holds a liter, or about one-third more than regular glass bottles. The Merlot from California is full of plum and blueberry with subtle cedar notes. Value! ($7-9) 10. Croft’s 10 Year Tawny Port: A perfect example of what a 10-year Tawny should be. It impressed all the judges at the wine competition at which I first had it. An outstanding wine that is a blend of different years, aged for an average of 10 years in oak casks, then bottled for immediate drinking. The soft fruit notes and nuttiness make this a luscious Tawny that will improve most cheeses, roasted nuts, or fruit tarts – or can be drunk on its own. ($30) ■

Patricia Savoie is a wine and culinary travel writer. She can be reached at 36







Since the days when Mango Moon animated the premises, I’ve liked the casual elegance of this tri-level space. The restaurant accommodates 70 diners. The ground floor features large café windows; the mezzanine, a fireplace nook and a full-service bar that affords a catbird’s eye-view to check out the Main Street scene. Starting with the patrolling GM David Howard, service is Manayunk, keeping-it-real friendly. Gemelli already seems comfortable with Manayunk, and vice versa. The two are as compatible as reunited twins. ■ Gemelli on Main, 4161 Main Street, Manayunk PA 19127 215-487-1230

food & wine

GEMELLI’S MOVE FROM NARBERTH to Manayunk buttresses the town’s dining cred. Not that Manayunk lacks dining cred. Philly’s unique riverside neighborhood hit the radar in foodie circles when Jake’s, the longtime iconic eatery set up shop years ago. Moon Kraputhong’s Chabaa and a few others further boosted the town’s stock as a dining destination. But as Manayunk gentrification accelerated, the town’s rep morphed. It became known, first and foremost, as a magnet for twenty-somethings. Bars, pubs and nightclubs popped up all over town dominating the landscape. They preempted the town’s identity, overshadowing and diminishing the dining scene. Many foodies wrote Manayunk off. Gemelli should help to reenlist any such dissidents. The force behind Gemelli is Clark Gilbert, a well-traveled, well-respected figure in the Philly foodie milieu. Gemelli means twins in Italian. Clark has two 13-year-old twins, thus explaining the choice of name. A kind of duality attaches to the fare, too, as Italian and French culinary traditions serve as culinary pillars for most of the menu. Gemelli’s fare is homey, soulful, and Old World that works into the menu some contemporary flair as well. Among the appetizers, lush butternut squash ($8), once a novelty but now a ubiquitous regional homage to autumn, distinguishes itself on a fruity boost from cinnamon apple coulis. Venison Tartare ($14) is a destination dish: a hefty rectangle of tender, tasty tartare, spring mix, the yolk of a quail egg on top and glistening shelled cockles in small pools of curry vinaigrette. A wall of crushed pistachios mounded in the middle of the plate separates tartare and cockles. Vitello Tonnato also taps tuna tartare, which is paired scrumptiously with sweetbreads prepared with delicate crispness. A tonnato sauce mellows the combo. Arancini, a traditional Sicilian dish, is balls of risotto with finely minced cod and chorizo, fried, capped with spring mix, and mustardy yellow aïoli with Provencal green olive tapenade tossing in a touch of eye-glam. Escargot prepared with a red wine sauce is a frequent special. The dish takes a detour from the garlicky-buttery rich French standard. Chopped parsley punctuates the deep red-brown color of the sauce and hazelnuts and shiitake mushrooms expand the texture and taste spectrum. The entrées are flush with Italian-French favorites. Long flat ribbons of pappardelle are the bed for braised rabbit with oven-dried tomato, shitake mushrooms and fennel. It’s stalwart fare that comes across remarkably light and subtle, owing to Chef Gilbert’s masterly treatment. The Gemelli ($20) is a generous mound of pure Italian culinary comfort. Finely diced lamb and gemelli pasta flavored with chick peas and Cerignola olives in aromatic Bolognese sauce. Six stuffed tubes of Cannelloni pasta stretch side-by-side across a large deep dish. The pasta harbors lobster and shrimp, sinfully rich braised pork belly, and butternut squash, with Nebrodini mushroom-and-lobster jus. Beef Cheeks beefed up on sweet Cippolini onions stretch over celery root risotto. Pork Chop paired with parmesan polenta exploits the white meat’s full potential. Desserts are house-made and tasty. A rustic cheesecake scores with ricotta cheese and crushed walnut crust tinged with rosemary and topped with grilled pineapple. An octet of round, sugarcoated doughnuts sided with bowls of chocolate and raspberry sauces is another decadent meal-ender. There are over 70 wines, most with a European provenance and most under $50. Ditto for craft beers, which afford an eclectic selection. And the bar is nicely stocked with spirits and specialty drinks. There’s an open bar from 5-7 each evening of the week, and a BYO Monday, when you can bring your own bottle with no corkage fee.


Please send comments and suggestions to JANUARY 2012





Sette Luna

food & wine

I FORGOT HOW COZY Sette Luna is inside. In warm weather, my first order of business is to settle into an outside berth. Outside the eatery’s entrance the sidewalk is aglow under a constellation of tiny white lights twinkling above a forest of table umbrellas. Soft jazz pipes through the air. The feel is part urban, part rustic, and completely enchanting. But charm doesn’t hibernate at Sette Luna’s—as recent visits confirmed. Thanks to Josh Palmer, a Sette Luna partner and restaurant manager, Sette Luna possesses the essentials of a bona fide Italian trattoria. In the open kitchen in the rear of the main dining room, a wood-burning oven filters woodsy hominess into air redolent of garlic. The waitstaff, as a few fellow reviewers have noted, is arguably the Valley’s most attractive. And the most pleasant. Yes, the trattoria trappings are present. But, most importantly, Sette Luna manages to capture the authenticity of the bona fide Old World trattoria, the elusive je ne sais quoi quality of the real deal trattoria that beguiles visitors to Italy. ICON has featured Sette Luna a number of times over the years as its popularity increased. Osso Buco, which wowed me on my first visit a half-dozen years ago, is still a dynamite dish. The braised veal still slides lush and languorous from the shank, accompanied by herb-infused white-wine sauce studded with diced tomato. Bistecca also packs the same sensory power it always did. NY Strip Steak remains fork tender with Gorgonzola butter melting on top. Wood-roasted Norwegian Salmon still emerges succulent and meaty from the wood oven paired deliciously with cannelloni beans marinated in lively spices. Pizza, de rigeur for any Italian trattoria, remains a primal foodie feast at Sette Luna. Crisply light crust lays down a crunchy platform for a pantry-full of toppings—starting with the granddaddy of pizza, the Margherita (which was “invented” in 1889 by Chef Raffaele Esposito in Naples for the Italian Queen Margherita). Josh’s Pizza (Palmer’s own brainchild) is composed of soppressata, egg, and black truffle. Terry’s Bianca boasts olive oil, garlic, spices, imported cheeses, sea salt, baby arugula, baby roma tomato, lemon, and pepper. For a modest fee ($1-$3), you can add toppings of your own choice or construct your own pizza. Befitting all good trattorias, Sette Luna has a slate of hefty Paninis that are available only for lunch. But what I like most at Sette Luna is the pasta. Agnolotti con Cinghiale (Wild boar and Sautéed Mushrooms) in a pancetta demiglace with ciabatta bread for sopping up every ounce of the sauce, which is too delicious to waste. Fettuccini con Funghi (Fettuccini with Mushrooms) harmonizes sausage and wild mushrooms in a marsala demiglace and cream with goat cheese. Orchietta with Crabmeat and Shrimp is rekindling cold-weather fare. Served in a light seafood sauce bolstered with pine nuts and winter squash, the dish scores on a cornucopia of flavors and textures. All Dolci (Desserts) are house-made. Mama’s Cheesecake meticulously follows the recipe Josh’s nonna created years ago. Her hefty slice of creamy Old World soul has always been a house favorite. Fluffy light Tiramisu enjoys a nice brandy finish. Please send comments and suggestions to




However, my favorite dessert has always been Terry’s White Chocolate Panna Cotta with a base of Amaretto cookie crumbles. The consistency of the panna cotta (the Italian crème brulée) is hearty and tasty with fresh fruit topping giving a perky finish. Sette Luna has a fairly extensive wine list, particularly for a moderately priced trattoria. Wine Spectator issued its Awards of Excellence to Sette Luna in 2009 and 2010. The eatery also copped a 2010 Decadent Dish Award for Best Wine Selection.

Since its inception, Sette Luna has enjoyed recognition across the board for food and wine. Numerous awards like Lehigh Valley Magazine’s Best Overall Restaurant and Lehigh Valley Style’s Best Italian Restaurant fill their honor board. Sette Luna has been popular from the get-go. After a few years of operation, they decided to expand into the adjacent building, adding a large wine bar and additional dining area. They're planning another expansion, this time at a different location entirely. The new venture will be located in Easton and no, it’s not Sette Luna II or Otto Luna (Eighth Moon—Sette Luna means Seventh Moon). The new place will be called Maxim’s 22 and it’s going to be a paean not to the Italian trattoria but to the classic French bistro. Given the attention to detail Josh has shown at Sette Luna, I anticipate he’ll succeed at the new place, inside and out. ■ Sette Luna, 219 Ferry Street, Easton, PA 610-253-8888.



food & wine





dave barry Mr. Fixit Strikes Again I WAS WALKING THROUGH my bedroom on a recent Sunday morning when I suddenly had a feeling that something was wrong. I’m not sure how I knew; perhaps it was a “sixth sense” I’ve developed after years of home ownership. Or perhaps it was the fact that there was water coming out of the ceiling. But whatever tipped me off, I knew that I had a potentially serious problem, so I did not waste time. Moving swiftly but without panic, I went into the living room and read the entire sports section of the newspaper, thus giving the problem a chance to go away by itself. This is one of the four recommended methods for dealing with a household problem, the other three being 1) wrapping the problem with duct tape; 2) spraying the problem with a product called “WD-40”; and 3) selling the home, and then telling the new owners, “Hey, it never did that when we owned it.” Unfortunately, when I went back to the bedroom, the ceiling was still dripping. My wife suggested that maybe there was water sitting on the roof and leaking into the house, but I knew, as an experienced guy of the male gender, that she was wrong. I knew that the problem was the plumbing. It’s time that we homeowners accepted the fact that plumbing is a bad idea. Many historians believe that the primary reason the




Roman Empire collapsed is that the Romans attempted to install plumbing in it. Suddenly, instead of being ruthless, all-conquering warriors, they became a bunch of guys scurrying around trying to repair leaking viaducts. (Tragically, the Romans did not have “WD-40.”) So I knew that our plumbing had broken, and I also knew why it had chosen that particular morning: We had a houseguest. Plumbing can sense the arrival of a houseguest, and it often responds by leaking or causing toilets to erupt like porcelain volcanoes. And, of course, our plumbing had waited until Sunday, which meant that the plumber would not come for at least a day, which meant that it was up to me, as a male, to climb up into the attic and do the manly thing that men have had to do as long as men have been men: shine a flashlight around. “Maybe you should check the roof first,” my wife suggested. “Maybe there’s water sitting up there.” She was fixated on this roof theory. Women can be like that. I had to explain to her, being as patient as possible considering that I had urgent guy tasks to perform, that she was being an idiot, because the problem was the plumbing. So I got my flashlight and climbed up a ladder into the attic, where I was able, thanks to my experience as a homeowner and my natural mechanical sense, to get pieces of insulation deep into my nose. I was not, however, able to locate the source of the leak, because my attic turned out to be a cramped, dark, dirty, mysterious place with pipes and wires running all over the place, and off in the distance—just out of flashlight reach, but I could definitely sense its presence—a tarantula the size of Mt. Everest. So I came briskly back down the ladder and told my wife that, to stop the plumbing from leaking, I was going to turn off all the water to the house until the plumber came. Speaking in clipped, efficient, manly sentences, I instructed her to fill containers with water and write a note for the houseguest telling him how to flush his toilet with a bucket. “Before we do all that,” she said, “Maybe you should check the. . . .” “Don’t tell me to check the roof!” I explained. “Stop talking about the roof! The problem is the plumbing!” Sometimes a man has to put his manly foot down. So while my wife wrote toilet-flushing instructions for our houseguest and prepared a small apologetic basket of fruit and cookies, I tried to locate the valve that would shut off all the water. This was very difficult, because our plumbing system turns out to have approximately one valve for every water molecule. We could start a roadside tourist attraction (“Turn here for the amazing valve forest”). The fascinating thing is, not one of these valves controls the flow of water to our particular house. I shut a number of them off, and nothing happened. So if, on a recent Sunday, the water stopped flowing in your home or store or nuclear power plant, that was probably my fault. Since I could not turn off our water, our ceiling continued to leak all Sunday night, so that by morning our bedroom carpet was a federally protected wetland habitat teeming with frogs, turtles, Mafia-hit victims, etc. So we were very happy when the plumber arrived. And if you are a student of literary foreshadowing, you know exactly what he did: He looked at the ceiling, went outside, got a ladder, climbed up on the roof and found some water sitting up there. It couldn’t drain, because there was a little place clogged by leaves. The plumber fixed it in maybe ten seconds. I could have easily fixed it myself at any time in the previous 24 hours if I had not been so busy repairing our plumbing. I wrote the check in a manly manner. So far, my wife, showing great self-restraint, has said, “I told you so” only about 450,000 times. Fine. She’s entitled. But don’t you start on me, OK? Not if you want me to turn your water back on. ■






the lavender dress I’VE KEPT MY LAVENDER maternity dress. It hangs in the back of an upstairs closet. Given where I am on the age spectrum—a card-carrying Medicare senior—it’s nutty. But through several moves, through ongoing purges of the household’s wretched excesses, I’ve still held on to that wonderful dress and all it meant. I got it when I was newly pregnant with our first child. Who knew it would be a daughter back in those “prehistoric” days when the gender of the unborn child was still a glorious mystery? I couldn’t wait to let the world know that I was “expecting” because I was so overjoyed, proud and frankly amazed that I was actually carrying a baby. “Nice dress,” several friends said. “Pretty color, too.” But so new was my pregnancy that nobody caught on that this trapeze-style dress was actually maternity garb. I was crushed. I’m one of those rare women who truly loved being pregnant, each time, three times. I loved my expanding belly, I loved knowing that every second of every minute of every day, a tiny miracle was growing inside of me. When I felt flutters, then stronger flutters, then unmistakable kicks, I wanted to cheer. I was terrified about labor and delivery—this was an era, mind you, when both seemed profound mysteries. No childbirth preparation classes. No websites or Internet advice. Just the tales of older relatives who often clucked sympathetically, patted our heads and promised we’d get through it. I did. Three times. Three little girls tumbled into our lives in fairly rapid succession. “Daughter.” The word tasted new on my lips the first time. Less the second time. And not a bit the third time. Now the test was motherhood itself. I’ve saved some of my jottings from those years of constant learning, worrying, yearning for sleep, wondering just how much I was messing up. They were years of giving thanks that I had gotten my three little hostages to fortune through another day.

Sally Friedman has been “living out loud” for over three decades. In addition to ICON, she contributes to the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, AARP Magazine and other national and regional publications. She is the mother of three fierce daughters, grandmother of seven exceptional grandchildren and the wife of retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge Victor Friedman. Email:






The euphoria of pregnancy certainly didn’t last through the sleepless nights, the colic, the cries of “She hit me first!” and the certainty that I would never make it through another spell of croup, stomach viruses or mysterious rashes. Then along came three horrendous adolescences back-to-back, and the slippery slope of high school. My husband and I still talk about the milestones that do not appear in the family album: Jill’s tantrum when a blizzard hit on the day she was to take her driving test; Amy’s insistence, at ten, that she needed an operation to remove the fat on her knees; Nancy’s one-year obsession with a lad who didn’t obsess back. But we survived it all, and suddenly, the three bedrooms that had once been full of daughteressence were empty. The silence seemed to crawl up the walls, and as each one left, I kept her bedroom door closed until I could bear to see the neatly-made bed and pristine order. How I missed the very chaos that I said I couldn’t wait to banish from my life. So many of my friends embraced the empty nest with gratitude—and redos of their kids bedrooms into wonderful home offices or dens. I preserved those rooms like some rare museum space. I never was good at endings. Motherhood was different from a distance. It took some getting used to. And just when I thought I’d finally adjusted to being a mother emeritus, along came grandmotherhood. The cycle began again, only this time it was richer, better and undeniably easier. This time, I knew the ropes, and even got asked some “how-to’s” by the very daughters who had dismissed me as hopelessly backward just a blink ago. Now, as I survey my life, I try to remember the sweep of history our little clan represents, the generations I followed, and those that follow me. I think of what I learned from my late mother, the tiny blonde woman I miss every day, and what my daughters may have learned from me. I remember the way my arms felt holding those baby girls, the way they filled my lap perfectly, the sweetness of them at bedtime, after baths and stories and that last drink of water to postpone the inevitable. I summon back proms, goodbyes on college campuses, weddings…. And as time leans against me, I still hang on to that lavender maternity dress in profound gratitude. It’s stands as a lovely reminder of the awesome title that it brought me, the one I bear more proudly than any other. Mother. What a lovely word. n











told me over lunch in a Northern Liberties Piazza eatery. “When they looked at it when I was finished they said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a chandelier.’ But it’s very chaotic what I did. The piece contains beautiful Cupids, beautiful bronze arms; it’s very complex, very French. The imperfect crystals they offered me were perfect. I had a bottomless pit of French crystals, so we embellished the whole thing.” Muller says he named the chandelier after the owner’s mother, who told him afterward that she was excited about seeing her past revived and brought into a whole new realm. For a Boulder, Colorado couple he was asked to do his take on a traditional chandelier, but when he showed them the piece he was told that the chandelier “wasn’t girlie enough.” At the time, Muller scratched his head and asked himself, “What’s girlie?” Perhaps in a perverse way it was the legacy of Boulder’s Jon Benet Ramsey that inspired him to apply a quick fix—the addition of “some draped glitzy things”—that eventually won the approval of the couple. “Oh Yeah, that’s much better,” they told him. The art world has caught on to the Muller mystique. Hilary Jay, of the Design Center at Philadelphia University, notes that Muller’s work reaches beyond aesthetic appreciation, “to become culturally reflective and intellectually inspiring. He keeps good company today—contemporary artists and designers such as lighting designer Ingo Maurer, the Dutch collective droog, Marcel Wanders, Philippe Starck, all who create works that conjure a dream and a wink.” “In a way that architect Frank Gehry has reshaped our expectations of buildings, Muller has exploded notions of the look and function of lighting….Suddenly lamps are fun. And space is transformed,” writes Museum of Modern Art (former) Director of Education, Philip Yenawine. In Bahdeebahdu, I spotted a number of pieces waiting for the right buyer. Muller, who produces about 20 chandeliers a year, works during downtime cycles when sales are low, though whatever he makes is eventually sold. “I’m always prepared for downtime,” he says. “Downtime is the time when I make things without a request. A lot of the pieces in my studio are pieces I made just because no one was asking me. I have so much stuff that I collect. And I am always adding things. Eventually someone needs it for whatever reason.” His “Marcel du Lamp,” a chandelier based on themes by Duchamp, hung in the studio for months before being spotted by one of the guests at a wedding (the Bahdeebahdu space can be rented out for private functions). Muller, in fact, had given up trying to sell the piece and had already decided that he was going to keep it when the wedding guest put in his bid. Shortly after this another buyer came forward but it was too late. Muller, who has learned to work with this sort of ebb and flow, says, “In my old age I’ve learned to be patient—things take the time they take; just because you can imagine them now, you also have to give things the life that they need to evolve.” The Hung like a Horse Chandelier demonstrates just that. Anything but discreet, it is half Robert Mapplethorpe, half Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse. “Cute” is a word a group of modern Catholic nuns used to describe it. “The nuns became my friends. There’s a homeless shelter in the neighborhood that we’ve taken on as a project. We’ve done a few events here to raise money for the shelter that the nuns started,” Muller told me, while I tried imagining the good sisters, some in habits and some in chic stretch pantsuits, inspecting the horse’s thick neon-lit projectile.




Bahdeebahdu’s fundraising events for the shelter became so popular that they were moved to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where at one party there was a concurrent show of “provocative nudes.” Muller says that his initial reaction was to worry how the nuns would process this but, thanks perhaps to a path having already been cleared by the Art World’s Sister Wendy, he adds that “the nuns were just fine.” Born in the Bronx to Eastern European Jewish parents, Muller recalls his childhood as a sort of Frederico Fellini-driven “museum in the streets,” full of color, noise and activity. “My parents died in 1976, just six months apart. They had a dry cleaning business so we always had a storefront. I have an estranged sister a few years older than me. I tried to interest her in me, but that didn’t work. So you go and make your own family,” he said. From the Bronx he went to the Hartford Art School and then he traveled to the island of Paros in Greece where he enrolled in The Aegean School of Fine Arts. On the island he met a photographer from Philadelphia who invited him to come to the city and enroll in the Philadelphia College of Art. After this he got involved in documentary filmmaking and the world of dance, leaving Philadelphia often to travel and live in San Francisco, New York, and Berlin. Still, he always managed to find his way back to the Quaker City as if under the spell of a dragging vortex. “I’ve been working here so long, you know, but the city ignores you—in spite of this I go about my business,” he says. Not to worry: As long as you’re known in Paris, who cares about Terry Gross, Marty Moss-Coan and Radio Times, or winning a Best of Philly award? In 2006, The New York Times featured Muller and his interior designer partner, Rj Thornburg, in a piece about the couple’s Pocono Mountain retreat, a three-bedroom, 1,800-square-foot house on three acres of hills, fields and woods. Muller told The Times: “In the country, we take a lot of walks. There’s space to breathe, and plenty of room for imagining our dreams and goals… .” The couple currently divides their time between the studio and the traditional farmhouse setting. In the studio there is a fully equipped kitchen and enough space for living accommodations although the average customer would never suspect that the studio also doubles as a home away from home. Muller and Thornburg met 13 years ago through interior designer Floss Barber. Barber was in Muller’s studio and suggested he come along to a luncheon interview. “You might be interested in meeting him,” she said. Muller took the bait and says he wound up having appetizers, a drink and dinner. “I stayed and stayed and stayed. I felt this rapport with him.” Thornburg, as it turns out, got the job with Barber and worked with her for about a year before opening his own shop across the street from Muller’s old studio in Old City. The two later decided to go into business together and opened a studio on Cherry Street, where they sold chandeliers and furniture by designers. Wink, a 135-page art book on Muller’s work put together by the artist’s friends, is a lavish work of art in the style of Taschen Books. “I invited people to write essays about me,” Muller says. The result is an all-inclusive look at every aspect of the artist’s life. Wink includes photo kaldeiscopes of Muller’s work, and personal shots of him and Thornburg at home in the Poconos. Childhood photos of Muller—his big ears and proud pompadour reminiscent of Howdy Doody—show up in the middle section. ■

about life


LOVE CAN BE THE softest and sweetest experience in life, and also be powerful, impactful and uplifting. The beauty, inspiration, hope and power of love are all tools at your disposal to promote healthy and deeply fulfilling relational experiences. Women have become more empowered in society over time, although they still do not make the same salaries as men in most fields. Women have become more empowered in relationships but have not yet reached parity in relational power with men. In most relationships, the person who makes the most money is the primary decision-maker; the notable exception are lesbian relationships. This means men still hold a position of power based upon earnings. Making more money is hardly a good criteria for establishing the balance of power between two people. Relational power unchecked and unbalanced leads to all sorts of difficulties for both parties in a relationship. One way to correct these power imbalances is for women to learn how to become relationally empowered and to use what power they have in a loving, judicious and growth-promoting fashion. Women often tell of wanting or needing more of this or less of that from their male partners. While less developed men tend to view these wants and needs as frivolous, irrational or oversensitive, more developed men understand that the needs and wants of their female partners are just as true and valid as their own wants and needs. It’s always best for women to be with the kind of men who already understand and value them with deep love and validation. Unfortunately, this kind of man is not very common. Fortunately, men, in general, are wired to please. Less developed men can learn to be better partners out of their love for and wish to please women. The second best kind of man for a woman to be with is a man who wants to grow and is open to listening deeply. When these men learn how to make their partners happier they develop more confidence, emotional integrity and the ability to be vastly more intimate. If your man is unwilling to grow, your challenge will be greater, and perhaps impossible. Learning to harness the power of love between two people to promote growth in a couple is the best solution to the challenges and shortcomings of a relationship. Relational growth is not always pretty and is almost never an easy thing to accomplish. You must have a clear vision of what you want more of—communication, love, commitment—and what you want less of—controlling, anger, distance. Like any goals you wish to achieve, it’s worth spending some time thinking and writing them down. Pick no more than three for starters, as you will need to limit your focus so you can make significant change. The next thing to do is to figure out what you will do or say

that will improve your relationship. You will not benefit from nagging, using the cold shoulder, pleading or begging. These approaches stem from anger and fear are are generally ineffective ways to promote positive growth and change. “I’ve promised myself that I need to be very strong about my needs in this relationship and I would love your help and support,” is a nice way to start the process with your partner. More developed men will respond to this request with empathy, love and support. Less developed men will roll their eyes, change the subject or invalidate these kinds of words. This helps to determine the level of resistance you will face in this process. A man who is resistant to the idea of improving or deepening a relationship is not a bad man, he is simply a less developed man. Be careful not to make excuses for resistance, because enabling poor behavior or shallow thinking will not help you or your partner. A resistant man is most often a man who is afraid. Fear is a response to a threat, real or perceived. The general reaction to fear in men is deny the vulnerability they experience when afraid and engage a defensive response. Common defensive responses include: invalidating your attempt to engage him in deepening the relationship; making a sarcastic comment; avoiding by changing the subject or being non-responsive; starting an argument; saying something like, “that’s just the way I am” or “don’t try to change me.” Don’t be distracted by defensive responses. Try to remember that the defenses are a fearful response. There are no shortcuts in dealing with fear. We all have to face our fears little by little or we will not be able to grow. The fear may be based on feeling inadequate, not deserving of your love, or afraid that he will not be able to make you happy. Ultimately the fear is about the potential of losing you. A man who is defensive and therefore afraid is a man who is reacting and responding to you in a profound way. If your man is less developed or truly emotionally indifferent to you there may be very little or nothing you can do without professional help. There are all kinds of books, tapes, program and trained relational therapists who can be of excellent service to you in creating positive change. I would currently suggest the book, Sealing the Deal, by my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Diana Kirschner. This is an extraordinarily helpful book loaded with tips, exercises and wisdom to help improve your relationship. Many men resist the idea of therapy and will shut down at any mention of it. One example of a non-therapy approach to assist you is “love mentoring,” which is dedicated to helping you and your man create the most positive, committed and deeply fulfilling relationship possible. I personally assist in the training and supervision of Love Mentors and can speak to their profound abilities and effectiveness in helping with these kinds of issues. Love Mentors are the embodiment of the values, techniques and principles espoused by Dr. Diana Kirschner in her two best selling books on the subject of love and relationships. Be loving. Be strong. Be wise—and get the support you need to have a happier and more loving relationship. ■

For Women Only:

How to use tough love to improve your relationship

Jim Delpino is a psychotherapist in private practice for over 30 years. Email (215) 364-0139.




classical notebook Violin ★★★★★ Leonard Schreiber, violin London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dirk Brossé High Gate Music

“BELGIUM, A TINY LITTLE country world renowned for its chocolates, waffles, beers and fries...but it also has a lot to be proud of culturally, more specifically, in the field of classical music.” —Leonard Schreiber. This brand new album shares this wonderful musical heritage by a selection of the finest Belgian music ranging from the Romantic era until the present day, performed by acclaimed violinist Leonard Schreiber accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dirk Brossé. The four chosen composers for this amazing recording are Henri Vieuxtemps, César Franck, Eugène Ysaÿe and Dirk Brossé. Despite all of them being from the same country, each of these four masters does have a unique voice. “Together, they describe what the Belgian violin school and music stands for,” said Leonard Schreiber.

take on this exciting new challenge. All of the notes remained the same, but the piece was turned into a masterwork. Echoes of silent Voices After Leonard told Dirk the incredible story of his grandparents’ survival of the Auschwitz concentration camps, Dirk wrote a very moving piece of music. It is, of course, a very emotional and intense work, but nevertheless hope is always present. Dirk Brossé dedicated his composition to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

A forgotten Concerto? After months of research in libraries around the world, Leonard Schreiber managed to get hold of the original manuscript of Vieuxtemps’s Concerto in F sharp minor. This practically unknown concerto—which is literally never played in concerts nowadays—is a wonderful work, full of lyricism and virtuosity, all with a slightly operatic flavor. Can a sonata become a work for violin and orchestra or a Sinfonia Concertante? César Franck’s Sonata in A major is one of the most popular sonatas for violin and piano. Leonard Schreiber has always felt that this piece has so much grandeur that it almost sounds like a symphony for two. Why not dare to write an orchestral transcription where all the individual colors and timbres of a large-scale symphony orchestra could propel the piece into a new dimension of expression? Half joking, Leonard suggested his crazy idea to his great friend and talented composer Dirk Brossé. Dirk took the idea very seriously and decided to

Peter H. Gistelinck is the Executive Director of The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Prior to joining the Orchestra, he was the Director of Sales and Marketing and Co-Artistic Director for the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra and Flemish Radio Choir in Belgium. Mr. Gistelinck is a member of the Kimmel Center Resident Advisory Committee, The Recording Academy, American Film Institute, Musical Fund Society, Philadelphia Arts and Business Council, International Academy of Jazz and International Society for the Performing Arts.




Violinist Leonard Schreiber.

Rêve d‘enfant “A child’s dream” or perhaps an adult, dreaming like a child? Here, too, you will discover a new version for violin and orchestra based on an old favorite piano/violin: a little gem, written by the legendary composer and violinist Eugène Ysaÿe and re-orchestrated by Dirk Brossé. And what about the composers? Belgian violinist, composer and teacher Henri Vieuxtemps played a significant role in the history of violin music, and his compositions have remained staples of the violinist’s repertoire to the present day. He was born on February 17, 1820 in the Belgian town of

Verviers and demonstrated his musical interest and talent well before his third birthday. His father, an amateur musician, gave him his first instruction. By the time he was five, Vieuxtemps could read music fluently. His father then took him to study violin with Lecloux-Dejonc, his lessons being paid for by a local sponsor. He gave his first public performance when he was six and within two years had performed a Rode concerto to great acclaim, as well as an equally well-received Kreutzer double violin concerto, which he performed with his teacher. In 1838 Henri Vieuxtemps toured Russia, where he competed successfully with the famous virtuosos Karol Lipinski and Ole Bull. It was there that he wrote his first major compositions, the Violin concerto No. 1, Op. 10 and Fantasia in A minor, thereby demonstrating his competence as a composer. Later, these compositions were performed in Brussels and Paris to appreciative audiences and Vieuxtemps became established, not only as a performer, but also as a talented and original composer. By the age of twenty-five he was a member of the Music Academy in Brussels and was a recognized leader of the Franco-Belgian violin school. After triumphant concert tours of Europe and America, Vieuxtemps accepted an invitation to Russia and signed a ten-year contract to work there. In 1845 he went to St Petersburg with his wife, the pianist Josephine Eder. By the time they arrived, Russian music had developed a distinct voice and was flourishing. Russian music had a great influence on Vieuxtemps, inspiring him to write numerous compositions based upon Russian themes. While there, he also performed the compositions of classical composers to great acclaim, including Beethoven’s difficult Violin Concerto. In 1852, before the expiration of his contract, Vieuxtemps left Russia and resumed his worldwide concert touring. His intensive concert activity continued for twenty more years. In between tours, he spent his time either in Paris or in his villa in Frankfurt-am-Main. These years were the time of Vieuxtemps’s greatest achievements. Unlike many other virtuosos of that time, who concentrated mainly on performing brilliant showpieces, Vieuxtemps devoted a significant part of his programmes to the classical repertoire. During these years, he also wrote many of his best compositions: his violin concerto n°5, Fantasia Appassionata, Ballade and Polonaise, for instance. In 1871 Vieuxtemps became a professor at the Brussels Conservatoire, where Eugène Ysaÿe was one of his students. In 1873, while still vital and full of energy, he suffered a stroke and became partially paralysed. Despite a temporary recovery, he left the Conservatoire forever and spent his last years in Paris and Mustapha, Algeria. He continued to compose until the end of his life, but this latter period was not very fruitful. He died on June 6th 1881 and his remains were brought to Verviers, where a monument was erected in his honor in 1898. Vieuxtemps was the composer of numerous works. His more than 60 opus numbers include seven violin concertos, two cello concertos, fantasias for violin and orchestra, an

PETER H. GISTELINCK Ratings: ★=skip it; ★★=mediocre; ★★★=good; ★★★★=excellent; ★★★★★=classic

orchestral overture, sonatas, caprices, cadenzas and many variations on various themes. Vieuxtemps’s Concerto No. 2 in F Sharp Minor sounds almost like an imitation of Paganini’s Second Concerto. Nevertheless, the original musical imagination and the bright talent of the young Vieuxtemps shine through. The first movement, Allegro, begins with a heroic orchestral introduction, which is followed by an expressive melody, reappearing in the solo violin part as second subject. The soloist performs a romantic virtuoso fantasy, in which melodic sections alternate with a variety of brilliant technical displays. The second movement, Andante, is a three-part romance with a central section that utilises a solemn choral sonority. The final movement, Allegro, is a dancing Rondo reminiscent of the Campanella of Paganini’s Second Concerto. The Hungarian characteristics of this movement suggest the compositional style of Ernst. The ornamental cadenza, located in the finale instead of in the expected first movement, shows a young composer’s quest for a new form. César Franck was born in Liège, Belgium, on December 10th 1822. His father had ambitions for him to become a concert pianist and so he duly studied at the conservatoire in Liège, before moving on to the Paris Conservatoire in 1837. After leaving the Paris Conservatoire in 1842 he briefly returned to Belgium, but he went back to Paris in 1844 and remained there for the rest of his life. Franck was a fine pianist, who made concert tours in his early years, but it was from the organ that he actually made his living. He became organist at SainteClotilde in 1858 and remained in this post until his death. From 1872 until his death he was also organ professor at the Paris Conservatoire. His pupils included Vincent d’Indy, Ernest Chausson and Henri Duparc. As an organist Franck was particularly noted for his improvisation skills. And, on the basis of only twelve major organ works, he is considered by many to be the greatest organ composer after J. S. Bach. Many of Franck’s works employ cyclic form (the use of one theme in more than one movement). His music is often contrapuntally complex, using a harmonic language that is firmly Romantic, showing some influence from Richard Wagner. His fame rests largely on a small number of compositions written in his later years, particularly on his Symphony in D minor (1886-88), Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra (1885), Prelude, Choral and Fugue for piano solo (1884) and Sonata in A major for violin and piano (1886). Franck’s last work (and one of his greatest) is his Choral No. 3, in A minor. Franck died in 1890 and was interred in Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. Franck composed his Violin Sonata in A major in 1886 when was 63. It is his only violin sonata. He wrote it as a wedding gift for Eugène Ysaÿe, and it went on to become a resound-ing success. Ysaÿe played it in Brussels and Paris, and took it on tour, often with his brother Theo Ysaÿe at the piano. His championing of the Sonata

contributed to the public recogni-tion of Franck as a major composerThe work is cyclic in nature, with all the movements sharing common thematic threads; themes from one movement reappear in subsequent movements, but usually transformedThe Sonata is probably Franck’s most popular work. It regularly appears on concert programmes and in recordings and is in the core repertoire of all major violinists.

this masterpiece always prevails. Eugène Ysaÿe was born in Liège, Belgium, on July 16, 1858. He began violin lessons at the age of four, with his father, and later studied under Rodolphe Massart, Henryk Wieniawski, and Henri Vieuxtemps. After his graduation, Ysaÿe became the principal violinist of the Benjamin Bilse beer-hall orchestra, which later developed into the Berlin Philharmonic. Many musicians of note

Composer/conductor Dirk Brossé in Ghent, Belgium.

Franck’s Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano is one of the true milestones in the violin repertoire. Rewriting the whole work for violin and orchestra proved to be a less than obvious undertaking. Our sense of responsibility towards the composer and towards the piece was only enhanced by the feeling that music history was watching our every move. This, however, was not the first time that a composition had been “rewritten” in a similar fashion. Ravel transformed Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition into a vibrant orchestral piece and—somewhat closer to home—Luc Brewaeys did the same for some of Debussy’s music. Although there were no changes in the actual notes, the orchestral version of the piece gets a whole new sound and content, because the position of the violin part changes drastically. If a sonata is an intimate conversation between two equal partners, then the orchestral version is surely more like a heroic battle of one against all. No matter which version you prefer; the subtle drama and expressiveness of

and influence regularly came to hear this orchestra—and Ysaÿe in particular—among them, Joseph Joachim, Franz Liszt, Clara Schumann and Anton Rubinstein, who asked that Ysaÿe be released from his contract to accompany him on tour. When Ysaÿe was twenty-seven years old, he was recommended as a soloist for one of the Concerts Colonne in Paris. This was the start of his astonishing success as a concert artist. A year later, Ysaÿe was given a professorship at the Brussels Conservatoire in his native Belgium. This began his career in teaching, which remained one of his chief occupations, even after he left the Conservatoire in 1898 and continued into his later years. Among his best-known pupils are Josef Gingold, William Primrose, Louis Persinger, Alberto Bachmann, and Mathieu Crickboom. During his tenure as professor at the Conservatoire, Ysaÿe continued to tour an ever-

> JANUARY 2012


58 47

singer /songwriter John Doe ★★★1/2 Keeper Yep Roc John Doe, founding member of X, is a man secure in his own skin on Keeper, a solo album whose quality lives up to its title. After the confrontational style of the early X albums, Doe exudes a positive outlook on many of the album’s dozen tracks. “Don’t Forget How Much I Love You” is an open-hearted declaration by a singer unafraid to reveal his emotions with Cindy Wasserman helping on vocals. “Never Enough” presents a sharp-eyed look at hoarders and extremists set to a beat that would be at home on a Rolling Stones album. “Moonbeams” offers a jazzy interlude with Doe in crooner mode and showcases his vulnerable tenor. Doe has pointed to “Sweetheart” as a tune where “he figured out how to write a love song where the people actually get loved” and he delivers a confident vocal. He still has a knack John Doe. for the uptempo songs as demonstrated on the rollicking “Walking Out the Door” and the spirited “Jump into My Arms.” Neil Diamond ★★★1/2 The Very Best of Neil Diamond Columbia/Legacy Robbie Robertson of The Band once observed that Neil Diamond was so successful because he filled the musical void between Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. It’s a theory that holds up after listening to The Very Best of Neil Diamond. The generous anthology—the 23 songs clock in at more than 78 minutes—traces his career from “Cherry Cherry” in 1966 to “Pretty Amazing Grace” in 2008. Unlike Sinatra and Presley, Diamond has been a first-rate songwriter and that has been the foundation for his success. He could move from the pure pop of “I’m a Believer,” a hit for the Monkees, to the gospel-styled rock of “Brother Love’s Traveling Salva- 48



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

tion Show” to the dramatic balladry of “Solitary Man.” Diamond also had an ear for a melody and hummable chorus that made a staple on AM radio with such hits as “Sweet Caroline” and “Song Sung Blue.” Diamond also had a knack for picking collaborators, be it Barbra Streisand on “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” or Rick Rubin who guided the singer’s 21st century resurgence with “Hell Yeah.” Craig Bickhardt ★★★ Live at Sellersville Theater Stone Barn Records When Craig Bickhardt decided to record a live album, he didn’t have to travel far. The Delaware County resident opted for the Sellersville Theater and its excellent acoustics. Backed by a trio of drummer/percussionist Tommy Geddes, multi-instrumentalist Tom Hampton and cellist Michael G. Ronstadt, Bickhardt runs through 11 songs that demonstrate his songwriting skills and closes with an effective version of Richard Thompson’s “From Galway to Graceland.” “Donald and June” recounts a couple’s ups and down in raising a family that confirms John Lennon’s observation that life is what happens when you’re making other plans. “The Real Game” is a celebration of sandlot baseball, a version of the national pastime in its purest form. Bickhardt has an easygoing vocal Craig Bickhardt. style that draws the listener in through the craftsmanship of his songs. “Life with the Sound Turned Down” is a reminder of the value of silence. “Crazy Nightingale,” a new song, is Bickhardt’s bittersweet take on the life and death of singer Amy Whitehouse. Good Lovelies ★★★1/2 Let The Rain Fall Six Shooter Records “Let the rain fall, soak us to the bone, nothing will sink our smiles,” the Good Lovelies sing on “Made for Rain.” It’s a lyric that sums up their upbeat attitude that’s pervasive throughout the 13 songs on Let The Rain Fall. The Canadian trio—made up of Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough and Sue Passmore—serve up the close harmonies that evoke comparisons to the Roches and the offbeat quirkiness that recalls the Ditty Bops. Their songs celebrate the joys of wanderlust and the open road that are the musician’s lifestyle (“Old

The Good Lovelies.


Asswertive: responding with assertive certitude about every issue despite having swerved, sometimes frequently, from the latest assertive position.

Highway”) and the attractions of domestic life (“Kiss Me in the Kitchen”). The buoyant “Oh, What a Thing” finds the threesome perfectly executing a set of intricate harmonies while the rhythmic “Crabbuckit” ventures into jazz with a backing of piano, bass and drums. Like fellow Canadians Kate and Anna McGarrigle, the Good Lovelies don’t confine their music to one style, serving up a blend of folk, pop, country and other rootsy styles. The Who ★★★★ Quadrophenia: Director’s Cut Super-deluxe limited edition box set Plodder/Universal Quadrophenia, the Who’s two-LP concept album from 1973 that was inspired by the British mod movement of the 1960s, was a landmark achievement for the band in terms of songwriting and performance. Pete Townshend, the group’s guitarist and chief songwriter, has overseen a reissue that is topnotch in its sound and quality. The remastering of the original album underscores the power of such songs as “The Real Me” and “The Punk and the Godfather” The band’s ensemble

Renewtable Energy: Energy whose depletion would be a blessing because both its acquisition and use poisons the environment. Mittionary: a unique type of missionary who, to selflessly answer his calling to convert third-world France, sacrifices by forsaking his pampered life in his various US mansions and living ascetically in a 5-star Parisian hotel. Peer-rogueys: Republic candidates who go all rogue-y against their peers to further their own self-centered agendas, thrashing Saint Reagan’s commandment: “Thou shalt not trash a Republic peer.” No dumplings they. Hermanphrodite: an organism in which both pro-choice and pro-life convictions co-exist. Named to honor the origin of the species, Herman Cain. Opminions: the flawed, dittoed opinions of dittohead minions. Pokemonarch: a man who envisions a Presidency giving unlimited, unquestioned, and unchecked power to a man who draws his wisdom and intellectual inspiration from Pokemon.


Disadventaged: those whose dislike and dread of the coming of Christmas disadvantages them each Advent season. The Who.

playing comes to the forefront on “5:15” and “Love Reign O’er Me.” Bassist John Entwistle’s exemplary horn work and Townshend’s integration of synthesizer and his use of recurring musical themes raised this album to another level. The real treat of this box set is the chance to hear 25 demos Townshend made in writing Quadrophenia. Spread over two CDs, the songs are the musical equivalent of reading the first draft of a novel and serve as an alternative version of the album. Townshend dropped some songs (“Joker James” and “Get Inside”) and reworked others lyrically (“The Real Me” and “Is It in My Head”). The collection also includes an illuminating, 13,000-word essay and song commentary by Townshend on the development of Quadrophenia that comes in a beautifully designed 100-page hardbound book filled with new photographs and the original album’s artwork. ■

Creeptic: chilling, creepy political commercials that carry an impenetrably cryptic message, popularized by Herman Cain. Calmumny: calumnious remarks delivered with the resolute, frightening calm of a serial liar. Etermity: what Obama’s 4-year term must feel like to him.




keresman on disc Houston Person ★★★★ So Nice HighNote Is there such a thing as being too good? Can excellence become merely routine? Take Houston Person, a tenor sax heavyweight in the soulful, bluesy tradition of Gene Ammons, Ben Webster, and Illinois Jacquet. There are over 40 albums with Person as the headliner and at 77 he still has il giusto stuff. So Nice continues the pattern—a dozen standards, a band that fits like a glove. This time out, Person (who produced) ups the ante a bit, with trumpeter Warren Vaché, trombonist Mark Patterson, and guitarist Howard Alden enriching half the tunes. But the focus is Person—that brawny yet velvety-smooth tone flows from the speakers like the aural equivalent of molten Swiss chocolate. There’s relaxed, assured swing throughout, but you likely Houston Person. Photo: John Abbott. knew that already. Plan ahead—include So Nice in your Valentine’s Attack coup de grace.

(and his “student” Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull—from where’d you think Ian A got it?). Baikida Carroll’s trumpet is torrid, drummer Philip Wilson (a former member of the Butterfield Blues Band) crackles, and Abdul Wadud utilizes his cello (that’s right) as a bass, a back-country fiddle, and as, finally, a cello. The title song has a loping, snaking blues-groove that just won’t quit, grounding the sardonic, lacerating solos. OBTAIN before it disappears again—essential. / The Habit ★★★1/2 Lincoln Has Won Reel to Reel The Habit is a Brooklyn outfit that evokes an indie rock era that didn’t have a proper handle ‘til it was too late. 1980s and early ‘90s Bands such as the Del-Lords, Blood on the Saddle, Charlie Picket & the Eggs, and the bands on NY’s Diesel Only label were called…well, there’s the rub. Nowadays they’d be called Americana or Alternative

Julius Hemphill ★★★★★ Dogon A.D. International Phonograph Inc. My fellow Americans, we are again fortunate to be in the presence of capital-G Greatness. A long out-of-print jazz classic has been lovingly restored: The album Dogon A.D., by the late saxophonist/composer Julius Hemphill, originally released in 1972 and given wide release in 1977, sees its CD debut in beautiful gatefold packaging. Hemphill was best known as one-fourth the original lineup of the renowned World Saxophone Quartet, but he also had a career as a leader—alas, much of that music is currently unavailable. Like the WSQ, Hemphill was/is considered in jazz’s avant-garde wing, but Hemphill was one of the first in the “out” zone to bridge present/future with jazz’s past and its blues, gospel, and African roots. Dogon A.D. isn’t music to accompany dinner chatter—it’s a heady, visceral, and joyous experience. As “edgy”-free as the playing is, it never leaves the listener in the lurch—“Rites” swings as mightily as any of the swinging-est of Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, and Charlie Mingus. Hemphill’s alto is tart, mercurial, and drenched in the richest hues of the blues; instead of fury or self-involved abstraction, Dogon A.D. = exhilarating. The lilting “The Painter” oozes folk-infused (and “folk” in the widest possible sense) grace, echoing traditional African folk music, the droll cool of the Beats, and the lyrical flights of Rahsaan Roland Kirk




The Habit.

Country, but back-when they lacked a proper “niche” to be nurtured within. The Habit mix raucous, ruff ‘n’ tumble rock & roll (think the Rolling Stones circa Beggars Banquet, Replacements) with country- and folk-influenced rock (Dylan in his rowdier moods, The Knitters) with male/female vocal alternately plaintive (the Phil Ochs-meetsthe Clash “War Is Done”) and gallantly raspy (the gospel-derived “Shout Together”). This lot won’t win awards for uniqueness, but the Habit play and sing with plenty of heart (and Siobhan Glennon has a lovely voice) and that rates high in my book. The Jayhawks ★★★ Mockingbird Time Rounder While some bands mix varying amounts of country and folk with rock & roll, the Jayhawks have been going for a sound between rock, country, and folk styles. While evoking classic American bands Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Everly Brothers, and The

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

Band (and non-USA-ers the Beatles and Neil Young), the Jayhawks have an undeniably distinctive, plaintive sound. Mockingbird Time is something of a “reunion” set, as Mark Olson and Karen Grotberg returned to the mothership. How does it compare with their other stuff? If you’re hoping for another Tomorrow the Green Grass: Disappointment City—that’s a high standard to live up to. Often the band sounds a little unsure

encompassed swing, bebop, European/American classical, and, perhaps most importantly, blues—it’s never far from her. The band, especially Lake (very Eric Dolphy-influenced), push the material into some “out” areas, but it’s impassioned and focused, never doodle-y. Allen displays the shadings of Williams and Monk, meaning gorgeous lyricism and smart economy…and there’s plenty of swing. The recording quality could be a little better (this band kicks ass live), but it does got that swing. Lukas Ligeti ★★★★ Pattern Time Innova

The Jayhawks.

of itself, strolling pleasantly but never breaking into a brisk run. Taken on its own merits, Mockingbird is an enjoyable enough platter but not a great Jayhawks album— everyone gets into a holding pattern sometime. Trio 3 + Geri Allen ★★★1/2 Celebrating Mary Lou Williams Intakt The life of Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) would make a cool movie—a jazz pianist, composer, and arranger whose career intersected with (and impacted upon) Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Cecil Taylor, among others, spanning and transcending styles and eras. Yet to recent generations, she’s not that well known, and maybe Celebrating might help remedy that a little. Trio 3 is a cooperative combo of alto saxophonist Oliver Lake, bassist Reggie Workman, and drummer Andrew Cyrille, and on this live set (Birdland, NYC, 2010) they’re joined by ace pianist Geri Allen playing Williams’s compositions. Williams

Geri Allen.

Sometimes you got to read the book to understand the movie, or re-watch a movie in a different light. When I first heard the pre-release version of Pattern Time, the latest from composer/drummer Lukas Ligeti and his polyglot/polymath crew, I was less than enthused. It’s freely improvised, which can frequently be exciting, hit/miss, or kicks for the performers but a drag to the listener. I listened to this set as if it were a jazz or typical free-improv (delightful and/or frustrating noise), of which it is neither. It is African traditional/folk music as filtered through freely improvising creative ax-wielders—so crafty, yet natural for this lot. Ligeti plays drums and percussives; Italian saxophonist Gianni Gebbia, French pianist Benoît Delbecq, Ivory Coast percussionist Aly Keita, and Californian ebassist Michael Manring take West African rhythms and motifs and run with them— “On Patterned Time” the ebullient, darkly crystalline tones of piano strings and percussion multiply organically, crackling like microwave popcorn, with Gebbia judiciously injecting some Coltranelike energy and Manring’s sinuous bass winding throughout. Lukas Ligeti. Photo: Burkina Electric. “Translucent Dusk” cascades prettily yet ominously, as if Steve Reich composed for a Hitchcock movie set on the African veldt, Ligeti’s drums like thunderclaps. The closer “Tunnels Alight” is closer to free jazz and music from The Twilight Zone series, driven by rhythms, direct and implied. Hepcats, leave all preconceptions at the door before immersion within Pattern Time—rhythm = pattern; its lingua franca is fresh and bristly, its time = now. / ■ JANUARY 2012



nick’s picks TOP TEN JAZZ RELEASES OF 2011 LAST YEAR, AUTHOR, JOURNALIST and jazz critic, Francis Davis invited me to submit my top ten favorite jazz recordings in his annual compendium for The Village Voice. It was an honor for me (and for ICON) to be regarded in a group that included roughly 100 of the best music writers in print, radio and new media. The invite came again this year along with a new venue. Given the evolution of the music biz and the way one listens to music, 2011’s list will be featured on Rhapsody’s website (—which is wonderful since Rhapsody’s reach is way greater than the Voice. I receive hundreds of CDs each year so it’s a welcome exercise to create this list. If you don’t see your favorite (or “best”) record listed, it’s because there will always be recordings I didn’t hear or have time to. But generally, 2011 was a great year for jazz with a crop of marvelous debuts and scintillating work from both established vocalists and instrumentalist. 1. Joe Lovano/Us Five, Bird Songs (Blue Note) Saxophonist Lovano has made many records for Blue Note as a leader and “Bird Songs” is his 22nd. Us Five is his current group, a crossgenerational collective which includes two drummers, a great pianist, James Weidman, and the remarkable bassist Esperanza Spalding. Sure, there have been a thousand tributes to Charlie Parker but Us Five has a canny ability to take tunes that once defined bebop and render them anew through deft interplay and joyous creativity. 2. Ambrose Akinmusire, When The Heart Emerges Glistening (Blue Note) Trumpeter Akinmusire keeps getting a lot of good press and that’s for a good reason. He’s young but you’ll be astounded by his facility and maturity of tone and tempo. Akinmusire’s original tunes are gnarled and seared with his lightning bolts of sound; they crackle with invention thanks to saxophonist Walter Smith III and the music is probably meant to be played as loud as you can stand it. You’ll think of 60’s Miles and Freddie Hubbard, too, but the leader ricochets back to the future with a righteous sincerity. The rhythm section is the dream team of

Nick Bewsey has been writing about jazz for ICON since 2004. A member of The Jazz Journalists Association, he blogs about jazz and entertainment at Twitter: @countingbeats 52



pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown and this amazing effort was co-produced by Jason Moran. 3. Ben Allison, Action-Refraction (Palmetto) Bassist Allison gives his 10th recording a twist by offering up an album of covers – songs by PJ Harvey, Neil Young and “We’ve Only Just Begun,” a tune that’s owned by The Carpenters. Except here he reboots them in wild and wonderful ways with his “electro-acoustic orchestra” – saxophonist Michael Blake, guitarists Steve Cardenas and Brandon Seabrook, drummer Rudy Royston and pianist Jason Lindner who rocks the sonic trance arrangement of Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free.” At a trim 40 minutes, Allison’s team beautifully networks the concept and its aural pleasures sustain multiple spins. 4. Gilad Hekselman, Hearts Wide Open (le Chant du Monde) Guitarist Hekselman arrays eight seriously great originals that gracefully expand the horizons of jazz guitar with melodious folk and rock influences. Saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Joe Martin and the powerful drummer Marcus Gilmore do justice to Hekselman’s silky arrangements with nimble bass notes, percussive rhythms and a dexterous sense of swing. A nice surprise, the guitarist adds a power ballad (“Understanding”) that heaves under a sturdy backbeat and emotive melody that signifies the leader’s cool confidence. 5. Noah Preminger, Before The Rain (Palmetto) Casting aside any doubt about his ambition and strength as a composer, the young saxophonist Noah Preminger devotes his sophomore recording (and first for the Palmetto label) to the ballad form. The lead track is the beloved standard, “Where Or When,” and Preminger blows low notes with a honeyed edge over a lush

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

rhythm conjured by pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist John Hébert and drummer Matt Wilson, a team of top flight musicians. The recording itself is sumptuous and spot-on, and it pulls you into the music as if Preminger and company is playing exclusively for you. 6. Giacomo Gates, The Revolution Will Be Jazz, The Songs Of Gil Scott-Heron (Savant) For a singer, Giacomo Gates’ baritone is unmistakable, like blue label scotch and just as fine. His terrific concept album, “The Revolution Will Be Jazz: The Songs Of Gil Scott-Heron” (Savant Records) risks a bittersweet listen since ScottHeron passed away during Gates’ recording of the album, but with Gates at the helm the experience proves to be willfully celebratory. “Revolution” is this singer’s tour-deforce, a self-assured combination of words and music that Gates treats like lost classics, permeating them with verve. With potent musicians in tow – pianist John Di Martino, guitarist Tony Lombardozzi, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, drummer Vincent Ector and a fine Clare Daly on baritone sax – Gates swings (“Show Bizness”,) croons (“This Is A Prayer For Everybody To Be Free”) and gets his groove on (“Lady Day and John Coltrane.”) 7. Miguel Zenon, Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook (Marsalis Music) A 2008 MacArthur Fellow and founding member of The SF Jazz Collective, saxophonist Miguel Zenon’s 6th recording pairs his longtime group – pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Henry Cole – with a 10piece woodwind ensemble conducted by Guillermo Klein for a sterling set of passionate tunes from his native Puerto Rico. The recording is deeply authentic and engages with its polyrhythmic and melodic hooks. There’s a sweep of emotion that accompanies the woodwinds but Zenon plays front and center, reflecting on the music he’s heard all his life and giving it new wings to make it fly high. 8. Sonny Rollins, Road Shows, Vol. 2 (Doxy/Emarcy) Words are flimsy when describing saxophonist Sonny Rollins, now 80 years old yet listening to him continues to evoke great joy. His discography charts a musician full of

ideas but it’s the concert stage where Rollins’s alchemy speaks truth to power. It’s a fact that Rollins can play for two hours and never repeat a phrase or lick and the second edition of Road Shows makes for a transfixing experience, since most of the recording docs his 80th Birthday concert at the Beacon Theater with Ornette Coleman, Roy Haynes, Roy Hargrove, Russell Malone and Christian McBride. A recipient of the 2010 Medal of Arts, terms like colossus, titan and legendary don’t fit this one-of-a-kind man either, but they will come to mind when listening to this classic date. 9. Marcin Wasilewski Trio, Faithful (ECM) As an acoustic trio, pianist Marcin Wasilewski, bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz choose harmony over conflict, cultivating endless possibilities as they improvise their way through lyrical passages and peaceful interludes. The group doesn’t abandon the atmospherics or the indelible rapport for which they are acclaimed, and the title track (written by Ornette Coleman) sums up what the MW trio does best, which is to coerce sophisticated improvisations out of the subtlest of melodies, sometimes a note at a time. 10. Jake Saslow, Crosby Street (14th Street) Saxophonist Jake Saslow does a terrific job on his debut album, “Crosby Street” (14th Street Records) which sounds like the work of a confident veteran. He has a relaxed sound, tuneful yet conversational and the recording spotlights a leader with an extraordinarily empathetic band. Saslow doesn’t play loud, never showboats by reaching for the high notes or confuses proficiency with theatrics, which in the end defines his playing as grounded and self-assured. Saslow’s also a persuasive balladeer, closing the album with “Until Next Time,” a heartfelt track that begins with Trane-like licks over a gentle groove and carries you out under a blanket of swing courtesy of Martin’s walking bass, Gilmore’s sleek beats and Moreno’s gorgeous licks. ■ JANUARY 2012



jazz library



ALMOST HALF-A-CENTURY AGO, I let go of a pretty good job in insurance to take a much lower paying job in radio. I’ve never regretted the decision, because the radio gig accorded me the opportunity to not only meet scores of outstanding people in all walks of life, but to also interview them for the electronic and print media. Some fast friendships evolved from a fair number of those encounters. While working as a newsman, covering and voicing hard news at a radio station by day, and doubling as a DJ at another station at night, one entertainer I got to interview quite a few times was singer Arthur Prysock. He was a lot of fun and told interesting tales involving his travels. Arthur was a big, handsome chap...built along the lines of a football linebacker. He had a romantic baritone singing voice to match his good looks, and many ladies aggressively sought his attention. Arthur and his slightly young brother, Wilbert “Red” Prysock, were staples in Atlantic City during the middle part of the last century, the city’s entertainment heyday. Red played saxophone and often led the small organ combos which accompanied his brother. Arthur also played Philly often, with and without Red. He and Red were born in Spartansburg, South Carolina. Red was two years younger than Arthur, and while in his late teens, left home for service in the military. Arthur departed later, heading east to Hartford, Connecticut where he worked at odd jobs until he discovered he had a singing voice and began working with a piano accompanist. He was heard by a club owner who hired him. A job with Buddy Johnson’s Band followed, and the hits began to accumulate—among them, “Because,” and “I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone.” His powerful, but flexible bass-baritone easily handled the band’s demanding up-tempo R&B tunes, but his forte was the tender ballad, which he got to do more of upon leaving Johnson’s band in 1952. He’d spent eight years with the band, and wanted to go solo. Arthur contracted with several record labels over the next forty-five years, but did not acquire major recognition. I would guess he made a comfortable living working the smaller clubs, but despite his good looks and one of the most powerful yet romantic singing voices in all of standard-pop music, he never got into the big-name clubs and concert halls. Some say he lacked sophistication and stage presence. Others say there was only room for one popular and handsome African-American male singer at that time—and that was Billy Eckstine. Arthur’s hit-and-miss story also brings to mind the sketchy career of another African-American romantic balladeer named Johnny Hartman, who attained more of a following after his death than he ever enjoyed while alive. His career did receive a positive jolt in mid-career, when Lowenbrau Beer asked him to sing the commercial phrase, “Let it be Lowenbrau.” The general public loved the voice on the radio commercials, but didn’t know the crooner. During one of my interviews with him, Arthur told me, “When Lowenbrau approached me to do the commercials, one representative said they would pay me more money for doing the spots than I’d ever seen. I kind of resented him being that personal...but he was right. I got paid big time, and it helped me put a daughter through college.” His recordings are not plentiful, even though insiders say he recorded dozens of them. Some LPs are still out there, and some have been committed to CD, but they are few. If you’ve never heard Arthur sing, but think you’d like to hear a magnificent singing voice backed by the best big band in the land, get your hands on the Verve CD, Prysock and Basie. The Basie referred to is, of course, the Count. Arthur Prysock passed away on the island of Hamilton, Bermuda, in June of 1997, at age 68. He had retired there several years earlier after having been a frequent visitor. I’ve yet to read or hear it confirmed, but a consistent rumor has it that Arthur’s parents were born there. n

Bob Perkins is a writer and host of an all-jazz radio program that airs on WRTI-FM 90.1 Monday through Thursday night from 6:00 to 9:00pm and Sunday, 11:00am to 3pm.


















Facts compiled by the editors of Harper’s Magazine

Number of the 100 highest-paid American CEOs who earned more than their employers paid in taxes last year: 25 Date on which the Lake Erie Correctional Institution became the first U.S. state prison sold to a private company: 8/31/2011 Amount the Corrections Corporation of America paid the State of Ohio for the prison: $72,700,000 Percentage of U.S. Postal Service expenses that go to labor costs: 89 Of FedEx and UPS expenses, respectively: 41, 48 Percentage of Americans who disapprove of a deficit-reduction plan with no tax increases: 60 Amount of the 2009 stimulus package that the federal government has yet to spend: $127,000,000,000 Estimated annual cost to the U.S. economy of worker “disengagement”: $400,000,000,000 Estimated annual cost of rust and other corrosion to the Defense Department each year: $23,000,000,000 Estimated percentage of Americans aged 17 to 24 who are ineligible to join the military: 75 Respective rank of obesity, drug and alcohol problems, and low “aptitude” among the most common reasons for ineligibility: 1, 2, 3 Date on which WikiLeaks announced “pre-litigation action” against the Guardian newspaper for leaking information: 9/1/2011 Number of chopsticks made each day by Georgia Chopsticks in Americus, Georgia, for use in China: 2,100,000 Percentage increase in the number of Chinese students applying to U.S. graduate schools this year: 21 Portion of unemployed people in the United States who are covered by primary unemployment insurance: 1/4 Percentage change since 2001 in applications for Social Security disability benefits: +50 Number of Americans currently receiving them: 13,600,000 Year by which the program will be unable to pay benefits, according to congressional estimates: 2018 Chances that a U.S. corporation is considering ending health benefits when federal insurance exchanges begin: 3 in 10 Percentage of all oxycodone sold to doctors in the U.S. last year that went to Florida: 89 Date on which Florida began requiring potential welfare recipients to pass a drug test before receiving benefits: 7/1/2011 Percentage who have failed the test: 2.5 Estimated amount this will save the state over the next year in denied benefits: $98,000 Amount that Rick Perry has received in federal farm subsidies: $72,687 Number of the top 50 donors to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns who received an appointment to a state post: 22 Percentage increase in the sales of luxury goods within the United States in the past year: 7.3 Number of “designer vagina” operations paid for by the British National Health Service last year: 2,000 Percentage of women seeking the procedure who were deemed to have “normal” genitalia in a 2010 study: 100 Minutes of television that the average British dog watches each day: 50 Number of times the average British man will fall in love, according to an August study: 3 Number of times the average British woman will: 1 Percentage change in the gap between the wages of U.S. men and women since 1998: +9 Amount by which a typical good-looking U.S. worker will out-earn a typical ugly one over a lifetime: $230,000 Estimated amount that discrimination against the ugly costs America each year: $20,000,000,000 Percentage of cell phone owners who admit they have pretended to be on the phone to avoid talking to someone in person: 13 Percentage of female scientists who say they have fewer children than they wanted because of their careers: 45 Percentage of male scientists who do: 25 Date on which Joe Walsh (R., Ill.) said Washington can’t put “one more dollar of debt upon the backs of my kids”: 7/13/2011 Amount that Walsh currently owes in back child support: $98,422 Last year in which the U.S. government did not “do everything wrong,” according to Ron Paul: 1987 (or possibly 1988)

Index Sources 1 Institute for Policy Studies (Washington); 2,3 Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (Columbus); 4 U.S. Postal Service; 5 FedEx (Memphis)/United Parcel Service of America, Inc. (Atlanta); 6 CNN/ORC International (Washington); 7 Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (Washington); 8 Gallup Consulting (Washington); 9 LMI Government Consulting (McLean, Va.); 10,11 U.S. Department of Defense; 12 WikiLeaks; 13 Georgia Chopsticks, LLC (Americus); 14 Council of Graduate Schools (Washington); 15 Harper’s research; 16–18 U.S. Social Security Administration; 19 Towers Watson (N.Y.C.); 20 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; 21–23 Florida Department of Children and Families (Tallahassee); 24 Environmental Working Group (Washington); 25 Texans for Public Justice (Austin); 26 MasterCard Advisors (N.Y.C.); 27,28 British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (London); 29 Digital UK (London); 30,31 72 Point (London); 32 Harper’s research; 33,34 Daniel Hamermesh, The University of Texas at Austin; 35 Pew Internet and American Life Project (Washington); 36,37 Elaine Howard Ecklund, Rice University (Houston); 38 Office of Representative Joe Walsh (Washington); 39 Coladarci and Coladarci (Chicago); 40 Harper’s research. JANUARY 2012



The Los Angeles Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle SECRET RETREAT By Gail Grabowski Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis ACROSS Restraining order Cereal fruit “Done!” Personality component Tiered treat Cause of some droughts Offer one’s thoughts Lace (into) Lasagna ingredient Vogue publisher Dogie catcher So yesterday Quaint curse Purpose Field workers? Raymond James Stadium player, familiarly 35 Barely progresses 39 Many a ski house 43 Gulf of Bothnia winter phenomenon 46 More chilling 47 Halifax hold 48 “Beowulf ” language 52 Prefix with -frice 53 Leafy recess 55 Late notice? 56 Recorded, in a way 58 Nutritional figs. 59 Good thing to avoid in public 60 How to enjoy some amusement park water rides 62 Somme soul 63 Asian holiday 64 Golfer Garcia 66 Prior to 67 Cell in a network 69 Ideal conclusion? 70 Arrival of royalty, say 75 Place for a peel 78 Words to one on the way out 80 Bygone intl. carrier 81 Relief givers 83 Crunch unit 84 With it 85 Appeared in a big way 88 Marathon measures 89 Scoop holder 90 Where to find a lot of corned beef 92 Marine predator 93 Mosey 94 In __: stuck 96 “Works for me” 99 Surveyor’s drawing 100 Take out, in a way 102 Prepared to eavesdrop 1 5 11 16 19 20 21 22 23 25 27 28 29 31 32 34

56 ■



103 Mends, as a bad stitching job 105 Comedian’s sidekick 106 Part of a line: Abbr. 107 Port container 109 Flying fig. 110 Haywire 111 Recede 112 WWII torpedo vessel 117 Business identifier 121 Scraps 124 Sharer’s word 125 Delta preceder 126 Provided with temporarily 127 Frenzied 128 Comforting companion 129 Game trail 130 Scoundrels 131 Meddle (in)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 24 26 30 33 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 49 50 51 54

DOWN Yuk it up Rossini specialty Watch displays, briefly Hose fillers 1906 Runabout, e.g. Unfriendly River near Karachi It builds up in channels Having four sharps Feeder with fodder Italian flatbread It can help you carry a tune “Collages” novelist Bring about Blows a gasket Victorian __ PX patrons Decline, with “out” Par Not as far from Word often preceding a sentence Job ad abbr. Concert band Sic on Hindu honorifics 2006 tennis retiree Some comedies “Little Fockers” co-star As a companion Took by force Complete Albéniz composition “Cantos de __” Hi-tech titter Corp. alias Studly dudes Hold sway

57 61 65 68 71 72 73

Court tie Slowly, to Mozart Grass-B-Gon maker Bit of gaucho gear Sitting in a cask, say “Consider it done” Score in a pitcher’s duel, perhaps 74 Accomplish using force 76 Future litigator’s study 77 Items of value 79 Speed demon’s delight 82 Fools 83 Assembly line worker 85 Book that might be cooked 86 Old French coin 87 Former U.N. leader Hammarskjöld 89 Hotel entrance lineup 91 “Is that a promise?” 95 Angled fairways 97 Crème brûlée ingredient 98 Time pieces: Abbr. 101 Moist towelette 104 Barely managed, with “out” 107 “The Mentalist” airer 108 Taper off 110 Shells and such 111 Flamboyant Dame 113 Smile from ear to ear 114 Tab-grabber’s words

115 Fusses 116 Chiding sounds 117 Tank or tee 118 Regret 119 Display on the wall 120 Latin lover’s word

122 Secret retreat hidden in this puzzle’s nine longest answers 123 Phone bk. info

Answer in next month’s issue.

Answer to December’s puzzle, WITHOUT ASPIRATIONS









FINDINGS By Rafil Kroll-Zaidi

A compendium of research facts WISCONSIN WAS EXPECTING A full harvest of bears, giant king crabs had invaded the Antarctic Abyss, and snakes continued to bite large numbers of Africans. Hyenas can count to three, dolphins may understand death, and honeybees were found capable of pessimism; scientists who impersonated badgers by violently shaking the bees’ hives further proposed that today’s bees may be particularly pessimistic because of pesticides, and hoped in future to elicit happiness from bees. Thirty percent of U.S. honeybees were found to have died last winter. Honeybees had brought new viruses from Mississippi to California via South Dakota, and a new species of solitary bee was discovered in Florida. The Asian bee-eating hornet had invaded Western Europe. In Scotland, researchers were attempting to decipher the language of bees. “Whether this is just bee noise,” admitted the neuroscientist leading the study, “we don’t know.” Ecologists were surprised to find Scottish bumblebees ascending to hilltops in search of females. “In between drinking,” said the principal researcher, “they go looking for mates.” South London was found to be rife with stag beetles.

day/weekend trip


Cure those after-Christmas doldrums THE TOWN OF JIM Thorpe doesn't roll up its sidewalks waiting for Spring just because Christmas is over. Even better, its satisfying pleasures are just a short drive from the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia. For one thing, skiers will be happy to know there are three ski areas within 20 minutes of town: Blue Mountain, Jack Frost and Big Boulder. Blue Mountain features the highest vertical in Pennsylvania (1,082 feet), 37 trails for all abilities on 162 skiable acres, and runs of up to 6,400 feet long. Big Boulder and Jack Frost are known for their superior snowmaking operations and glades providing excellent tree runs. Consider making a night or weekend of it; Jim Thorpe is known not only for its sparkling downtown hotel, but also for its remarkable variety of cozy bed and breakfasts, and guesthouses. Most of them cater to skiers, offering discounts. Visit for the details.

AN AMATEUR BOTANIST IN Brazil co-described a new species of strychnine that buries its own seeds. “This is my first botanical publication in a peerreviewed journal,” said Alex Popovkin. “Hopefully, there will be more to follow. I had since early adolescence felt attraction to plants.” Spring break was blamed for the spike in March conceptions among Ontarian teenagers, and alcohol consumption was found to make no difference for a quarter of American rapists. Koi herpes was widespread among Michigan’s common carp, as was vulvar pain among its women. Ten percent of women dislike performing oral sex on men. Treatment by magnetotherapy may help stroke victims overcome their inability to swallow. Transcranial magnetic stimulation inhibits the ability to lie. The brains of older humans are cluttered with irrelevant information. MEN TEND TO GAIN weight after divorce, whereas women tend to gain weight following marriage. Women who shoot themselves are less likely than men to aim for their heads. Fetuses learn to differentiate touch from pain when they are between thirty-five and thirty-seven weeks old. Scottish authorities declined to launch a formal investigation into the possibility of sea eagles’ carrying off small children. Britain’s January babies are more likely to grow up to be debt collectors, and those born in the spring are prone to anorexia. Irish twins whose birth weights differ by 18 percent or more are at greater risk of bowel disorders. Ireland was the only country with substantial demand for the donor sperm of redheads. Racism among white home-plate umpires causes minority pitchers to pitch conservatively and thereby to earn lower salaries. White umpires do not, however, display racist favoritism toward catchers. Gay African-American men were being made anxious by prejudice and harassment. Delusive overconfidence may be beneficial in the long run, and the sunk-cost effect was contributing to Americans’ renewed enthusiasm for the Iraq war. “People,” explained one of the study’s authors, “are notoriously bad at making assessments on when it’s time to stop.” At a health spa in China, an eel swam up a man’s penis. ■

Downtown is lively, especially on weekends. A dozen different restaurants cater to different tastes, ranging from Irish pubs to fine cuisine, all within a few minutes of each other. After skiing, dinner at Flow, the Broadway Grille, Moya, or the newly-reopened Blackbread Café is likely to taste especially good. Then stroll up the street for a show at the Mauch Chunk Opera House. This January the venue features everything from the punk-folk politics of Hammel on Trial to Comedy Night to a brilliant Led Zeppelin tribute by the group Kashmir. The environment is relaxed and the acoustics excellent. Meanwhile, courtesy of a newly re-seated balcony, you're going to be close to the action no matter where you sit. Pick your seats online at or call 570-325-0249. It's the so-called off-season in Jim Thorpe, with Christmas over, but no shortage of things to keep you occupied. But here’s the thing: in January, just about everything to do with shopping, accommodations and restaurants is on sale. The details are online at and discounts range from ten to 50% off. The operative word is relaxed. During the day, go skiing nearby, or hike or snowshoe (the JTX leads snowshoe tours right from town—call 484-225-1209), then afterward relax at a pub or restaurant. Take in a show at the Opera House (or, only four miles out of town is the renowned Penn’s Peak with a great schedule of national touring country and rock acts) and go back into town for a nightcap. ■ JANUARY 2012



< Whoopee!


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DINNER FOR 2: MICHAEL FRANK You can win, too. Here’s how: Send an email with the subject line

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Glorious Food Then write your full name and send to 58



broadening section of the world, including the whole of Europe, melodically involved and, for a moment, impassioned, before a Russia, and the United States. Despite health problems, particureprise of the opening and a diminuendo fadeout. The harmonlarly regarding the (probably diabetes-related) condition of his ic idiom and dreamy aura recall the more quietly ecstatic mohands, Ysaÿe was at his best when performing, and many promiments of Franck’s violin sonata, composed in 1886 as a wedding nent composers dedicated major works to him, including present for Ysaÿe and dedicated to him. Ysaÿe was undoubtedly Claude Debussy, Camille Saint-Saëns, Cesar Franck, and Ernest the greatest violinist after Paganini, an artist who—like Busoni Chausson.As his physical ailments grew more prohibitive, Ysaÿe and Godowsky at the piano—bridged the Romantic and Modern turned more and more to teaching and to an earlier love, commanners of playing. His revealing, if primitive, acoustic recordposition. Among his most faing of Rêve d’enfant, made in mous works are Six Sonatas 1913, is thus of supreme infor solo violin, Op.27, Harterest. Dwelling lovingly over monies du Soir, Op.31, for the piece at a slower tempo string quartet and orchestra, than any contemporary violinand an opera, Peter the ist would allow himself, he Miner, written at the end of softens the melody in dishis life in the Walloon dialect. creetly crooning portamenti As a performer, Ysaÿe was while unfolding it with a subcompelling and highly origitle rhythmic flexibility—or runal. Pablo Casals claimed bato—and sweetness of tone never to have heard a violinthat invests every note with ist play in tune before Ysaÿe, meaning and beside which and Carl Flesch called him the flawless precision of “the most outstanding and today’s best violinists seems individual violinist I have deadpan, generic and empty. ever heard in my life.” Ysaÿe With the challenging but elopossessed a large and flexible quent Six Sonatas for Solo Vitone, influenced by a varied olin and the ambitiously suband nearly continuous vibrastantial Poème Élégiaque, to. Like many of his contemRêve d’enfant has remained poraries, he used the portaat the fringe of the repertoire mento more often than modlargely thanks to the pietas of Conductor Dirk Brossé, violinist Leonard Schreiber and the orchestra ern players, but he used it violinists, while Ysaÿe’s some at rehearsal. with discretion and taste and sixty other compositions— never as a mere technical aid. Possibly the most distinctive fearanging from chamber works, to concertos and opera—have ture of Ysaÿe’s interpretations was his masterful rubato. Rubato been forgotten. Gently rippling, somewhat sensual chords lap is literally “stealing of time”; it usually implies a mere flexing of around the listener; the perfect palette for painting a colourful, tempo for expressive purposes. Ysaÿe’s rubato is something yet subtle picture with an orchestra. Softly defined contours are apart: “Whenever he stole time from one note, he faithfully paid care-fully coloured, in dreamy tones... all this to spread out a it back within four bars,” said the conductor Sir Henry Wood, soft bed, on which the soloist can lay down to rest. “allowing his accompanist to maintain strict tempo under his And Dirk Brossé stated, “While we were discussing the profree cantilena.” This kind of rubato fits the description of the gramme for this unique CD, I decided to compose a new piece textbook Chopinesque rubato, but, of all the early performers for my friend Leonard Schreiber. He had told me the story of his on record, Ysaÿe’s rubato is the only real display of it. Ysaÿe was grandparents, who survived the concentration camps, but unfornot equally at home in every repertoire; though admired for his tunately passed away before he was born. Inspired by this story, Bach and Beethoven interpretations, he was at his best perform- I started composing. I woke up in a dream, in which every deluing the works of more modern com-posers. Max Bruch, Saintsion became reality. Every shadow became a character. I capSaëns, and Franck called him their greatest interpreter, and intured every emotion in sound, translated every image into deed, in the performance of the works of those and similar com- music. I could smell every odor as if I was there, and I could posers, he was unquestionably supreme. His technique was brilhear the echoes of many silent voices. I woke up in a twilight I liant and finely honed, but never employed without some musiknew it wasn’t real. Or was it? How could I hear the echoes of cal purpose. In this respect he can be considered the first of the voices that had since long lost their voice? Voices that would modern violinists, whom technique is without the gaps of some never speak again….unless it was through the voice of the vioearlier artists, and is never employed for its own sake but always lin. While I was conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in service of the music. and Leonard was playing, I thought of those silent voices. Rêve d’enfant is composed in the mid-1890s and was dediLeonard was probably playing for his grandparents, and for all of cated to Ysaÿe’s youngest son Antoine. Rêve d’enfant mines a fa- the other innocent victims and therefore I dedicated this work, miliar vein of sentiment, after the manner of Fauré’s Berceuse, Echoes of Silent Voices, to all of the victims of the Holocaust.” Brahms’s Lullaby, and countless other encore effusions. Over an This recording is real gem and should (will) become part of engagingly tugging accompaniment, the violin sings a suavely each classical music collection. ■ rocking melody—an archetypal cradle song—which becomes

going out calendar ART EXHIBITS

THRU 1/8 East of the Sun: paintings by Jean Plough. Twenty-Two Gallery, 236 So. 22nd St., Phila. 215-772-1911. THRU 1/15 Shared Treasure: The Legacy of Samuel H. Kress. Allentown Art Museum of Lehigh Valley, 31 N., 5th. St., Allentown, PA. 610-4324333. THRU 1/15 Myles Cavanaugh: Places and Times to Remember. One-person exhibition. Silverman Gallery, Bucks County Impressionist Art, Buckingham Green, Route 202, Holicong, PA. 215-794-4300. THRU 1/15 Midwinter Passage, paintings by Roger Smith & Amy Ely O’Carroll. The Quiet Life Gallery, 17 S. Main St., Lambertville. Wed-Sun quietlifegallery. 609-397-0880 THRU 1/22 Kisa Kavass, Moments de Curiosite. John Andrulis’s “Retrospective” and Jennifer Hudson continues in Upstairs Gallery II. Red Filter Gallery, 74 Bridge St., Lambertville. Thurs–Sun 12-5. 347-244-9758. THRU 1/22 Annual Holiday Exhibition. Coryell Gallery, At the Porkyard, Coryell St., Lambertville, NJ. 609-397-0804. THRU 1/31 John Schmidtberger/LIGHT, extended through January. SFA Gallery, Thurs.- Sun., 11- 5, 10 Bridge St., Suite 7, Frenchtown, NJ, 08825. 908-268-1700 THRU 1/31 Serenity in Surrealism, by internationally known artist, Evgeni Gordiets. Mastering the Modern Landscape, Top Ten American Artist Ford Smith. Designs for Tranquility, 41 Bridge St., Frenchtown, NJ. 908996-9990 THRU 4/1 The Painterly Voice: Bucks County’s Fertile Ground. Michener Art

Museum, 138 S. Pine St, Doylestown, PA. 215-340-9800. 1/8-2/5 Sticks, Hooks, and the Mobius: Knit and Crochet go Cerebral. January hours: 12-5. Lafayette College, Williams Center Gallery, Easton, PA. 610-330-5361. 1/10-2/15 Idaherma Williams: A Discovery of Woodblock Prints in Color. Reception to meet the artist 1/20, 5-7. Villanova University Art Gallery, Connelly Center, Villanova, PA. 610-5194612. 1/13-2/5 Member Artists Group Show. Reception 1/13, 6-9. Twenty-Two Gallery, 236 So. 22nd St., Phila. 215772-1911. 1/16-2/3 Gallery Group Show. Silverman Gallery, Bucks County Impressionist Art, Buckingham Green, Route 202, Holicong, PA. 215-794-4300. 2/11-5/13 Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present. Allentown Art Museum of Lehigh Valley, 31 N., 5th. St., Allentown, PA. 610-432-4333

CALL TO ARTISTS GoggleWorks 2012 Juried Show, Vanity Fare: an offering of Art, Fashion and Creativity. Grand Prize: solo show in GoggleWorks’ Cohen Gallery. Cash prizes: first, second, and third place. Entry deadline: Jan. 13, 2012. Prospectus: GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, 201 Washington St., Reading, PA, 19601. 610-3744600.

THEATER 1/6-8: Shen Yun. Chinese dance and orchestral compositions. Merriam Theater, 250 So. Broad St., Phila. 215-895-1999.

1/15 Guest artists, Rioult Dance Fables, 3pm, family-friendly. Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. 610-758-2787. 1/15 Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, 2pm, $20/$10 (child & under). State Theatre, 453 Northampton St., Easton, PA. 610-252-3132. 1-800-999-state or 1/28 An evening with Marc Bamuthi Joseph, 8pm. Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. 610-758-2787 2/9-2/11 Master Choreographers, a showcase for some of the region’s premier choreographers. Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown, PA. 484-664-3333 2/22- 3/4 A View from the Bridge, by Arthur Miller, dir. by Anne Lewis. Act 1, DeSales University, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley, PA. 610-2823192 or

DINNER & MUSIC Tuesdays: Music & poetry, dance performances, storytellers & buffet. $30 includes tax and gratuity. Hamilton’s Grill Room, 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville, NJ 609-397-4343. Saturday nights: Sette Luna Restaurant, 219 Ferry St., Easton, PA. 610-253-8888.

CONCERTS Some organizations perform in various locations. If no address is listed, check the website for location of performance. 1/29 Winter Vivaldi, Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra, 3:00pm, Wesley Church, 2540 Center St., Bethlehem, PA. Baroque music performed by Sinfonia & piano soloist Father Sean Brett Duggan. 610-434-7811 or

2/5 The Philadelphia Brass Quintet, Stephen Williams, organ, and Steven Mathieson, timpani, 4pm. Arts at St. John’s, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 37 So. Fifth St., Allentown, PA. $25, $10. 610-435-1641

MAUCH CHUNK OPERA HOUSE One of America’s oldest vaudeville theaters, built in 1881. 14 West Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA 570-3250249.

2/11 The Leipzig String Quartet, 8:00pm. Chamber Music Society of Bethlehem, Foy Concert Hall, Moravian College, W. Church & Main Streets, Bethlehem. Tickets available at the door or

1/21: 1/27:

2/12 & 2/14 Mozart / Mackey. Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Dirk Brossé, music director. Tickets: 215-5451739 or 3/4 & 3/5 All Beethoven. Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Dirk Brossé, music director. Tickets: 215-545-1739 or ARTSQUEST CENTER AT STEELSTACKS (Musicfest Café) 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA 610-332-1300. 1/5: Mickey Hart Band 1/6: Little Feat 1/12: Carbon Leaf 1/13: Chris Smither with Ellis Paul 1/14: Everclear 1/17-22: Tony & Tina’s Wedding 1/25: Bronze Radio Return 1/26: DanceStand USA Featuring The Main Street Cruisers 2/3: Peter Yarrow Of Peter, Paul and Mary 2/7: David Sanborn Trio 2/9: An Intimate Solo / Acoustic Performance By Citizen Cope 2/10: Josh Thompson 2/14: Valentine's Day With Bev Conklin 2/16: Brother Joscephus and The Love Revival Revolution Orchestra 2/17: The Aardvarks 2/19: Bettye LaVette 2/21: The Ventures 2/22: Teitur 2/23: Leigh Nash Of Sixpence None The Richer 2/24: Trouble City All-Stars and Great White Caps



2/11: 2/18: 2/18:

Kashmir: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Show Hamell On Trial Last Friday Stand Up Comedy Event Commander Cody Band w/ Professor Louie and the Crowmatix TUSK – The Fleetwood Mac Show Savoy Brown The Allentown Band

EVENTS 1/14 Panoply Books Reading Series: Hayden Saunier, 6PM. Bucks County-based poet Hayden Saunier will read from her recent collection, Tips for Domestic Travel (Black Lawrence Press). Saunier is the 2011 Winner of the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, awarded by Nimrod International Journal. She is also an actress and voice-over artist, whose film and television credits include The Sixth Sense, Philadelphia Diary and Hack. Panoply Books, 46 No. Union St., Lambertville, NJ 609-397-1145

CLASSES Adult Spring Session, 8- or 15week sessions. The Baum School of Art, 510 W. Linden St., Allentown, PA. 610-433-0032.

ARTIST SPACE FOR RENT Join a community of working artists. Artist space available at GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, the country’s largest, most comprehensive interactive arts center. More info and a studio application available at or call 610374-4600 ext. 136.




ICON Magazine  

Cultural magazine in the Greater Philadelphia region.

ICON Magazine  

Cultural magazine in the Greater Philadelphia region.