NOVEMBER ~ 2011
INTERVIEWS The Upside of Apocalypse I 32 In the film Melancholia, Kirsten Dunst welcomes the destruction of the planet. But in real life, Dunst’s world has never been better.
Food’s Silver Fox I 34 Eric Ripert has gone far beyond the stove at his fabled Manhattan restaurant, Le Bernadin, starring on television and palling around with cooking’s bad boy, Anthony Bourdain. Kirsten Dunst.
FILM Reel News I 18 Water for Elephants Super 8 Sarah’s Key Cave of Forgotten Dreams Cinematters: The Ides of March I 20 Keresman on Film: Margin Call I 22
Writer for The New Yorker and The Nation and author of comic novels, Calvin Trillin celebrates 40 years of wry and witty observations.
3 Cohens The Tierney Sutton Band Giacomo Gates Marcus Strickland
DAY/WEEKEND TRIP I 61
Bad Movie: The Ledge I 24
Film Roundup I 26 Melancholia Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life Mozart’s Sister Take Shelter
Harper’s INDEX I 51
Funny Stuff I 36
Nick’s Picks I 58
L.A. Times Sunday Crossword I 60 Harper’s FINDINGS I 61
GOING OUT CALENDAR I 63
FOOD & WINE Champagne I 38 Fond I 39 Karla’s I 40
DAVE BARRY Great American Turkeys I 42
Old City Art I 28 The recent downturn in the economy has forced small galleries to reinvent themselves.
InVision I 30 A new photo extravaganza involving 41 venues in the Lehigh Valley.
Chef Eric Ripert.
ART Making Sausage I 7 Howard Pyle I 8 Exploring Modernist Trends I 10 Exhibitions I 12
STAGE Man and Boy I 14
Small Graces I 44
ABOUT LIFE A Mutually Shared Connection I 46
Theo Anderson, 2006
MUSIC Classical Notebook I 52 Melissa Errico / Michel Legrand Vittorio Grigolo
POLITICS & OPINION Eugene Robinson I 5 E.J. Dionne Jr. I 5 Lexicrockery I 57
Scene from Margin Call.
Regional Theater I 16
Singer / Songwriter I 54 Johnny Cash Maria Muldaur The McCrary Sisters John Prine Chris Isaak Keresman on Disc I 56 Jimi Hendrix The Mekons T with the Maggies The Cynics Either/Orchestra
ON THE COVER: Actress Kirsten Dunst, star of the new Lars von Trier film Melancholia (reviewed on page 26) is interviewed by R. Kurt Osenlund on page 32
The scientific finding that settles the climate-change debate
The GOP’s latest tax gimmickry: Soak the poor
E.J. DIONNE JR
FOR THE CLUELESS OR cynical diehards who deny global warming, it’s getting awfully cold out there. The latest icy blast of reality comes from an eminent scientist whom the climatechange skeptics once lauded as one of their own. Richard Muller, a respected physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, used to dismiss alarmist climate research as being “polluted by political and activist frenzy.” Frustrated at what he considered shoddy science, Muller launched his own comprehensive study to set the record straight. Instead, the record set him straight. “Global warming is real,” Muller wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal. Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the neo-Luddites who are turning the GOP into the antiscience party should pay attention. “When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find,” Muller wrote. “Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that.” In other words, the deniers’ claims about the alleged sloppiness or fraudulence of climate science are wrong. Muller’s team, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, rigorously explored the specific objections raised by skeptics—and found them groundless. Muller and his fellow researchers examined an enormous data set of observed tem-
IT’S ONE OF THE strangest things in our politics: The only “big” ideas Republicans and conservatives seem to offer these days revolve around novel and sometimes bizarre ways of cutting taxes on rich people. Given all the attention that Herman Cain’s nonsensical and regressive 9-9-9 tax plan has received, the Republican debates should have as their soundtrack that old Beatles song that droned on about the number nine. Now, Texas Gov. Rick Perry hopes to pump up his campaign with a supposedly bold proposal to institute a flat tax, which would also deliver more money to the well-off. Perry plans to outline his proposal this week, but he has already touted it as a sure-fire way of “scrapping the 3 million words of the current tax code.” There is absolutely nothing new about this idea, and candidates who pushed flat taxes in the past saw their campaigns flat-line, most prominently businessman Steve Forbes in 1996 and again in 2000. Politically, the idea falls apart rather quickly when middle-income voters realize that its main effect is to cut taxes on the financially privileged while usually raising them on Americans who have more modest incomes. Note to Perry: Voters are shrewd in figuring out whether tax proposals really benefit them. That’s why raising taxes on millionaires—the exact opposite of what Cain and Perry want to do—wins support from a broad majority. But the more interesting question is: Why are today’s Republicans so enthralled by tax gimmicks? Their party, after all, was once innovative in thinking about affirmative
5 / OPINION / THE CLIMATE-CHANGE DEBATE
peratures from monitoring stations around the world and concluded that the average land temperature has risen 1 degree Celsius—or about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit—since the mid-1950s. This agrees with the increase estimated by the United Nationssponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Muller’s figures also conform with the estimates of those British and American researchers whose catty e-mails were the basis for the alleged “Climategate” scandal, which was never a scandal in the first place. The Berkeley group’s research even confirms the infamous “hockey stick” graph—showing a sharp recent temperature rise— that Muller once snarkily called “the poster child of the global warming community.” Muller’s new graph isn’t just similar, it’s identical. Muller found that skeptics are wrong when they claim that a “heat island” effect from urbanization is skewing average temperature readings; monitoring instruments in rural areas show rapid warming, too. He found that skeptics are wrong to base their arguments on the fact that records from some sites seem to indicate a cooling trend, since records from at least twice as many sites clearly indicate warming. And he found that skeptics are wrong to accuse climate scientists of cherry-picking the data, since the readings that are often omitted—because they are judged unreliable—show the same warming trend. Muller and his colleagues examined five times as many temperature readings as did other researchers—a total of 1.6 billion records—and now have put that merged database online. The results have not yet been subjected to peer review, so technically they are still preliminary. But Muller’s plain-spoken admonition that “you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer” has reduced many deniers to incoherent grumbling or stunned silence. Not so, I predict, with the blowhards such as Perry, Cain and Bachmann, who, out of ignorance or perceived self-interest, are willing to play politics with the Earth’s future. They may concede that warming is taking place, but they call it a natural phenomenon and deny that human activity is the cause. It is true that Muller made no attempt to ascertain “how much of the warming is due to humans.” Still, the Berkeley group’s work should help lead all but the dimmest policymakers to the overwhelmingly probable answer. We know that the rise in temperatures over the past five decades is abrupt and very large. We know it is consistent with models developed by other climate researchers that posit greenhouse gas emissions—the burning of fossil fuels by humans—as the cause. And now we know, thanks to Muller, that those other scientists have been both careful and honorable in their work. Nobody’s fudging the numbers. Nobody’s manipulating data to win research grants, as Perry claims, or making an undue fuss over a “naturally occurring” warm-up, as Bachmann alleges. Contrary to what Cain says, the science is real. It is the know-nothing politicians—not scientists—who are committing an unforgivable fraud. 6
5 / OPINION / SOAK THE POOR
uses of government. The Grand Old Party instituted the Homestead Act and created land-grant colleges, the interstate highway system, student loans, the Pure Food and Drug Act and even a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. It was Richard Nixon who supported laws establishing the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In signing the OSHA bill, Nixon called it “one of the most important pieces of legislation, from the standpoint of 55 million people who will be covered by it, ever passed by the Congress of the United States, because it involves their lives.” Yes, government regulations save lives, a view now heretical in the GOP.
epublicans have boxed themselves into a rejection of both their own traditions and the idea that government can do any good. Thus they have confined themselves to endless fiddling with the tax code. Almost everything conservatives suggest these days is built around the single idea that if only government took less money away from the wealthy, all our problems would magically disappear. There is a history to this. The Republican fixation on taxes dates to the mid-1970s, when supply-side economics began taking hold. The late Jude Wanniski, an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal who campaigned indefatigably on behalf of lower marginal tax rates, came up with the “Two Santa Clauses” theory. He argued that if Democrats earned support by giving voters benefits through government programs, Republicans should play Santa by giving people tax cuts. Wanniski sold his tax ideas to Jack Kemp, one of the most ebullient political figures of his generation, who in turn sold them to Ronald Reagan. Reagan made Kemp’s 30 percent tax cut (co-sponsored with Sen. Bill Roth) a centerpiece of his 1980 campaign. The political scientist Wilson Carey McWilliams perfectly described the result in a 1981 essay. “After years of learning that ‘you don’t shoot Santa Claus,’” he wrote, “the Republicans decided to nominate him.” But Republicans have a problem now. In the Kemp-Reagan days, they were selling across-the-board tax cuts. Most of their benefits flowed to the rich, but almost everyone got a piece. Today, many Republicans complain resentfully that less prosperous Americans don’t pay enough in taxes—overlooking the fact that citizens who don’t pay income taxes still shell out a significant share of their earnings in payroll, sales and (directly or through their rents) property taxes. Reagan’s optimism has thus been replaced by crabby putdowns of the less affluent. Perry said it directly in his announcement speech: “We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax.” Considering the other injustices in our society, this seems an odd and mean-spirited obsession. “Tax the poor” is a lousy political slogan. That’s why Cain’s 9-9-9 plan and Perry’s flat tax are doomed to fail. Among conservatives, Santa Claus has given way to Scrooge.
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
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 2011 by Prime Time Publishing Co., Inc.
a thousand words
STORY AND PAINTING BY ROBERT BECK
Making Sausage THE EASE WITH WHICH I can get permission to paint at a location is inversely proportional to the number of people who work there (Beck’s First Law of Authorization). The larger the business or institution, the more chance of my request getting forwarded along a seemingly endless succession of people concerned with both protecting the organization and making sure their own decisions aren’t called into question. Public Relations, Legal, Copyright, Facilities, and other departments all have a say in imagining the disastrous outcomes of letting a painter into their facility. Most often I eventually connect with an enthusiastic advocate who smoothes it all out and everybody has fun, but there are times when I slide deeper into the tunnel, resubmitting my proposal again and again until it lands on the desk of someone who could care less, and everything goes dark. Asking to paint in a small business, however, is a snap. You talk to the owner and get your answer right away. It might not be the one you want but at least you aren’t being jerked around for months sending emails and making calls. Philadelphia foodie Cindy Ayers took me to Fiorella’s Sausage shop in the Italian Market on the hunch I would want to paint there. Fiorella’s is a stand-alone butcher shop that looks about the same as it did a century ago, with a large builtin floor scale, ice-box door above the walk-in, and a brass cash register. No pretention, no Disney. You don’t have to ask if they use natural casings. I loved it. I asked the owner, Dan Fiorella, if I could paint in his store, telling him it Robert Beck maintains a gallery and academy in Lambertville, NJ. firstname.lastname@example.org
would take about three hours, I wouldn’t make a mess, it would be part of a show, blah, blah. He looked me square-on and said, “What’s this gonna cost me?” I explained that I wasn’t trying to sell him anything, just asking permission to paint there. “When d’you want to do this?” “How about Monday? A pause. “Monday’s OK.” I was in. From that point, Dan and his wife, Trish, couldn’t do enough for me. Monday I was waiting outside when they opened and I set my easel just inside the door with a view down the length of the store. Laying out my palette, I looked around for identifying triggers—those simple elements that invite recollection or suggest a larger story. I noticed the diagonal offset on the back wall suggesting the stairs leading to the floor above where the shopkeeper usually lived, and the yellowing plastic illuminated sign over
that. Those photos on the left wall; are they family? . . the old neighborhood? . . celebrities? All of these things—the varied fluorescent tubes, the fan on top of the refrigerator, the tiled wall—contribute quietly to a common identity. A painter has to subdue some details and eliminate others in order to distill an impression and craft a balanced composition. The store’s counter is faced with carved wood, but it’s just a small voice in the story. You know it’s there without my getting specific. I also have to be careful of geometric shapes, which are magnets for the viewer’s attention. But they can be useful as well. Notice how you constantly return to both the round face on the Toledo scale and the rectangular refrigerator. I brought them up just enough to act as anchors resisting the strong lines of the counter, the wall on the left, and the fluorescent lights above, all of which try to pull you out of the picture.
Fiorella’s daily business went on as if I wasn’t there. One of Dan’s friends stopped by on his day off to help slice cutlets. He slid an apron over his head, pulled the strings around from the back and tied them against his stomach, then began sharpening one of the knives while presenting his analysis of the Phillies pitching. A delivery of meat arrived and I had to move my easel so the guy could maneuver his hand-truck through the narrow double doors and along the aisle. People came in for their regular orders (“Tell Dan three pounds of hot. I’ll be back later”). It’s a neighborhood. Painting done, I packed my kit and stowed it in the back of my car. I thanked Mr. Fiorella and he handed me a bag with a half-dozen delicious-looking cutlets (deep pink, not gray like in the supermarket) and a large coil each of hot and sweet sausage. As nice a swag bag as a carnivore might hope for. NOVEMBER 2011
FOR ITS 40TH ANNIVERSARY, the Brandywine River Museum has drawn from its own collections and have come up with four of a kind. The winning hand is Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, his son Andrew, and his grandson Jamie. Pyle is the dean of American illustration, the founder of the Brandywine school and a teacher whose many students achieved national success. The entire Museum is chock full of paintings comprising five different exhibitions— N.C. Wyeth’s Treasure Island, Masterpieces by Andrew Wyeth, Celebrating 40 Years of Collecting, and two exhibitions of Howards Pyle’s art: Honoring Howard Pyle: Major Works from the Collection, and Inspiring Minds: Howard Pyle as Teacher. The latter two are worthy of looking at as Pyle was not only an accomplished artist himself, but it can be said that his work and his teaching played a fundamental role in the careers of many Wyeths. Pyle was born in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1853 and died a short 58 years later in 1911 in Florence, Italy, where he had gone to study mural painting. In Wilmington, Pyle, a Quaker, attended the Friend’s school and, lacking funs for college, studied privately in Philadelphia and later part time at the Art Students League in New York. Despite this scant training, by the time Pyle was in his early 20s he had established himself as one of the top illustrators for New York magazines like Harper’s and Scribner’s. Another great influence on his art was the collection of Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood paintings assembled by Samuel Bancroft of Wilmington. That collection, along with the works of Pyle, formed the basis for today’s Delaware Art Museum. That institution is exhibiting its own collection of Pyle this month, The Storyteller’s Art: Reimagining America through Illustration. Much of the style of the Pre-Raphaelites touched not only Pyle but his many students over the years, most directly in the case of Violet Oakley. Pyle seems to have found his niche in teaching, and by 1894 he was teaching art at the Drexel Institute of Art in Philadelphia to such future stars as Oakley, Jessie Wilcox, and Elizabeth Shippen, known collectively as the Red Rose girls. After Pyle left Drexel, he established his own school in Wilmington and a summer school in Chadds Ford. His students included Maxfield Parrish, Frank Schoonover, Harvey Dunn, Olive Rush, Ellen Thompson Pyle, and, of course, N.C. Wyeth. During this period he wrote children’s books and provided illustrations for them, plus illustrating the works of others. (A personal favorite is the 1883 The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Pyle took many of the legends and snippets from folk tales and made them into a coherent story. It is the standard by which all Robin Hoods are judged. Once you’ve been captured by his Robin Hood images, you’re hooked for life.) The Brandywine’s exhibition includes some iconic images—”The Salem Wolf,” “The Nation Makers,” and “Once it Chased Doctor Wilkinson.” Pyle thought it was the illustrator’s job, not just to illustrate the author’s lines but rather create the most dramatic moment from that part of the book. His works literally look like they are about to leap off the page and if there weren’t a story, the viewer could easily make one up to fit the picture. This “capture of the drama” also had to be done to fit the printed page, and Pyle was adept at “stacking” one figure behind the other to get depth and save space. His students, for the most part, followed his lead, and the second exhibition shows off some of their work. Here, the traditional argument between “art” and “illustration” continues. However, it’s really a moot point, an academic argument that doesn’t at all influence the viewer’s enjoyment. There is also much overlap between the 40 Years of Collecting show and the students’ show, since most are the same painters. The Museum says that the place has more pictures on display than ever before, with hundreds of works by nearly 200 artists being shown. The Collection show also has some different genres on display such as trompe l’oeil, plus lots more Wyeth as in Jamie, Carolyn, and Henriette, Peter Hurd, and John McCoy. It’s a far cry from the day in 1971 when the museum opened in an old mill with less than 50 works. Brandywine River Museum, U.S. Route 1, Chadds Ford, PA 610-388-2700
Opposite page: Little Women. This page: Canadian Trapper.
Edward Higgins is a member of The Association Internationale Des Critiques d’Art.
EVER SINCE THE WOODMERE Museum was founded, back in the 20th century, it has sought to assemble a permanent collection of painting and sculpture, principally by people who lived and worked in or near Philadelphia. This explains why its holdings include examples of many of the distinctive aesthetic directions that artists of the region have chosen to follow. At this time, the Woodmere in Chestnut Hill, is offering two interesting exhibitions of contemporary idioms by a mixed bag of dedicated individuals. Their reputations have long been honored in the local exhibition scene. These installations will close January 8, 2012. One group of these artworks is drawn from the Museum’s permanent holdings. They constitute a rich diversity of ideas in two and three dimensions. Examples that are hopelessly trite or primarily imbued with either narrative incident or a descriptive burden are very few and far between. Many others feel as fresh and alive right now as they did the day they were completed. What unifies them is an emphasis on creative invention and a drive toward profoundly individual expression. A second series of items on view is also made up of pieces from the permanent collection and artworks promised as a gift to the Museum by Karen Segal, herself a painter and resident of Chestnut Hill. Some of these selections were done by Jane Piper from whom Segal took instruction. Incidentally, besides her standing as a widely acknowledged master, Piper was also well known as the wife of the eminent, late sociologist, Digby Baltzell and the mother of the painter, Jan Baltzell. While the relatively recent period of time witnessed a great flowering of abstract and non-representational art forms, such modes of expression have earlier precedents. For example, there are the mysterious standing forms of Stonehenge in England and the pyramid-shaped memorial sculptures of ancient Egypt. There are also non-descriptive images that were painted in Arabic manuscripts from before the Middle Ages and diverse decorative mosaic panels employed in several examples of Middle Eastern- and North African-influenced architecture in Spain, dating from earlier than the 15th century. Sadly, some visitors adamantly refuse to spend time with artworks fashioned in non-figurative form. Of course, those spectators who are not yet ready for what sophisticated artists have to offer can always close their eyes and thereby avoid contact with work they cannot handle. Naturally, a better course of action would be for them to devote some time and effort to becoming better informed. After all, there is no law that says artists must limit themselves only to the use of image-content that may be familiar to people anywhere. Artists already have more than enough to do without also making sure their language of expression is always accessible to some lowest common denominator of visual acceptability. 10
EXPLORING MODERNIST TRENDS
This page top: Jacqueline Cotter, (American, born 1921) San Miguel, c. 1992. Oil on mylar. 8 x 9 in. Promised gift of Karen Segal This page bottom: William H. Campbell, (American, b. 1915) Red Green Black Power, 1971. Acrylic on canvas. 50 x 50 in. Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of William H. Campbell in honor of Michael W. Schantz, 2010. Opposite page: Elizabeth Osborne (American, born 1936). Equinox II, 2010. Oil on canvas. 53 3/4 x 43 1/4 in.
Among the paintings from the promised Segal gift, “San Miguel” by Jacqueline Cotter is an especially lively composite. Small in scale, it projects an imposing presence of irregular shapes, treated in notes of red, yellow, blue and black. The counterpoint of thin lines and broad, flat areas of color generates an overall pattern of fixed and fluid factors. All of them are alive with pulsating rhythms and a flow of energy that stays with you long after you leave the Museum. In contrast to Cotter’s painting, an untitled brass sculpture by Harry Bertoia from the Museum’s own collection consists of four standing, crowned uprights attached to a flat metallic base. These vertical elements give an imperious spirit to their surrounding space. It’s as though the piece might be a universal totem for all the organized religions of the world, maybe even including the combined body of all the communicants to the belief system called atheism. Asserting a mind of its own, William H. Campbell’s “Red Green Black Power” is a bold composition of flat parallelogram and square shapes painted in the colors suggested by the title. Studying the overall format, you find the various chromatic areas coming alive as dimensional elements articulating an incisive dynamism not evident at first glance. There’s magic in the way the artist transforms a supposedly flat, static surface before your eyes into a complex of geometric shapes moving spatially in relation to each other with a rare rhythm all their own. Elizabeth Osborne is represented in the exhibition by a painting titled “Equinox II.” It’s a large canvas given voice in passages of oil paint. A bold, horizontal shape of black and cool blue bands at the center provides contrast for a surrounding environment bathed in hot orange and bright yellow. The atmosphere generated by the total arrangement of modulated hues is optically intense. sensitively refined and decidedly hypnotic. To see these exhibitions at the Woodmere is to confront a group of works by artists who either were or still are engaged with the pursuit of their whole being in the process of fomulating their work. To encounter their conversion of raw material into eloquently expressive, aesthetic statements, is to feel the power and the determination of these artists to make the words “creative action” an all-consuming, living imperative. Woodmere Art Museum , 9201 Germantown Avenue Philadelphia, PA 215-247-0476 woodmereartmuseum.org 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.
Jennifer Levonian, The Oven Sky, 2011 Persona No. 3
Persona Photographs explore the true meaning of “identity” Soft Machine Gallery 725 No. 15th Street, Suite 7, Allentown, PA 484-838-4252 softmachinegallery.com November 3 through December 10 Reception 11/11, 6 to 10 pm
Max Victor Alper’s photographs (C-prints) explore fictional representations of self that individuals present to the world. Various roles assumed create different behavioral exteriors while psychological interiors are concealed. With these multiple roles, the true self is often lost, fragmented or forgotten. Alper also permits a glimpse into a secret, restrained emotional universe. Techniques used include grainy film, diffusion filters, light/shadow patterns, double exposures, unconventional camera angles/crops, exaggerated expressions, decorative makeup, masks and color tonalities. Alper’s images emerged after the death of his mother, his style moving away from realism toward fantasy. The images became “more dramatic, enigmatic, yet ultimately hopeful.” Max Victor Alper received his PhD from NYU and served as faculty member, administrator and Director of Communication/Media. He has exhibited in US/Europe and is a published author. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, he now spends time between Allentown and New York. The exhibition is part of Lehigh Valley Photography Month, part of InVision Photo Festival, presented by ArtsQuest.
W. Carl Burger, Versailles Revisited
A Different View No. 2 Invitational Exhibition of 12 Abstract Artists Coryell Gallery 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville, NJ Wed-Sun, 12 to 5 pm 609-397-0804 coryellgallery.com Through November 27 The 12 artists: Joy Barth was a delegate to the Soviet Union participating in the TAWA exchange exhibition in Moscow. Edie Wells Bristol uses a wide range of colors to create images of flowers and other abstract objects. W. Carl Burger, a former professor of Art at Kean University, had a retrospective exhibition at the Morris Museum. Maureen Chatfield studied at the Art Students League and the Pennsylvania Academy of fine Arts. Pat Martin’s powerful forms emerge through her brushwork as she develops her paintings. Lucy Graves McVicker uses watercolor, oil and other mediums to capture natural subject. Florence Moonan paints large abstracts and small paintings in oil or other mediums. Barbara Osterman’s compositions make visible the explosions of energy that envelope us. Nancy Shill uses cast-off paper and other articles in her mixed medium expressions. Emily Thompson has exhibited locally and at the Woodmere Art Museum and the Philadelphia Sketch club. Barbara Watts, a graduate of Pratt Institute, has won awards from many juried shows including The American Watercolor Society. Annelies van Dommelen is a painter, printmaker and award-winner who has exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions throughout a wide area. W. Carl Burger will give a demonstration of his work on Sunday, November 6, from 2 to 4 pm. The public is invited to attend.
How does where you are influence what you do? here. is an exhibition that looks at how an artist’s work is saturated with the experience of place. As the first school and museum of fine arts in the United States, for over 200 years PAFA has been committed to engaging and contributing to the vital conversations that define contemporary art in America. Continuing and refreshing this tradition, here. is a project that presents the work of twenty-four artists and artist collectives from six different regions of the country in an exhibition that explores how the work of the artist is saturated with his or her experience of place. here. looks at these artists through the eyes of six curators who live and work in the regions around Cincinnati, Detroit, Kansas City, Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham, and Philadelphia and, from this multi-centered point of view, considers what regionalism might mean in 21st century art. Recognizing the many different reasons why the exhibiting artists find themselves situated in the places they live and work, the project uses these stories to explore how the local oxygenates the global concerns of art with the particularities of history, location, community, displacement, and the vernacular.
Scott Hocking, Hephaestus and the Garden of the Gods, Snow
Persona No. 34
here. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 215-972-7600 pafa.org Through December 31
Man and Boy
WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED that a creaky old play penned in 1963 would be so prescient, not to mention mesmerizing? Well, Man and Boy has started the fall season off with a crackerjack production of Terence Rattigan’s nearly forgotten play. On paper at least, the work sounded dry and slightly sleep-inducing. To quote the promos for the work: “At the height of the Great Depression, ruthless financier Gregor Antonescu’s business is dangerously close to crumbling. In order to escape the wolves at his door, Gregor tracks down his estranged illegitimate son Basil in the hopes of using his Greenwich Village apartment as a base to make a company-saving deal. Man and Boy is a gripping story about family, success and what we’re willing to sacrifice for both.” Excuse me for nodding off…but it did seem to be dry and ho-hum. To my surprise, however, this resonant drama expertly directed by Maria Aitken is absorbing and an achingly trenchant character study of a father and son at a moment of crisis. The original work debuted in London and ran for only 69 performances, and when it hit Broadway it fared even more dismally with a mere 54 performances before it folded. Maybe it was the topic or the heavy allusion to homosexuality that turned off audiences in its day. It’s hard to pinpoint just why the work foundered and flopped. This Roundabout Production is perfectly cast, a rarity these days. Man and Boy starts out slowly and cannily unravels its tightly knitted plot. The clockwork attention to detail that intelligent audiences crave is laid out perfectly. Every plot point and nuance reflects upon the other. The play begins in the basement apartment of Basil Anthony 14
(Adam Driver) and his girlfriend Carol (Virginia Kull). The timeframe is an autumn night in 1934, and the entire play runs in “real time” from 6pm to 8:30pm. This gives the work an undeniably forceful momentum. The radio is bopping out the jazzy tunes of the day when the program is interrupted with a news flash about the international high-finance wheeler-dealer, Gregor Antonescu (Frank Langella). A very important merger is on the rocks amid murmurs of immense corruption, and Antonescu is dodging the police and the FBI all at once. When Basil hears this news, and that Gregor is in Manhattan, he starts to get jittery and stutters at the mere mention of his name. It should come as no surprise that this young man senses that after many years of no contact with his estranged father, he is on a collision course to finally meet up with the old man. Carol has no idea of the connection between the two men—until Gregor’s assistant and bodyguard (Michael Siberry) appears at the door and says that his father needs an overnight hideaway. He leaves out a small detail: Gregor hopes to save the merger and seal the deal before things close in on him. This business has to take place that night, in Basil’s apartment, and it has to be finalized or Gregor is financially ruined. There are moments in which the play does get too immersed in the minutiae of Gregor’s monetary dealings—shifting money to other accounts, selling bonds. This sounds eerily familiar to modern ears, and the Madoff scandal springs to mind. What’s old is new…or is it the other way around? The immense pleasure in this work is watching the performers interact with each other. Mr. Langella gives us a precise and chilling portrait of a man at his worst— he is despicable and cunning at every turn. Yet there are subtle traces of humanity that Langella shows us that shock as much as his inherent evil. His scheme to lock in the deal using his son as both bait and pawn are shocking. The parallel tale of a father and son battling their inner demons, and seeking some kind of resolution with their past, is equally potent and is the soul of the play. Adam Driver as son Basil shows his repressed fear and hatred of his father with astonishing skill. This young actor more than holds his own with Mr. Langella, and the final scenes between them are superbly realized. Finely crafted, expertly acted and directed, this show is a knockout. American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd Street, Manhattan. Limited engagement through November 27. Virginia Kull, Frank Langella, Adam Driver. Photo: Joan Marcus. David Schultz is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.
EDITED BY DAVID SCHULTZ
Billy Elliot The Musical 11/16-11/27
Merrily We Roll Along 11/2-11/6
This joyous celebration of one young boy’s journey to make his dreams come true is based on the hit film. Set in a small town, the story follows Billy as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class, discovering a surprising passion that inspires his family and his whole community. A big musical with an even bigger heart, Billy Elliot is brought to life by a cast of 45 and the Tony Award-winning creative team--director Stephen Daldry, choreographer Peter Darling and writer Lee Hall, along with music written by Elton John. Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Street, Philadelphia PA. (215) 893-1955. kimmelcenter.org/broadway1112
Stephen Sondheim turns the traditional showbiz musical on its head, in this compelling Broadway fable about friendship, compromise, and the price of success. Rueful and nostalgic, Merrily We Roll Along begins at the end, where we see the last connection breaking between a jaded composer and his youthful, idealistic ambitions. From there, we move backward through the lives of the composer and his two estranged friends, visiting each milestone of their personal and professional lives. Muhlenberg College Dept. of Theatre and Dance, Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, Allentown PA. (484) 664-3333.
Gruesome Playground Injuries 11/10-12/4 This sinister and creepy play chronicles the relationship between Kayleen (Charlotte Ford) and Doug (Keith Conallen), whose 30-year friendship spans broken bones, broken hearts, love and other disasters. Starting with a chance meeting in the school nurse’s office, Kayleen and Doug form a bond that will feed and sustain each one of them through the dangerous task of living. But when a neurotic masochist and an accident prone risk taker get together, will either of them be able to make it out alive? Amid the debris of their messy pasts, these Pablo Schreiber and Jennifer Carpenter in an off-Broadway lost souls are left with only production of "Gruesome Playground Injuries" one option, hope for the future. Written by Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo), and directed by Deborah Block. Theatre Exile, @ Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater, 2111 Sansom Street, Philadelphia PA. (215) 218-4022. theatreexile.org Northeast (Nordost) 11/3-11/6
The King and I captured the hearts and minds of millions with its charming story of a British governess brought into the court of Siam to tutor the King’s many children. Within the splendor of the Royal Palace, Anna and the King grow to understand one another and learn about each other’s cultures. This unique love story is told with one of the most glorious scores ever written. Music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street Philadelphia PA. (215) 574-3550. walnutstreettheatre.org
Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in the original production of “The King and I.”
Top Girls 11/4-11/12
The United States premiere of Northeast (Nordost), a play based on the true story of the infamous hostage drama in a Moscow theatre in October 2002. Told from the perspective of three women, the play narrates the occupation of the theater and the experiences of the audience members that were held captive for three days. Written by Torsten Buchsteiner. Directed by Tim Brown. Samuels Theatre, Tompkins Center Cedar Crest College, Allentown PA. (610) 606-4608. 16
The King and I 11/8-1/8
This challenging and pithy work reveals woman’s experiences at a pivotal moment in recent history. Set in the Thatcher years, historical and modern characters tell their stories in a conversation across ages and generations. Written by Caryl Churchill, this stinging work is a wild ride through a miasma of history writ large. Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, Bethlehem PA (610) 758-2787. zoellnerartscenter.org
reel news Water for Elephants (2011) Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz Genre: Drama Based on the novel by Sara Gruen. Running time 122 minutes. Rated PG-13 for moments of intense violence and sexual content. For memorable storytelling, coming-of-age stories take flight on the two wings of tragedy and romance. In this Depression Era tale, young Jacob (Pattinson) is well on track to follow his father’s footsteps as a veterinarian. He gets as far as his final exam at Cornell when a car accident kills his parents and derails his future. But adversity is just beginning to forge Jacob’s life. When he joins a circus run by a cruel taskmaster (Waltz) with a beautiful young wife (Witherspoon at her sensual, forbidden-love best), well, things get dangerously complicated. Add mistreated animals, especially a charismatic elephant, and the conflict escalates toward a final conflagration like a lit fuse on dynamite. Deeply developed characters and a lavishly rendered portrait of life in a 30s-era, one-ring circus make this story soar. Super 8 (2011) Cast: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler Genre: Sci-fi drama Director: J.J. Abrams Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and some drug use. Running time: 112 minutes. In the sub-genre of kids saving the world, the innocence of youth always outwits villains and triumphs when well-intentioned adults fail. In 1979, growing up in smalltown Ohio doesn’t offer much excitement for a group of 12-year-old boys. With the help of a 14-year-old babe, they channel their imagination and energy into making a Super 8 zombie movie. While filming at an isolated railroad depot, they witness a massive train wreck. Soon the military rolls into town and people mysteriously disappear. The kids, who saw things no eyes were supposed to see, know a covert cover-up when they see one… So far the story holds tight, suspense builds, and the kids are compelling. Then, like the derailed train, the story veers into sci-fi land filled with pyrotechnics and computerized effects. Ultimately the story survives and the ET-meets-Spy Kids finale preserves the kids’ innocence and saves civilization as we know it. Hint: Don’t leave when the credits roll or you’ll miss the second feature. Sarah’s Key (2011) Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Mélusine Mayance Genre: Drama Based on the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay. Rated PG-13 for thematic material including disturbing situations involving the Holocaust. Running time 111 minutes. In French, English, Italian, and German with English subtitles. The old saying that you can’t escape the past is true, sometimes even when it’s 18
REVIEWS OF RECENTLY RELEASED DVDS BY GEORGE OXFORD MILLER Ratings: =skip it; =mediocre; =good; =excellent; =classic
someone else’s past. In 1942, French police rounded up 13,000 Jews to ship off to Nazi camps. When the middle-of-the-night knock comes, ten-year-old Sarah (Mayance) locks her four-year-old brother in a closet, but the family never returns. Flash to the present to an American journalist, Julie, (Thomas) who researches the tragic event. She uncovers Sarah’s story and discovers she lives in the girl’s apartment. The story intertwines Sarah’s heart-rending struggle in the horror of the death camps with Julie’s modern life in Paris. The twin universe technique works best if the tension and drama in both narratives are equal. Though Thomas brings empathy to her role, Julie’s efforts to understand the past and cope with difficult decisions can’t compare with Sarah’s raw struggle for daily survival. It’s Sarah’s emotionally power-packed story that brings life to this compelling story. Documentary of the Month Cave of Forgotten Dreams Genre: Documentary Written and directed by Werner Herzog. Rated G. Running time: 90 minutes. Viewing the most priceless works of art in human history is by invitation only in this exclusive gallery. Deep in a mountain cave in France, artists portrayed life in their times with exquisite drawings of animals, signed their work with handprints and disappeared into the mist of time for 32,000 years. Then in 1994, cavers broke through a tiny opening and discovered the masterpieces. Suddenly, the Louvre became the second most important gallery in France, or perhaps the world. The government granted filmmaker Werner Herzog exclusive rights to film the phenomenal panels in life-like 3-D (theater only). His four-person team filmed four hours a day with battery powered lights, and they couldn’t step off the narrow aluminum footpath. We time travel the dimly-lit corridors like the ancient artists carrying flickering torches and gaze with wonderment at the bestiary of mammoths, cave bears, lions, bison, panthers, horses, rhinos. Incredibly, we realize that even 30,000 years ago, the creative spark in the human soul cried for expression.
The Ides of March
RECENTLY, I SAW A reference to how George Clooney’s The Ides of March is a throwback to the more edgy, character-driven dramas of the 1970s, which is somewhat true. It’s fine to honor elements of past cinematic styles and ideas if it leads to something new and exciting. That’s how any artistic medium evolves. Otherwise, we’d still be watching silent movies featuring mustache-twirling villains. Peddling the familiar as groundbreaking is when filmmakers get into trouble, and Clooney is up to his ears in it in The Ides of March. The movie presents us with Gov. Mike Morris (Clooney, who also produced and co-wrote the script), a war hero and Democratic presidential hopeful who needs to win the Ohio primary to guarantee the nomination. Helping Morris is crafty veteran campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and young press secretary Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), a charming, self-assured hotshot whose star is rising. Meyers is so coveted that the campaign manager for
Morris’s rival, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), courts the youngster, promising him that Morris won’t win Ohio. On a roll, Meyers then beds an attractive intern whose father is the head of the Democratic National Committee. Since the intern is played by Evan Rachel Wood, who perpetually looks like she’s about to star in a remake of Double Indemnity, it’s a given that her presence spells doom. The intern knows Morris intimately, an arrangement that could end his political career. If that doesn’t sink the candidate, his integrity will. Morris refuses to satisfy the demands of a senator (Jeffrey Wright) whose support could secure the primary. To make matters worse, a newspaper reporter (Marisa Tomei) learns of Meyers’s clandestine meeting with the opposition, a juicy scoop that suddenly jeopardizes his—and the campaign’s—future. Based on Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North, The Ides of March is so heavy on dialogue that we never feel the weight of these crises. Every one (and their revelations) involves tense conversations in dark, lonely places, which amounts to stock footage. As Meyers scrambles to
save the campaign, and his livelihood, there’s no sense of him discovering larger truths. Maybe if these didn’t involve shifty motives and lying—problems most of us encounter on a daily basis—the movie wouldn’t feel so gullible. Or broad. A cast featuring three Academy Award winners is stuck playing caricatures. Tomei, Hoffman, and Giamatti play frumpy political lifers. Clooney is the goodlooking, middle-aged, easily manipulated beacon of hope. Gosling, however, doesn’t even have a model to follow. Clooney and his writers have Meyers crafty one minute, naïve the next. It’s a classic example of screenwriters bending a character to fit the story’s whims. And it’s unnecessary: Gosling’s forte is playing morally imperfect characters. That Clooney reduces Meyers’ emotional crisis to youthful hubris and shock (Meyers, supposedly a PR pro, is stunned that a newspaper reporter isn’t his friend) is an insult to Gosling’s talent—and the audience’s intelligence. Artifice defines this film. Take away the all-star cast and the fortuitous release date, and you just have a lukewarm political thriller that doesn’t tell us anything new. Clooney has garnered a lot of goodwill as an actor (Out of Sight) and as a director (Good Night, and Good Luck) for not just participating in a string of blockbusters that appeals to the Entertainment Tonight crowd. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that he expects admiration for simply rubbing elbows with real life. As a director, Clooney needs to tap into how we’re feeling now, when a youthful, energetic president hasn’t delivered on his potential and Congress feels hopelessly and angrily divided. (False idols and promiscuous interns are so 1998.) There’s a movie to be made from those emotions. The Ides of March isn’t that movie because it can’t comment on where we are now or where we are headed. Take Shelter, now playing, and Melancholia, opening later this month in Philadelphia, speak more to the jittery mood of the populace. One is about a working-class guy tormented by apocalyptic visions. The other is a dreary, poetic drama centered around a planet on a collision course with Earth. Both are more honest than The Ides of March, which reveals that movie stars have finally learned that politics, like life, is not for the faint of heart. [R]
A senior critic at Filmcritic.com from 2002-07, Pete Croatto’s reviews, essays, and articles have appeared in Publishers Weekly, The Star-Ledger, Mad Magazine, and Deadspin.com. He writes about movies and other nonsense at http://whatpeteswatching.blogspot.com. Read Pete’s musings at whatpeteswatching.blogspot.com or follow him on Twitter, PeteCroatto.
keresman on film
CONOMICS IS NOT MY strong suit. But, it’s economics that drives the world in which we live, and sometimes drives members of the disgruntled masses to “occupy” Wall Street and riot in Greece and Great Britain. We live in a world where Guys in Expensive Suits make decisions/mistakes that cost some folks (investors, them that want to buy property, etc.) a great deal of money. “We must make sac-
axe fell. Here is where it gets complex, unless one is hep to the avenues of high-finance. Eric worked out an equation of sorts that predicts THE END of the firm for which they toil. Something to the effect of: They were constructing crap assets and selling them as investment grade assets; what-if-somebody-realizes they (their firm) were sitting on a mountain of junk, then unloaded them to unaware buyers. In other words: Have I got a deal for you: National Dust at $49/share! It’ll quadruple in value in 15 minutes! Of course, these shares aren’t worth the
rifices in order to survive,” Suits say, and anyone that ever been “downsized” (ah, for the old days of “laid off ”) knows that speech. But it’s seems the Big Cheeses themselves NEVER have to get around to “sacrificing”—they still get their year-end “bonuses.” (It’s the same old story: We, and by “we” I mean “you” plural must cut back on blah-blah-blurg…more on that later.) First-time director J.C. Chandor (who also scripted) has assembled a fine cast for Margin Call, a fictionalized version of the 2008 economic meltdown (Lehman Brothers?) on Wall Street: Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, Zachary Quinto (also a producer), Demi Moore, and doing some of his best work in a long time, Kevin Spacey. The scoop: Tucci plays Eric, a longtime executive at an unnamed Wall Street investment/trading-type firm. Eric gets his walking papers courtesy of two corporate fem-bots, but on his way out of the building (Jetson! Clean out your desk!), he hands a flash-drive to a young trader, an acolyte, Peter/Quinto and tells him to “finish” what he was working on before the
paper they’re printed on, but you don’t know that! When you lose your capital, your shirt, or your mind I’ll shrug and say, “That’s the way the market crumbles, bubie.” (Bear with me—I’d rather do geometry than high finance.) What this means to our Captains of Commerce is a LOT of concerned and puzzled looks at computer screens—even the massive curd CEO John Tuld (Irons) doesn’t fully grasp “the equation” of Eric’s. As I understand it: The firm is about to topple into the abyss—how do we (the firm’s generals and colonels) cover our asses and not lose too much money? The drama comes from the execs and worker bees as they come to grips with questions of integrity, money, more money, unemployment, potentially screwing some schmoes out of money, and will the firm have anything resembling a good reputation after the dust clears. Spacey has played icy corporate types before (Glengarry Glen Ross) but this one is a little different—even though his character worked for the firm for over 30 years he still has a few vestiges of a conscience and hints of a life be-
yond the firm. Spacey conveys more emotion and inner conflict with a movement of some facial muscles than Showya La Beef has in his entire career. Irons is an almost-too-perfect mix of erudite, coolly Machiavellian avarice and Mr. Spacely bluster. Even Demi Moore is good as Sarah, The Lone Woman in the Corridors of Power, a “risk assessment” wizard that predicted THE END sometime ago and got a don’t-make-waves pat-onthe-head (or fanny), almost a female counterpart to Tuld. (As with some of the Mad Men characters, you get the notion Sarah or Tuld would sell/trade their grandmother to Hugo Chavez if the price was right.) The younger staffers—Quinto/Peter, Paul Bettany/Will, and Penn Badgley/Seth are good but they’re mostly ciphers, the latter two vaguely hip young Wall Streeters that can’t talk for five minutes without the conversation turning to money (theirs or someone else’s). These characters grapple with certain levels of ambivalence, but it’s mostly the Ime-mine variety. Spacey’s Sam is maybe the only character that considers a bigger/broader picture. But that’s where Margin Call somewhat stumbles. We know from what we’ve seen (in this movie and in real life) these honchos’ “severance packages” will exceed what many Americans will make in a few years (or even a decade or so). So it’s a little hard to feel any sort of sympathy/empathy for the characters that get thrown to the lions. If Margin Call perhaps illustrated how this financial collapse would affect Joe & Jane Bagodoughnuts of Anytown USA, it might be a more engaging experience. As it is, we get lots of worried-looking men and women in their power suits speaking a lot of David Mamet-wannabe corporate/financial jargon. But at the same time, the world of punch-in punch-out types seems a billion miles away from these characters’ $300 lunches, private helicopters, summer homes in Hyannis Port, and $800/night “escorts” existences. Margin Call is worth seeing for the acting (especially Spacey’s), but as decent as it is, it could’ve been a lot better. Still, it was good to see a movie where the focus was acting (including actors over 40) and story (even if it was hard to follow) instead of fireball-explosions, testosterone-fueled fisticuffs and gunplay, a blaring hip-hop soundtrack, and magical midgets from Narnia. PS: In [ahem] real life, Irons commented on the inequities of the capitalist system thus: “People must drop their standard of living [so] the wealth can be spread about.” While I’ve nothing but respect for Mr. Irons as an actor, HO, HO, THAT’S RICH coming from a guy owning SEVEN houses (including a castle in Ireland).
Mark Keresman is a bon vivant misanthrope-abouttown who has contributed to SF Weekly, East Bay Express, Pittsburgh City Paper, Paste, Jazz Review, downBeat, Manhattan Resident and the men's room wall in the Squirill Hill Cafe.
( ) Or: How to turn a $10 million investment into $5,200.
DO YOU, AS A religious person, agnostic, or atheist, like to get into heated debates with your opposite number (i.e. a nonbeliever)? Or, do you dread these kinds of debates? If you’re the former and like to look at Liv Tyler and/or Patrick Wilson, this movie may warm you slightly…otherwise, The Ledge is a primo example of a Hollywood mercy killing. Somebody tumbled to the notion this indie drama was a turkey so it was released on but a few screens in a couple of big cities where it “grossed” a little over $5,200. Considering the budget for The Ledge was in the ‘hood of ten million (approx.), I’d say this is one for the “loss” column in the Great Excel Spreadsheet of Destiny. The scoop: Smugly hep horndog guy Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) falls for prim hottie Shana (Liv Tyler) shortly after she gets a job in the hotel he manages. But (you knew there had to be one), Shana is married to lizardeyed Joe (Patrick Wilson), a born-again religious fanatic right out of Central Casting, a boor that’s taking it (“it” being the Word of Jesus) to the streets. Did I mention Gavin is an atheist? Naturally Joe and Gavin clash, no, make that CLASH in a SNL’s Church Lady meets Yosemite Sam/Joe Friday vs. the Tim Leary doppelganger manner. Both guys are annoying as hell, obnoxiously strident and 24
overbearing stereotypes with all the depth of college freshpersons after two six-packs. Believe it or not, there ARE religious types out there that aren’t nightmarish goofs or lunatics, and not every atheist is a level-headed humanist. Joe and Gavin are both, simply, jerks. Tyler’s Shana is a former drug-abuser and seller of sexual favors with an overpowering compulsion to speak every line of dialogue in a monotone. It’s not certain that she “loves” Joe (who has all the zest of a three-day-old milkshake) but he helped in her rehabilitation so she likely feels “indebted” to him. (Strange yet true: In the movie Super Liv Tyler played a former drug addict who married Rainn Wilson; here, she goes deeper into her thespian self, expanding her range by playing a former drug addict married to Patrick Wilson in The Ledge. I have no idea if Health Ledger had anything to do with this.) Plot: Gavin stands out on a ledge of a tall, tall building, presumably to make a big hit on Broadway. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) The cops are called—police negotiator Hollis (an over-emoting Terrence Howard) tries to talk Gavin out of suicide, but he’s having a bad day himself— he learned this day that he’s been shooting blanks with his wife, bringing into question the paternity of his two children. In fact, he repeatedly asks Gavin to [I para-
phrase] “hold on” while he answers his cell phone! Hollis also “confides” to Gavin about his problems, which is exactly what a police negotiator would do with a guy contemplating jumping off a building. (Jeez, why didn’t the cops bring in Dennis Miller or Andrew Dice Clay to talk to Gavin?) The Ledge could have been a good movie, had mastermind/director/writer Matthew Chapman (the greatgreat grandson of Charles Darwin, no less) had interesting characters with shades of gray instead of full-blown jerky stereotypes; if the lovely Liv Tyler was more of an actress (as opposed to a beautiful presence), and if the characters’ dialogue rang realistic ([a close paraphrase]”I think if we were together we could be happy.” Gosh, REALLY?) Also, if Shana married Joe because he helped “save” her, how do we (or she) know she’s not “falling in love” with Gavin only because he’s offering her “an out” from her stuffy marriage, i.e. “saving” her? (Somebody get her to a 12-Step meeting, stat!) In other words, yet another movie with unlikable and unappealing characters that We duh Audience are supposed to “care” about (but do not). To think what Woody Allen could’ve done with these raw materials… .
PETE CROATTO Ratings: =skip it; =mediocre; =good; =excellent; =classic
Melancholia (Dir: Lars von Trier). Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgård, John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgård. Surreal drama from Danish rabble-rouser von Trier consists of two parts. The first
produced, doesn’t showcase Nannerl’s struggle: does she fulfill her ambitious music dreams or follow her domestic destiny? Conflicts continually get buried or brushed aside in favor of a utilitarian, just-the-facts approach that is as baffling as it is sleep in-
takes place at a lavish wedding that quickly becomes a disaster. The bride, Justine (Dunst), lapses into a deep depression as she discovers that no one can make her happy—not her dim-witted groom (Alexander Skarsgård), not her curt, cynical mother (Rampling), and not her sister (Gainsbourg), whose wealthy husband (Sutherland) can’t stop reminding everyone of his generosity. The second part has Justine returning to her sister’s estate as a mysterious planet named Melancholia moves uncomfortably close to Earth. In exploring the fallacy of a beloved custom (weddings) and the irrefutable (science) in an unforgiving modern world, von Trier has created an unsettling, sobering film. And he gets excellent performances from his cast, especially Dunst [see R. Kurt Osenlund’s interview on page 32]. But the writer-director spends so much time establishing atmosphere that he forgets to rattle our senses. Melancholia, unfortunately, is little more than an intriguing, anticlimactic disappointment. [R]
ducing. If the director can barely maintain an interest in the title character, what hope do we have? [NR] Take Shelter (Dir: Jeff Nichols): Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Kathy Baker, Shea Whigham. Here’s the movie you should see instead of Melancholia, a leaner, far more compelling look at the uncertainty that lies beneath our measured facades. Working-class family man Curtis LaForche (Shannon) is suddenly plagued by weird, frightening visions: Birds form into angry swarms, violently stormy skies appear before his eyes. At night, his sleep is interrupted by awful dreams of life run amok. Everybody else sees nothing. Considering his options and swallowing his feelings, a slowly unraveling Curtis decides to renovate the back yard’s storm shelter and fill it with supplies, an endeavor that isolates him from his family and raises questions among his neighbors. Moody, uneasy drama sticks with you, and is greatly aided
Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (Dir: Joann Sfar). Starring: Eric Elmosnino, Lucy Gordon, Laetitia Casta, Sara Forestier, Doug Jones. French-born Sfar has been infatuated with Serge Gainsbourg (1928-1991) since childhood. “He made it cool to be rebellious,” Sfar says of the legendary French singer-songwriter and hedonist. In Sfar’s vision of Gainsbourg’s life—which he insists is based on fact—an id-based creature (Jones) steers the young musician (played with grizzled cool by Elmosnino) toward commercial success and epic philandering. Certainly not a conventional biopic, writer-director Sfar’s dazzling visual style (influenced by Pan’s Labyrinth) and his narrative bluntness—without the reckless lifestyle, Sfar suggests that Gainsbourg wouldn’t have mattered—produces a memorable homage to a cultural institution, a one-man Rat Pack who straddled musical genres and Brigitte Bardot. “I’m fed up with mainstream heroes teaching me how to behave,” says Sfar, who’s perhaps best known as a comic book artist. His award-winning debut, a most unusual love letter, provides a refreshing alternative. [NR] 1/2 Mozart’s Sister (Dir: René Féret). Starring: Marie Féret, Marce Barbé, Delphine Chuillot, David Moreau, Clovis Fouin. This “re-imagined account” covers the not-so wonder years of Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart (Marie Féret, the director’s daughter) who spent her childhood thanklessly backing up her legendary younger brother. Nannerl, now 15, is chafing under the arrangement, especially since her tyrannical father (Barbé) refuses to nurture her aspiration to compose music. The young lady seems locked into a subservient, unrewarding life until a trip to France, where she falls for the recently widowed Dauphin (Fouin), who appreciates her beauty and her talents. Potentially ripe coming-of-age story loses juice way too soon. René Féret, who also wrote and 26
by the perfect casting of Shannon (Revolutionary Road), whose squirrelly intensity summons the best memories of Christopher Walken. Chastain (The Help), who is everywhere these days, is excellent as Shannon’s incredulous wife. Nichols also wrote the script. [R] 1/2
feature Old City Art IN A TROUBLED ECONOMY, people will cut out non-essentials in order to save money. Non-essentials might be anything from magazine subscriptions to purchasing perfumes on fragrances.net or books on Amazon. Buying art, be it an original work, print, serigraph or lithograph, would certainly count as a non-essential. The recent economic downturn has forced small art galleries to reinvent themselves. From Boulder, Colorado, to Santa Fe, galleries are realigning themselves to the times, not always an easy task. The Boulder Camera, for instance, reports that artists are now pointing to collaboration over competition. That effort, at least in Louisville, Colorado, is called Arts Hub, where “a collective of artists who share a calendar and organize free events to try and draw larger crowds and a buzz, rather than relying on individual sales of a handful of expensive pieces.” The number of art galleries in Santa Fe decreased from 103 in 2008 to a mere 84 member galleries today. In New York City alone, more than 24 galleries closed between 2008 and 2009. The economic freeze has also spawned a rash of books and websites dedicated to helping artists navigate troubled times. In Jack White’s book, The Mystery of Making It, a practical polemic for artists, we learn that fewer than 50% of Americans have ever visited an art gallery. So how are the art galleries in Philadelphia, and especially Old City, weathering the current economic draught? Edward A. Barnhart, a Center City architect who opened Always by Design (AxD) at 265 S.10th Street four and a half years ago, at first thought he would have to end art shows and sales at AxD by the end of the summer, but then decided to stretch things out until 2012. “We’ve had a trickle of sales from last year. We’d sell a piece or two in a show, but that’s it. Last spring there was a spurt of optimism. It began from the start of 2010 till early summer. I guess people were feeling that things were headed back in the right economic direction and they could be looser in discretional spending, but by mid-summer it totally tanked again,” Barnhart said. The extension was good news to AxD managing director Ryan Mc Menamin, who told me, “At the end of the year we will re-evaluate in what incarnation the gallery will be in the new year.” For several years now AxD has had to reinvent itself as a multi-purpose space in order to stay alive financially. In addition to housing Barnhart’s architectural practice, the gallery has rented out its space to theater companies as a rehearsal area, a reception area for author readings or private parties, film night or film castings venues as well as Philadelphia Fringe Festival rehearsals and presentations. Like most small galleries in the city, AxD might attract up to ten walk-ins a day for any given exhibit, a pale number when it comes to art sales. Barnhart believes that galleries can help their survival during economic downturns by being more active as a community resource. That, he says, is not about leasing prime space that goes for $2,000 a night. “That’s ridiculous. In a downscale economy, people are still looking to socialize, still looking to do the normal things they do, it’s just that they’re doing them in a less robust way.” In Old City’s Muse Gallery at 52nd North 2nd Street, collective member/artist Susan Wallack told me that Philadelphia could be doing a lot more to support the city’s burgeoning Old City art scene, which many have compared to SoHo in New York.
Top: F.A.N. Gallery. Middle: AxD Gallery. Bottom: Pentimenti Gallery. 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
“I was in SoHo before it was SoHo,” the former New Yorker said. “I can tell you right now that SoHo is a tourist destination. There are guided tours there in which people are walked in and out of the galleries. Philadelphia hasn’t gotten to that point yet.” If Wallack had her way, she’d have those fake Old City Benjamin Franklin tour guides take a walk on the wild side and extend walking tours of the area to include something else besides the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross House. “Walking around looking at the Liberty Bell is fine, but they need to have moving docents, who say to tourists that this is Philadelphia’s SoHo, and here’s a place to eat, or shop, and here’s an art gallery. New York’s SoHo was really promoted when it stopped being a lower part of Greenwich Village. It was promoted so well that the city changed parking regulations there. The city did everything they could to get people to visit and live there.” Could Philadelphia follow suit, despite the ruinous reputation of the Philadelphia Parking Authority? Although pleased that several of her Muse pieces sold, Wallack says that art gallery sales could be better in Philadelphia. “You go anywhere today, whether it’s to the Mall, to Bloomingdale’s, to Macy’s, and you see that these big stores are all empty. They don’t draw in the crowds they once did. And basically very little is happening now in the Philly art gallery world because everybody here is so uptight about spending money.” Muse was founded 34 years ago as an all-female arts collective on Rittenhouse Square. In the 1970s, Rittenhouse Square was still touting its legacy as Philadelphia’s version of Greenwich Village. Iconic Philadelphia legend/art collector Henry MciIhenny was still alive then, his mansion on the Square having become a magnet for international celebrities like Tennessee Williams and Andy Warhol (who once stayed there and made a sketch of Cecil Beaton’s feet). Other gallery owners, like Roger LaPelle, also had their starts there, until it became apparent that not enough people were coming to the Rittenhouse area to buy art. While both Muse and LaPelle would later move to Old City, Old City was not without a snag or two. In Muse’s case, one snag became landlords chronically addicted to rent increases. This problem necessitated one Old City move for Muse from the middle of 2nd Street to its present corner location. “Muse never let men in until the mid 1990s,” Director Nancy Halbert told me. “We don’t censor art. The environment of a co-op is different from a regular gallery.” Muse members, in fact, pay a monthly fee, attend monthly meetings, and take turns “sitting” in the gallery. Halbert, who’s taking time off from her directorship because she recently underwent a spinal fusion, describes herself as a figurative artist and mentions a recent review of her work by Philadelphia Inquirer critic, Victoria Donohoe. “It was a good review but I didn’t sell this time,” she says. “Muse cannot really rely on sales, and that is why we rented the space last August to five really great abstract painters from Bucks County. They paid the rent for August!” For Rodger LaPelle, who first opened his LaPelle gallery in 1980 in an old basketball court in the former Rittenhouse Fitness Club, moving to 122 N. 3rd Street in Old City was a life saving measure. “People just weren’t going to 20th Street and Rittenhouse Square Street, so now we are 26 years in this new location,” LaPelle says, adding that he thinks “the whole city must be depressed.” “I don’t get art students outside of First Friday, which is like a date night. No, I don’t see many art students from all the art schools. I don’t see the faculties; I don’t see the curators and I don’t see the out of town art tours anymore. I think somehow Philadelphia must have gotten bad press because we used to sell to people from Washington and New York. Of course, everyone is still depressed because Philadelphia only
62 NOVEMBER 2011
RYAN HULVAT LOVES TO photograph his mother-in-law’s dahlia field, an acre and a half of shaggy starbursts on a slaggy family farm in rural Bethlehem. His photos honor the good will of Shirline Moser, who donates proceeds from bulbs, cuttings and arrangements to her church’s food bank. For Hulvat, a professional photographer whose subjects include fashionable food and urban gardens, Moser’s flower patch brims with the beauty of charity. Hulvat’s portraits of his mother-in-law’s charitable dahlias will be displayed November. 4-27 at Home & Planet, a Bethlehem store that sells hip, ethical recycled goods. The show is part of a new photo extravaganza involving a whopping 41 venues this month in and around Bethlehem, Allentown and Easton. Lehigh Valley Photography Month doubles as a satellite for the first-year InVision Photo Festival, a November 3-6 Bethlehem feast of exhibits, lectures, workshops, competitions and portfolio reviews run by ArtsQuest, the non-profit parent of Musikfest. Visitors can see Andy Warhol’s Polaroids of celebrities, hear Michael Soluri discuss his documentation of NASA’s last space-shuttle mission, and shoot industrial night pictures in Bethlehem Steel’s former electrical repair shop. This big-picture event was organized by a big-picture person. Janice Lipzin directs visual arts and education at the Banana Factory, ArtsQuest’s community cultural center and one of InVision’s two locations. Over eight years she’s launched a digital photo teaching center, job-training photography classes for disadvantaged youngsters and a partnership between trained artists and cancer patients. A photographer, a former director of the Magnum photo agency and a breast-cancer survivor, she created InVision to spotlight photography’s unique ability to inform, inspire and incite. Lipzin also created InVision to unite the Valley’s historically divided communities, to make a disjointed region a little more jointed. She and her committee members linked an exceedingly wide range of subjects, styles and sites—lantern slides at an Easton museum, gender-bending self-portraits at a Bethlehem salon, pictures of a conductorless chamber orchestra at Symphony Hall in Allentown—in the hope that Allentonians will visit places other than the State Theatre in Easton and Eastonians and Allentonians will visit Bethlehem outside of Musikfest. Lipzin’s other mission is to showcase Pennsylvania as a hub for exceptional photographers. One of her key keystoners is InVision resident artist Mark Cohen, who for five decades has turned the streets of his native Wilkes-Barre into guerrilla theater. Armed with a wide-angle lens, a strobe and a hit-and-run attitude, he cuts off heads, skews legs and forces people to raise arms against his invasions of privacy. He’s a crazy choreographer and a sneaky sociologist who haunts the intersection of chance and circumstance, flux and fear. Cohen has a sweet side, too. His solo show at the Banana Factory includes a portrait of two kids under a cardboard box, a lovely view of childhood’s eternal Halloween. One of his best-known subjects, a youngster blowing a giant gum bubble, is one of the imThis page top: Eye Makeup. Judy Linn image of Patti Smith from “Patti Smith 1969-1976” This page bottom: Megan, Michael Soluri.
Geoff Gehman covered Walker Evans, Herman Leonard and other Lehigh Valley photographers as an arts writer for The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. He is the author of three books, including The Kingdom of the Kid, a memoir of growing up in the middle-class, long-lost Hamptons. He can be reached at email@example.com. 30
ages from his book Grim Street blown up to banner size and hung on a chain-link fence outside the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, an entertainment emporium that opened this spring at Bethlehem Steel’s former plant. Cohen’s disarming charm was shared by Andy Warhol, who grew up in Pittsburgh, once Bethlehem’s chief rival as America’s steel capital. Warhol’s glamorously garish Polaroids, exhibited through December 11 at Lehigh University, elevate non-celebrities to fashion models (a nameless Asian woman could be mistaken for a young Imelda Marcos) and reduce celebrities to dolled-up mannequins (John Denver squints in what could be mistaken for a bad yearbook photo). These sneakily subversive snapshots illustrate Warhol’s typically cheeky manifesto: “A good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.” A half-dozen of the festivals’ events chronicle Bethlehem Steel’s abandoned mill and the changing neighborhood around the mill, which closed in 1995. Ed Vatza’s images of blast furnaces and other industrial relics will be hung at the Sayre Mansion, an inn in a 19th-century home built by a founder of the Bethlehem Iron Works, the Steel’s predecessor. “Night Shift,” a November 12, 19
and 26 workshop on night photography, will be held in the Steel’s 1913 Electrical Repair Shop, future home of the National Museum of Industrial History. A 37,000square-foot industrial cathedral will become a studio with theatrical lights, fog machines and enormous props, including a 35-foot-long steam-powered water-pumping machine. For more than a century steelworkers grew vegetables and herbs behind row homes in the shadows of the Steel. The descendants of these gardens star in “In the Shadow of Tom Joad,” Hulvat’s photo essay on South Bethlehem’s cultural crucible. The project, which is excerpted at Home & Planet, continues his campaign to improve the emotional value of food—to show that it enhances ethnic pride, resolves conflict and bonds strangers. “Nobody asks you to sit down and eat unless they mean it,” says Hulvat, whose backyard is a miniature farm of broccoli, cauliflower and heirloom tomatoes. Lipzin plans to make InVision a bigger banquet table for soulful food for thought. This year she booked a book signing by Judy Linn, whose 1969-1976 portraits of Patti Smith helped establish the musician-poet as a punk priestess. Next year Lipzin would like to add photograph-
ic entertainers to the mix. On her short list is musician Graham Nash, a prominent collector and publisher of vintage photos, and filmmaker John Waters, whose movie Pecker follows the shocking impact of sudden fame on a funky amateur photographer and his funkier friends. Hulvat envisions another InVision project: a Manhattan jazz loft documented from 1957 to 1965 by W. Eugene Smith, best known for his humane photo essays on a rural doctor and victims of mercury poisoning. Hulvat suggests a lecture by the director of a Duke University archive that contains nearly 40,000 of Smith’s images of fabled performers (Zoot Sims, Sonny Rollins) and nearly 4,000 hours of recordings Smith made by wiring the building for sound. According to Hulvat, a five-floor building transformed into an ambient radio station would be a perfect fit for festivals that transform an entire valley into a photography lab. InVision Photo Festival, Nov. 3-6 at the Banana Factory, 25 W. 3rd St., Bethlehem, and the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem; 610-332-1300. Lehigh Valley Photography Month continues into January at 41 venues; artsquest.org/invision/partners.php.
interview The Upside of Apocalypse In the new Lars von Trier film Melancholia, Kirsten Dunst plays a deeply depressed bride who welcomes the destruction of the planet. But in Dunst’s own world, things have never been better.
R. KURT OSENLUND
BETWEEN SMALL SIPS OF grapefruit juice, Kirsten Dunst keeps giggling. It’s morning at the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo, and the 29-year-old actress, who’s been lending her smirky, all-American looks to movies since the age of seven, is still reeling from the night before, when she and True Blood hunk Alexander Skarsgård, her onscreen fiancé in the new Lars von Trier mind-rattler Melancholia, finally blew off some steam amidst a nonstop press tour for the film. “We celebrated,” Dunst says, her playful laugh and expression making it especially hard to believe that 17 years have passed since she played the youngest March sister in Little Women. “It was the first time we had a chance to celebrate.” She may not have much time for it, but Dunst—or “Kiki,” to her fans—certainly has cause for celebration these days. In addition to winning her the Best Actress award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, her performance in Melancholia is earning her the greatest praise of her career and putting her on the short list of contenders for this year’s lead actress Oscar. In the movie, which makes no bones about its ending (the world is spectacularly, unapologetically obliterated), Dunst plays Justine, a deeply depressed bride who strains to feign happiness at the start of the film, and whose name, one can only assume, is a nod to the Marquis de Sade’s doomed and tortured rebel heroine. Such is perfectly appropriate, considering that von Trier has gained a reputation for casting actresses in roles of near-sadistic turmoil, from Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves to Charlotte Gainsbourg in 2009’s Antichrist. In Melancholia, Gainsbourg stars opposite Dunst as Justine’s relatively level-headed sister, Claire. The two actresses chatted about working with their director while doing the rounds at Cannes (where, two years ago, Gainsbourg also picked up a Best Actress prize for serving as von Trier’s muse), and Dunst says she initially sought advice from her Spider Man-3 co-star Bryce Dallas Howard, who in 2005 got in front of von Trier’s camera for Manderlay. To the certain disappointment of sensationalist rags, the consensus seems to be that working for von Trier is by no means torturous, but rather liberating and, by all evidence, rewarding. “I was completely drawn in by Lars,” Dunst says. “I really love his films. I’m always drawn to directors first, and he’s one of the great auteurs of our time. He’s also one of the only ones writing roles like this for women. It’s just an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often for anyone.” Dunst would know. After more than two successful decades in the business, she certainly doesn’t have much reason to complain, but like most American actresses, highs like Spider-Man and Marie Antoinette and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are punctuated by lows like Elizabethtown and The Crow: Salvation and How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. She’s right: there just isn’t a flood of compelling roles out there. But Melancholia presents a meaty and challenging one, requiring the conviction to handle a mercurial rollercoaster that includes chirpy denial, profound discomfort, debilitating sadness, eerie aloofness, nudity, sex, and grace under the ultimate pressure—impending annihilation. It’s no secret that von Trier has been battling his own depression, and that it’s manifested in his work, from the crushingly troublesome mood evoked by Antichrist to the titular destructive planet in Melancholia, which, as it heads inexorably toward our comparatively puny orb, represents Justine’s heavy, ever-encroaching blues. Through the course of the movie, which is quite deliberately split in two, Dunst is tasked with
R. Kurt Osenlund is the managing editor of The House Next Door, the official blog of Slant Magazine. He is also the film critic for South Philly Review, and a contributing writer for ICON, Slant, Cineaste, Fandor and The Film Experience. He compiles his work and posts other goodies at his blog, www.yourmoviebuddy.blogspot.com, and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. 32
Food’s Silver Fox
Eric Ripert has gone far beyond the stove at his fabled Manhattan restaurant, Le Bernadin, starring on television and palling around with cooking’s bad boy, Anthony Bourdain.
A. D. AMOROSI
FOOD TELEVISION IS LITTERED with the still meaty bones of Philadelphia personalities. Throw a rock or a twelve-grain handmilled roll or a glazed short rib and you can hit winning Iron Chefs such as Jose Garces (Amada) and Masaharu Morimoto (Morimoto) and contenders like Michael Solomonov (Zahav). Adam Gertler may have lost his bit of season four of The Next Food Network Star (to Camden’s Aaron McCargo Jr. who now has his own Food Network show Big Daddy’s House) but won a hosting gig on that same channel’s programs Will Work for Food and Kid in a Candy Store. Ed Battaglia hung tough with Gordon Ramsay as a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen before signing on to open Ralic’s Steakhouse (he just left the Haddonfield restaurant). While restaurateur Stephen Starr has appeared as a judge on the television smash Top Chef, Philadelphia and Jersey area master cookers such as Mike Isabella (Graffiato) Jennifer Carroll (10 Arts, until last month) and victor Kevin Sbraga (who just opened his eponymous restaurant on Broad Street) have made the Bravo network program sizzle. Somehow though, food media’s most elegant presence is its most unexpected, the cool calm French export by way of New York City that is Eric Ripert. Of course, Ripert is far more of a citizen of the chef world what with his award-winning Le Bernardin in Manhattan and his Westend Bistro at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. But since 2008, he and his Chef de Cuisine Jennifer Carroll made Philly’s 10 Arts at the Ritz Carlton on the Avenue of the Arts a must-eat master course in fine white linen dining and subtle Parisian touches on American classics. “I def learned patience,” said Jennifer Carroll several days before she left 10 Arts for different pastures in the Philadelphia restaurant landscape yet to be concluded. “He taught me how to have refinement in my food and how to edit myself.” Beyond the glistening kitchen and the gilded pantry, though, Ripert has become a continental go-to guy on all things cooking television. Not continental in that hokey joking Christopher Walken Saturday Night Live way either: not a mustachioed boulevardier with a silk robe and a constant martini. Ripert has been a guest judge and assistant chef on the second, third, fourth and fifth seasons of Bravo’s top rated Top Chef. PBS has aired Avec Eric episodes culled from his on-line program “Get Toasted” (from aveceric.com) where the chef makes simple fast meals with a toaster oven. Ripert has done a helluva job playing himself on several episodes of the HBO cable show Treme. And “the Ripper” as he is affectionately known to his friend Anthony Bourdain, has appeared on the latter’s cutting No Reservations television show—a warmly humorous partnership that has brought the pair to the stage on several occasions as they shall be again on November 2 at the Merriam Theater. “No, I do not have a nickname for Anthony; I haven’t even considered one,” laughs Ripert from the offices of Le Bernardin when asked if he’s ever had a fun tag line or a silly name for his pal Bourdain. “Perhaps, though, I should reconsider this quickly.” Bourdain and Ripert met after the former wrote and published his scathingly hard and hilariously heartfelt book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly in the year 2000. In it Bourdain was remarkably kind and complimentary to Le Bernadin. “He had a lot of nice things to say about us,” states Ripert who recalls inviting Bourdain to lunch with a quick friendship immediately following. They are an odd couple to be sure, the brusque Bourdain and the stately Riperty. What bonds them is passion for food and respect for the industry. “He is a man of high values to be sure,” says Ripert. “I truly appreciate that. It is a friendship so natural that I don’t even think about it.” So natural then is their pal-hood that their stage patter is improvised, different each time they’ve done it. “The dialogue is always unique. We agree. We disagree. There are a lot of laughs, yes, but there is a lot of information. Our show is about our world—the business, the food, the industry, the reverence and an eye toward its mediocrity. “ Bourdain isn’t the only harsh critic. Having watched how tough Ripert can be on Top Chef, you can see and hear that Ripert has
Photo: Eric Ripert (no hat) in the kitchen of Le Bernadin.
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. 34
THE TITLE OF THE book is open to interpretation. I have enjoyed Calvin Trillin’s 40 years of funny stuff in the pages of The New Yorker and The Nation with his “deadline poetry” and comic novels. Trillin is known for courtesy, urbanity and good humor. We sat in the bar of the Omni Hotel to tape my radio show and dealt with subjects such as the horrors of witnessing the mystery of how his dear mother managed, for thirty long years, to feed her family nothing but leftovers. Calvin Trillin: We have a team of anthropologists in there looking for the original meal. Ralph Collier: Apropos food, let’s segue to your Fruitcake Theory. CT: The theory was that there is only one fruitcake and that this fruitcake is simply sent on from year to year. It’s just a theory. Long ago, they put it on the table,
Trillin lives in Greenwich Village, which he describes as “a neighborhood where people from the suburbs come on weekends to test their car alarms.” not as a dessert, but something somewhere between an icon and a centerpiece. RC: Are you implying that fruitcakes would be dangerous to eat? CT: Well, you wouldn’t eat an antique. My Uncle Herbert used to chew on an old sideboard now and then, but we always considered it odd behavior. There’s nothing wrong about fruitcakes as long as people send them along without eating them. If people ever started eating them I suppose there might be need for federal legislation. RC: How about people who buy fruitcakes for themselves? CT: Nobody in the history of the United States has ever bought a fruitcake for himself. People have bought turnips for themselves. People have bought any number of brussel sprouts for themselves. But none has ever bought a fruitcake for himself. That does tell you something about fruitcakes. RC: Are you saying that everybody, secretly hates fruitcakes? 36
CT: Well, it’s just a theory. RC: Meanwhile, let’s discuss the true story behind the Shoe Bomber. CT: The one terrorist in England with a sense of humor, a man known as Khalid the Droll who said to his cellmate, “I bet I can get them all take off their shoes in airports.” RC: Your humor has been described as prescient, insightful and invariably hilarious. How do you zero in on Dick Cheney’s head? CT: One mystery I have tried to disentangle: Why Cheney’s head is always at an angle. I feel the code is broken, after years of trying: He only cocks his head when he is lying. Also, why as CEO, he wouldn’t know what Halliburton’s books were meant to show. RC: The book is pervaded by pettiness and his unreliability as a narrator is pronounced. As a food writer you know that the primary requisite for writing well about food is a good appetite…and one is not to waste time minimizing the intake of cholesterol. What is your objection to club food? CT: I thought the food was awful. It was at a time that I realized when it comes to food in clubs in this country, the tastiness of the food is in inverse proportion to the exclusivity of the club. I finally figured out the reason these people serve food that tastes like balsa wood: they
associate garlic and spices and schmaltz with just the sort of people they’re trying to keep out of the club. RC: And you feel that supper was served a full eight hours after people at home had theirs. CT: In Kansas City we generally get everyone fed before dark. RC: Perhaps that is among the reasons Kansas City is one of the most misunderstood cities, perpetually branded as a flatlands flyover. CT: Anyway, in city clubs, snotty looking waiters would come out bearing great silver bowls and in the bowls—chicken a la king. Not as tasty as Kiwanis Club chicken a la king, but still chicken a la king. In fact, according to one theory, that’s why some people from that background talk without opening their mouths, in that marvelous way. RC: In Philadelphia, it is known as the Main Line Lockjaw. CT: The theory is that the glop that chicken a la king floats around in—particularly when it is allowed to react chemically with silver, particularly when the silver has been in the family for five or six generations—causes teeth to bond together. RC: What are your plans for the Christmas holiday? CT: For those tiring of White Christmas and Jingle Bells, I’d like to spend next Christmas in Tibet. Or any place where folks cannot remember that there is something special in December. Tibet is about as far away as you can ge. I’d like to spend next Christmas in Tibet RC: Before I let you go, you have a two-liner on the effect on his campaign of the release of George W. Bush’s College Transcript. CT: Oh, yes. Obliviously on he sails / With marks not as good as Quayle’s. Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff, by Calvin Trillin. Published by Random House www.randomhouse.com
Ralph Collier is a member of the Society of the American Travel Writers, the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association, and the International Motor Press Association. His syndicated programs are heard on 32 radio stations and through their web sites worldwide. Locally, he can be heard Monday through Friday at 9:58 a.m. on WRTI 90.1 FM.
food & wine
Champagne IT IS THAT TIME again… the Holidays. There will be entertaining; we will be invited to parties; the year will move, in all its televised, second-by-second, glory from 2011 to 2012, and we will need to have something to drink. Something with bubbles beyond 7-Up, Sprite or Seltzer. Something alcoholic. The go-to drink for the holidays is, of course, Champagne or other sparkling wines. (If a wine is not made from grapes grown in the French Government’s officially designated “Champagne Region,” then it cannot be labeled “Champagne.” All other wines, whether made according to the same méthode champenoise or by another process, are sparkling wines.) Champagne and sparkling wine sales are once again growing after the recession of 2008-2009. Shipments from France for the year of 2010 were about 315 million bottles. This is approximately the same as the pre-recession 2007 levels, according to the Champagne Bureau, or Comité InterproMarilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell in The Seven Year Itch, 1955. fessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC). So, there should be plenty to go around. I was happy to take part in the Institute of Masters of Wine Annual Champagne Tasting a couple of weeks ago. Almost 100 Champagnes were set out in large metal ice tubs at Christie’s Auction house in Rockefeller Center. There were Blanc de Blancs (made only from the white Chardonnay grape), there were Non Vintages (NV: blends of wines from different years) and Vintages (made from grapes picked in one year), Roses (from the red grapes Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier) and Blanc de Noirs (made only from those two red grapes but not allowed to pick up color from the skins); and there were Secs (dry) and Demi-secs and Dosés (somewhat sweeter). I found the Rose Champagnes to be very impressive overall. They tend to have more body, and the color is a celebration in itself. There is a broad price range for these wines, so online shopping can result in a good value. Patricia Savoie is a wine and culinary travel writer. She can be reached at WordsOnWine@gmail.com 38
RECOMMENDATIONS NON-VINTAGE L. Aubry NV Brut: Dry with a lot of finesse. ($41-49) Cuvee Reserve Marc Hebrart NV Brut: Toast notes and clean white fruit. ($40) Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut NV: Citrus, spice and yeasty notes. ($49-59) Jean Lallement Brut NV: Rich with herb and toast touches. ($39-59) Bruno Paillard Brut NV: Pear, earth and lemon. Good body makes it perfect with food. ($40-49) Alfred Gratien Brut NV: Creamy and buttery with red berry flavors. ($39-45) Taittinger “La Francaise” Brut NV: Apple, spice and a little coconut. ($33-47) Vilmart et Cie “Grand Cellier” Brut NV: Elegant tropical fruit and apple essences. ($40-50) BLANC DE BLANCS Ayala 2004: Complex and intense with classical Chardonnay tropical fruit hints. ($63-70) Charles Heidsieck “Blanc des Millenaires” 1995: Small quantities made. Lovely, elegant. ($165-190) Henriot NV: Light body with green apple, nectarine and mineral notes. ($32-40) Pol Roger 1999: Lemon and white peach with a smoky note. A fine wine. ($100-130) ROSE L. Aubry NV Brut: Tart strawberry and cherry. Orange-pink. ($48-58) Henriot NV Brut: Full flavor in a light pink wine. Berries and spice. ($53-64) Moet & Chandon “Imperial Rose” NV Brut: Pink wild roses, toast and black cherry. ($55-65) Laurent Perrier “Cuvee Rose” NV Brut: One of the “Best in Show” bottles for me. Raspberry, currant, and other berries. Fresh and supple. ($75-100) Taittinger “Prestige” NV Brut: Flowers in the nose over cherries and lovely yeasty notes. ($50-65) Lallier NV Brut: Another “Best in Show.” Dry with apple and strawberry fruit. Rose petals Accent the deep raspberry color. A value. ($27-44) VINTAGE Nicolas Feuillatte “Millesime” 2004: Like a perfect strawberry tart. ($35-52) Gosset ”Grande Millesime” 2000: Pink grapefruit, honey and vanilla. Rich. A food wine. ($55-90) Laherte Freres “Prestige” 2004: Herbs and white fruits. Worth seeking out. ($50) Bruno Paillard 1999: Floral and white fruit with citrus and spice developing. Liners in the mouth. ($60-85) SWEETER Taittinger NV “Nocturne” Demi-Sec: White flowers and ripe apricots. Great with a vanilla mousse. ($70-80) Pol Roger NV “Rich” Demi-Sec: Nice acidity balances the delicate sweetness of ripe pear. ($47-50)
Fond, 1617 East Passyunk Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148 (215) 551-5000. TuesdaySaturday 5:30-10 PM fondphilly.com
food & wine
SO MANY GOOD RESTAURANTS, so little time. How to sort out the finest of the lot, that’s the rub. One way to vet the long list is to ask talented chefs their opinions. That’s what I did and, accelerated by some reader suggestions, it led us to Fond. Early this year, I asked Executive Chef Alan Heckman (the transformative force behind Washington Crossing Inn’s dining operation) what his choices are for the top regional restaurants. Alan answered without hesitation: “Fond: Great food, great desserts, great front of the house.” Alan was spot on. In its short lifespan, Fond has ascended into the ranks of topnotch Philadelphia dining spots. Fond’s excellence starts at the front door. Unflappable, affable Manager Tori Keomanivong has embedded the kind of stylish, no-detail-missed service notable in cosmopolitan, chichi eateries without sacrificing the casual, familiar hominess of the neighborhood BYOB. Tori forges that rare alloy by tapping his experience. He perfected his métier in world-class establishments like Founders at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue and Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel. Thus he and his Fond waitstaff is gathering accolades. Philadelphia Magazine recently honored Fond’s Steve Schiavo as Philly’s Best Waiter, noting: “[Schiavo] knows his stuff. He’s funny. He’s charming. He comes bearing awesome food and doesn’t stick his thumb in the soup.” They’re right. Steve Schiavo is all that. And the food he delivers is awesome. Chefs Lee Styer and Jessie Prawlucki, both CIA grads, pair for a nonpareil one-two punch. Lee was sous-chef at Lacroix and Le Bec-Fin. Jessie was Executive Pastry Chef at the latter—a doubly impressive post, given the near-reverence accorded the Le Bec-Fin pastry cart. Fond’s concise menu is inviting in both gastronomic appeal and price. Entrées hover near the mid-$20s, appetizers cluster around the $12 mark. French influence is pervasive but hardly monopolizes the recipes. Seared Foie Gras is accompanied with lemon cream cheese and figs. Foie Gras soup, a recent special, is sinfully silky—a study in nuance—the soup is velvet richness in a spoon. Fresh kernels of corn stud Corn Risotto along with pancetta and cilantro. Ribbons of avocado purée redolent of fresh basil meander down the sides of the plate with lively sherry reduction adding to the harmonized medley. Crispy Veal Sweetbreads partnered with sweet and sour grilled eggplant in a pool of mint harissa. This sublimely integrated composition ranks among the region’s best sweetbread preparations. Main courses, which some top chefs tend to accord less TLC than the appetizers, are notably outstanding. Certainly foodies can feast on apps alone at Fond, but the imagination and creative capital invested in the main dishes is at parity with the apps—a parity that, given the current popularity of small plates, is becoming rare. The Skate Wing entrée rivals the delicious skate recipes Olivier Desaintmartin consistently presents at Caribou Café and Zinc. Lightly browned and heavenly light, skate “fingers” stretch out over pillows of house-made gnocchi afloat in a pool of red-pepper coulis dotted with red piquillo peppers. Skirt Steak is cooked with grilled red onion and served with a slice of fresh tomato in a Bordelaise sauce with a smooth hit of goat-cheese compote. Grilled Octopus glistens white and succulent atop white-bean purée bordered by a deep green mound of warmed kale. Unlike most BYOBs, Fond has its own pastry chef—and not just any pastry chef. Jessie Prawlucki is a product of the CIA and the Le Bec-Fin pastry operation. To say the least, it is rare to find desserts at a BYOB that measure up to those on the iconic dessert tray at le Bec-Fin. End-of-dinner or end-of-evening treats like Jessie’s pistachio tarte and house-made malted milk ice cream with house-made peanut brittle are extraordinary by any measure. And here’s good news for local foodies (though you probably have already discovered it), as we go to press, Jessie plans to open her own patisserie, Belle Cakery, at East Passyunk and Dickinson.
Despite all its accolades, Fond retains the bonheur of a restaurant with its feet on terra firma, confident of its own excellence sans the swagger. There’s no need to deal with attitude for fine dining. Cross those dinosaurs off your gotta-go-to list. After all, there are so many fine restaurants in our region. And so little time—only time enough to visit the finest. Make some time for Fond.
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Karla’s HOTEL Modern Cuisine h Classic Comfort
food & wine
Corner of Swan & Main Lambertville, NJ 609-397-3552
ICON DEVOTED MOST OF the past summer trumpeting good alfresco spots. Alas, now as always, summer has the urge to leave and we have to let her go—but not before sounding a final (sort of) alfresco flourish. Karla’s is a popular place in New Hope whose unusual layout houses the dining area under a large, airy atrium. So, when the weather is warm, Karla’s, à la Bourbon Street, opens its windows and ceilings to transform into a glorious open-air restaurant. But when it’s not alfresco season, Karla’s airy, high-ceilinged atrium still manages to have a liberating, irrepressible en plein air ambiance. And in every season, Karla’s vista over a sweeping and lovely New Hope streetscape is terrific. Karla’s is located next door to Zoubi, which is ICON’s perennial pick as the top of the alfresco dining spots. The location at the corner of Mechanic Street and Main Street places it in-but-out (or out-but-in) of the dead center of this vibrant borough. Louis Zanias, a Greek immigrant and European traveler, operates both Karla’s and Zoubi. Although each eatery has a laid-back European feel, the cuisine at each is decidedly different. Under the aegis of talented French chef François Morvan, Zoubi serves superb, classic French cuisine. Karla’s delivers more casual fare, ideally suited to its casually elegant, accommodating interior with its intriguing nooks and crannies that still breathe an extra dimension into dining here. Chef Francisco “Poncho” Barrios heads Karla’s kitchen, ably assisted by Pastry Chef Shawn “Cakes” Lawson. The team draws from a number of different culinary traditions. They’ve cobbled together a reliable menu that has something for foodies, while managing to retain a loyal cadre of locals and regulars. There are also a number of items for whetting the whistles of passersby seeking only a quick bite to punctuate their New Hope crawling. Satisfying that disparate demographic has resulted in an appetizer list where the upscale cohabits with the mundane, whose quality never tumbles to the realm of the run of the mill. Thus “Junkyard Fries” (with cheese sauce, caramelized onions and jalapeña—sinfully tasty,), Buffalo Wings, and Baked Macaroni & Cheese (a surprisingly delicate preparation), reside with more foodie-friendly offerings like Poached Pear salad and stellar Mussels in White Wine. The Poached Pear Salad—a dinner in itself for $12—perches a delicately poached pear atop a generous bed of fresh mixed greens crammed with walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese drizzled with Port Wine dressing. Baked Brie, made with authentic French Brie (the association with the Zoubi kitchen has its perks) is served with toasted almonds in fruity apricot glaze. Tender calamari, clad in panko crumbs, is airily light. A recent special: the Mussels in White Wine Sauce are sublimely fresh and tender with nary of hint of odor. But my personal (very) guilty pleasure remains the Gorgonzola Garlic Bread, which is French bread amply stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese and lathered with herbed garlic butter. For years, Karla’s has been the midway meeting spot of choice with some New York friends. Evenings typically go overtime with multiple orders of garlic bread vanishing along with successive rounds of specialty drinks. Among the entrées, Panko-Crusted Cod is browned to a golden glow, and served with ambrosial curried coconut and carrot sauce. The curry breathes an undercurrent of heat into a scrumptious blend of flavors in this tasty dish. A zesty mix of Mideast herbs is rubbed onto the skin of Moroccan Duck. The recipe and preparation make this dish Zoubi-worthy. Braised Short Ribs and Scallops have been a house favorite for years—and with good reason. The dish spans the comfort food/upscale food gap, passing muster on each level. The firm texture of the scallops plays off well against the melt-in-the-mouth meat. The accompanying mushroom risotto adds both a nutty base and another texture. Pork Chop is stuffed with spinach and walnuts moistened with cream cheese and mustard cream. I should mention that prices are right, too. The Stuffed Pork Chop at $24 is one of the most costly menu items. If time or mood doesn’t allow for a full dinner and you’re simply enjoying the New Hope scene, you’ll find some sandwiches that surpass the run-of-the-mill: Beef Brisket and Soft Shell Crab heated with Pico de Gallo and mellowed with avocado sauce is tasty as are Mahi Mahi Sliders. Yes, the warriors of winter are giving their annual cold, triumphant shout. You just won’t hear it at Karla’s. Karla’s, 5 West Mechanic Street, New Hope, PA 215-862-2612. karlasnewhope.com Please send comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
food & wine
THANKSGIVING IS A TIME of traditions, and there is no tradition more meaningful than the annual U.S. Department of Agriculture warning about fatal food-dwelling bacteria. This year, I’m pleased to report, the department has outdone itself: For the first time ever, the department has officially advised Americans not to stuff their turkeys. Many alert readers sent in an Associated Press item in which the manager of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Hot Line—whose name is (I am not making this up) Bessie Berry—is quoted as saying: “Improperly cooked stuffing can cause serious illness or even death.” I am frankly wondering if stuffing should be regulated, like assault rifles, to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. BANK TELLER: May I help you? ROBBER: Hand over the money! SECOND BANK TELLER: Do as he says! He’s holding improperly cooked stuffing! But the looming specter of a painful death should in no way dampen the festivity of your Thanksgiving dinner. Just make sure the food is prepared in accordance with federal guidelines (“STEP ONE: Lighting The Blowtorch”). And before you eat, don’t forget to bow your head for the traditional prayer of thanks (“We thank Thee for this
bountiful meal and ask Thine forgiveness for the fact that we hath ordered pizza”). Another traditional thing you should do is teach your kids the true meaning of Thanksgiving. I suggest you have them put on the following historical play, “The Very First Thanksgiving,” which I wrote myself after several backbreaking minutes of research in the encyclopedia. THE VERY FIRST THANKSGIVING (Scene One: Some Pilgrims are standing on the deck of the Mayflower.) FIRST PILGRIM: Well, here it is, the year 1620. SECOND PILGRIM: Yes, and we have been on this tiny ship, the Mayflower, for many weeks, fleeing persecution in England because of our religious views. FOURTH PILGRIM: Also, we wear hats that look like traffic cones. FIRST PILGRIM: What happened to the Third Pilgrim? SECOND PILGRIM: He’s throwing up. FOURTH PILGRIM: Hey, look! There’s Plymouth Rock! Pull over, captain! LONG JOHN SILVER: Arrr. (Scene Two: The Pilgrims are standing on the shore.) FIRST PILGRIM: Well, this looks like a barren area with poor soil and harsh winters, offering little chance for our survival. OTHER PILGRIMS: Perfect! ROBBER: Hand over the money! FIRST PILGRIM: Hey! You already did your scene in this column! ROBBER: Whoops. SECOND PILGRIM: Look! A Native American! NATIVE AMERICAN: Fortunately, I speak English. My name is Squanto. FOURTH PILGRIM: “Squanto”? What kind of name is “Squanto”? SECOND PILGRIM: It sounds nasty! It sounds like, “Mom! The dog made Squanto on the linoleum!” FIRST PILGRIM: What’s “linoleum”? SECOND PILGRIM: I have no idea. SQUANTO: I’m going to show you how to plant maize and beans using alewives, shad or menhaden as fertilizer. FOURTH PILGRIM: “Alewives”? SQUANTO: That’s what it says in the encyclopedia. (Scene Three: One year later.) FIRST PILGRIM: Well, here it is, one year later. SECOND PILGRIM: That was a pretty harsh winter. FOURTH PILGRIM: That was definitely the last winter I plan to spend in a small confined space with people eating a diet of maize and beans. FIRST PILGRIM: Also, as you will recall, we had a lot of starvation and disease, the result being that half of us are dead. SECOND PILGRIM: Time for a celebration! (Scene Four: The Pilgrims and Squanto are seated at a banquet table.) FIRST PILGRIM: So here we are, at the (burp) first Thanksgiving. SECOND PILGRIM: I definitely want the recipe for this alewife dip. FOURTH PILGRIM: Hey, Squanto, what are those drums saying? SQUANTO (after listening for a moment): Lions 14, Bears 7. FIRST PILGRIM: You know, Squanto, without your help, we never would have survived this winter. So we’ve decided to take over all of North America and pretty much obliterate your culture. SQUANTO: Sure. FIRST PILGRIM: Really? You don’t mind? SQUANTO: No, not at all. FIRST PILGRIM: Great! SQUANTO: Try this stuffing.
LET’S FACE IT—NOVEMBER will never win any “Miss Congeniality” contests. It’s the month that hints darkly of what’s ahead: short days, chill winds, and the odious thoughts of where the snow shovel is. But November also brings that last Thursday when we gather together to ask the Lord’s blessings…and to remember, perchance, those already bestowed. I’m not a list-maker. And no one has ever accused me of being an organized thinker. But somehow, November, for me, brings a reckoning, a realization that my cup runneth over. Not always, of course. Lest you think I’m Little Mary Sunshine, rest assured that I have my cranky, whiny, nasty, ungrateful times. Plenty of them. Just ask my husband. But enclosed within this year, that husband and I have had the simplest, sweetest pleasures. On some summer nights, we sat in the silent dark and just listened to the crickets singing. We had time with grandchildren, although never enough. And we even managed a brief escape from routine. It wasn’t Paris in the spring. It wasn’t the Italian countryside. It was simply one of those moments in a long marriage when we said “No more!” and meant it. No more treadmill of work, pressure, tension, the daily grind. We ran away from home, not to join the circus, but to catch up on one another at an inn in Vermont. Somehow, we managed the feat of three days of utter serenity. We ate blueberry muffins, walked in a meadow—a real meadow—and found a tiny antique plate in a dusty old antique shop that occupies a place of honor in our curio cabinet. For that blink of time—for that reprieve from headlines and deadlines and mayhem—I will send up thanks this Thanksgiving. I sometimes feel like an ingrate for not celebrating these small graces of life: A washing machine that is older than Hannah, our 18-year-old granddaughter. And still works. Ditto for its buddy, the simple, no-frills dryer that has sputtered and coughed occasionally, but that still delivers. The exquisite joy of finding an old wooden table for $8 at a yard sale. That table has become my favorite show-off piece. I think most of us forget those minor miracles that get us through our days—a daughter who calls just when I’m feeling lost and lonely, the marvelous moment when a grandchild takes a bow in the third grade play and I’m there to see it—the night of perfect sleep when I didn’t— ahem—dream of it. In Thanksgiving season, I remind myself that I still have Joycie, my incredibly loyal, incredibly wise, unabashedly honest childhood friend. Joycie knows me better than I know myself sometimes, and chides me when I need chiding. She also reaches out to hug me all the way from Portland, Oregon, when she can tell by my voice on the phone that something’s flattened me. And yes, we still phone because e-mail doesn’t suffice for two women who once shared all our secrets and our very souls. Do I remember to thank her for accepting me and loving me like no friend ever has, or would be expected to? Probably not. So for me, it’s those little stabs of recognition that blessings are not always monumental, or even noticeable, from one Thanksgiving to the next. Blessings come in small, medium, large and extra-large, and I welcome them all. I celebrate my occasional morning raisin bagel (small blessing) and my Phantom of the Opera CD (medium) I rejoice in the words of my earnest doctor when he says my blood work has made the honor roll (large). And I want to weep in gratitude when our family gathers around the Thanksgiving table (extra large table, extra large blessing) to pause in the whirl of life and hold tight to one another, at least symbolically. The older we get, the more my husband and I realize that these holidays are markers in the time line, and that we’d better seize each one and make it count. Weeks gallop away. Months blur into one another. Whole seasons collapse. So this Thanksgiving, remember the jumbo blessings, of course. But also count up the tiny ones. And please do make your Thanksgiving overflow with every last one.
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: PINEGANDER@aol.com. 44
JAMES P. DELPINO
IMPROVING YOUR CONNECTION IS ultimately about the joy of bonding and the thrill of being in a mutually fulfilling relationship. It seems a good many of us are able to get close to other people, and then they encounter barriers that prevent them from getting closer or sustaining the bond they once had. When people feel unable to get close they speak most often about the fear of getting hurt. This fear of getting hurt (again) is most frequently caused by having been hurt after bonding with and trusting another person. These negative bonding experiences, driven by fear, most often limit just how close a person might allow himself to be to another in a relationship. Very few people just seem to know the right things to do or say when it comes to engendering bonding and trust. This may be the result of keen observation and intuition or the mark of a very highly developed person. A good many people assume that another person should be able to read their thoughts or feelings much like having psychic abilities. This is often expressed as: “If you really loved me or cared about me, you’d know.” Because most people do not have an unerring ability to read others accurately we humans have communication to clear up what is not clear between us. The best communications are the least neurotic and least defensive exchanges. If we want someone to know what we’re thinking and/or feeling we have to approach them in a way that does not raise their defenses. Of course, the best way to do this is to avoid attacking, blaming, judging and mocking. These are all defensive communication approaches that do not promote bonding. They may be helpful in winning a fight or getting the other person to agree, but that does not always deepen a bond. If we want to improve our capacity to connect better and deeper with communication we must first decide whether it is more important to be right, or if it’s more important to get along and connect better. Relationships are a bit like a three-legged race at a picnic. The two people cross the finish line together. If they work well together they cross the finish line sooner and enjoy the victory longer. Working better with others means keeping your communication positive, upbeat, friendly and encouraging. This is the direct way to express what we want, and
more importantly, what we need from another person. It’s analogous to the method used in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, wherein the “taming” was done with kindness and respect. Communicating non-defensively requires two people to stay in a state of relatively little defensiveness. This requires a feedback or validation loop. When someone says what he’s feeling or thinking, the best thing to do is to repeat back what he has just said. This shows good listening and makes certain the message sent is the same as the message received. It doesn’t matter if we agree with the thoughts or feelings being expressed. It matters that we validate those thoughts and feelings as real for the person at that moment. Building a bond has little to do with who is right or who is wrong. Building a bond is about creating a feeling of mutually shared connection. Communicating better verbally is but one method of creating deeper and more fulfilling bonds. Positive shared experiences together promote bonding in relationships. Whether it’s that moonlight carriage ride, the amazing concert or theater event, it’s the shared mutual experience that uplifts and builds a joyful connection between two people. Every one of us is at least slightly different so what we find amusing will vary from person to person. When we find things we enjoy in common, doing them together is like putting deposits into our shared emotional bank account. When things become stressful or challenging we can make withdrawals from this fund of joy we have created. A simple joy can be greatly increased when it is shared with someone with whom we feel close. Even our sorrows are lightened when we can share them with others instead of suffering them alone. Pursuing new experiences and adventures establish shared mutual experiences that tie people together with fond memories. With couples it’s best to “make love” as often as possible, remembering that sex is a subset of making love. Making love is more about how we speak to each other during the course of the day. Making love is more about the kind words, understanding and empathic gazes in the kitchen or living room or that approving and accepting smile than the words said in the bedroom. Of course, what is said and done outside of the bedroom greatly impacts what does or doesn’t happen in the bedroom. Conversely, what does or doesn’t happen in the bedroom is often parallel to what is or isn’t happening outside the bedroom. And what happens outside the bedroom is all about the quality of communication and the level of mutual experiences— the bond—shared in the relationship.
Creating a Mutually Shared Connection
Jim Delpino is a psychotherapist in private practice for over 30 years. Email email@example.com (215) 364-0139. 46
33ND ANNUAL LIVE BETHLEHEM CHRISTMAS PAGEANT Dec. 10-11: 2 p.m. Bethlehem Rose Garden Band Shell, off Eighth Avenue. Singing, narration, actors and live animals come together in this reenactment of the historical events surrounding the birth of Christ. This event takes place outdoors. Free, goodwill offerings accepted. Info: 610-865-0274
Church, Main and Church Streets A favorite service of the Moravians, the Lovefeast is a non-sacramental meal of coffee and sweet rolls served during a service of hymns and anthems. It is a great way to experience the magnificent church choir. An Advent workshop, with crafts for all ages, 9-10:45 a.m. in the Christian Education Building. Free. 610866-5661.centralmoravianchurch.org
46TH ANNUAL COMMUNITY ADVENT BREAKFAST Nov. 26: 8:30 a.m. Moravian Village, 526 Wood St. This non-denominational Bethlehem tradition features a trombone choir and beeswax candle lighting ceremony along with a generous breakfast buffet. Rob Vaughn, co-anchor and reporter for WFMZ Channel 69, will be the speaker. Tickets/Info: $10 in advance 610-739-1510
ADVENT ORGAN CONCERT Nov. 26: 3 p.m., Central Moravian Church, Main and Church Streets Join Central Moravian’s music director Rebecca Kleintop Owens as she plays favorite songs and Moravian hymns of the Advent and Christmas season. No tickets required; suggested donation $10. 610-866-5661 centralmoravianchurch.org
1750 BLACKSMITH SHOP Nov. 25-Dec. 23: Thurs-Sat, 11-6, and Sun, 11-4. Dec. 26-31 (1750 Smithy only): Mon-Fri, 11-6, and Sat, 11-4. Adjacent to Hotel Bethlehem on Main Street. See one of Historic Bethlehem's blacksmiths while he works the bellows, forge, anvil. Free, donations appreciated. Info: 610691-6055. historicbethlehem.org ADVENT LOVEFEAST Nov. 27, 11 a.m., Central Moravian
“AN OLD-FASHIONED MORAVIAN CHRISTMAS“ Dec. 1-3, 8 & 10: 2 p.m., Central Moravian Church, Main and Church Streets. Experience the sights, sounds and traditions of a Moravian Christmas as you listen and sing along to Christmas favorites and Moravian traditional hymns played on the majestic pipe organ, accompanied by the rich sounds of brass ensembles. Learn more about the Moravian traditions of the beeswax Christmas candle, the Lovefeast, the Moravian star, Moravian music, and,
of course, the story of the first Christmas in Bethlehem. $20, 610332-3378. christmascity.org THE ASSOCIATED MESS PRESENTS: THE CHRISTMAS MOVIE RE-DUB SHOWS Dec. 1 and 15: 8 p.m., Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas, ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way The Lehigh Valley's premier improv comedy troupe gets you in the holiday spirit by taking a handful of Christmas movies, muting the sound, and overdubbing with new, off-thecuff dialogue! Tickets/Info: $8; $5 for students & seniors, 610-3323378. artsquest.org
for adults, $6 for ages 6-12, Ages 5 and under free. 610-332-3378. christmascity.org. Info: 610-6916055.historicbethlehem.org BETHLEHEM’S CHRISTMAS OPEN HOUSE Nov. 12: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Historic and SouthSide Downtowns. Entertainment, in-store specials, truck shows and Pennsylvania Youth Ballet presenting a live window pageant featuring “The Nutcracker Suite!” Stroll the streets from 3:305:30 p.m. to see live ballet dancers in the store windows on Main and Broad Streets in the historic district, as well as on 3rd Street on the SouthSide. 610-751-4979
BACH CHOIR OF BETHLEHEM CHRISTMAS CONCERT Dec. 11: 4 p.m., First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center St. Magic and mystery of the Nativity, featuring Part 3 of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Charpentier’s Midnight Mass for Christmas and Poulenc’s Motets for the Season of Christmas, and closing with a traditional carol sing. Tickets/Info: $30 and $40, $10 for students. bach.org 610-8664382, ext 10 or 15
BREAKFAST WITH ST. NICHOLAS Dec. 10 & 17: 9 a.m. Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem, PNC Plaza at SteelStacks, 645 E. First St. A delicious hot breakfast, photo with St. Nick, admission to Christkindlmarkt, goodie bag, arts & crafts. Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended. Tickets: $14.95 for ages 11 and older; $11.95 for ages 2-10; $6.95 under age 2. 610-332-3378. artsquest.org/ckm
BETHLEHEM BY NIGHT BUS TOUR Thursdays-Sundays, Nov. 25-Dec. 30. A guide in period dress takes you back in time on a 45-50 minute tour of the Christmas City. Tickets: $12
BUSY WORKERS ANNUAL CHRISTMAS SALE Dec. 3, all day. Central Moravian Church Old Chapel. Don’t miss this sale of Moravian crafts, unique items
and delicious baked goods. 610866-5661.centralmoravianchurch.org CENTRAL MORAVIAN CHURCH PUTZ Nov. 25-Dec. 23 (Closed Dec. 2425): Thur.-Sat, 10-8, Sun, 1-8. Dec. 26-30: 10-8, Dec. 31: 1-10:30. Central Moravian Church Christian Education Building, 40 W. Church St. Taken from putzen, the German word meaning “to decorate,” the putz retells the story of Christ’s birth through narration and music. Free, goodwill offerings accepted. 610866-5661.centralmoravianchurch.org CENTRAL MORAVIAN CHURCH STAR AND CANDLE SHOPPE Nov. 25-Dec. 23 (Closed Dec. 2425): Thur.-Sat, 10-8, Sun, 1-8. Dec. 26-30: 10.-8. Central Moravian Church Christian Education Building. Beautiful, handcrafted gifts, cards, jewelry, beeswax candles, German folded stars and more. 610-8665661. centralmoravianchurch.org New Location! CHRISTKINDLMARKT BETHLEHEM Nov. 17-20, 25-27 and Dec. 1-4, 811 and 15-18: Thurs.-Sat., 11-8, Sun, 11-6. PNC Plaza at SteelStacks, 645 E. First St. ArtsQuest’s popular holiday marketplace returns for its 19th year! Recognized by Travel and Leisure Magazine as one of the top holiday markets in the world,
Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem showcases aisles of exquisite handmade works by the nation’s finest artisans, Christmas music, delicious food. Be sure to stop by the glassblowing booth, where beautiful ornaments and decorations are always being made. You can even try your hand at making your own glass ornament, perfect for gift giving or the family Christmas Tree. Tickets/Info: Purchase by Nov. 16 and Save! “CHRISTMAS 1944” Dec. 2, 9 and 10: Lunch at noon; show at 1:30. Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling. ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way Travel back in time with this heartwarming musical telling the story of three women and their journey for hope, love and Christmas spirit during World War II. Each presentation of includes a prix fixe lunch. Tickets: $54. 610-332-3378. artsquest.org CHRISTMAS CITY FOLLIES XII Dec. 1-18: Thurs-Sat, 8 p.m., Sun, 2 p.m. 321 E. 4th St. Touchstone Theatre’s annual vaudevillian holiday show features live music, whimsical characters and old-time razzle-dazzle wrapped into a sweet, irreverent and uniquely Bethlehem evening of winter merriment. Tickets: $25, $15 for students & seniors. Every Thursday is Pay-What-You-Will at the Door. 610867-1689. touchstone.org
CHRISTMAS CITY STROLL Nov. 25-Dec. 23 and Dec. 26-30: Tours depart from Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center at 505 Main St. This active, 50-minute walking tour, led by a guide in period dress, leads you through Bethlehem's charming historic district. Tours are led by candlelit lanterns. Tickets: $12 for adult, $6 for ages 6-12. Free for ages 5 and under. 610-332-3378, artsquest.org or 610-691-6055, historicbethlehem.org CHRISTMAS CITY VILLAGE Fridays-Sundays, Nov. 25-Dec. 18 Historic Bethlehem’s newest tradition, Christmas City Village, premieres during the 2011 holiday season. This German-inspired outdoor Weihnachtsmarkt features traditional food, fine crafters and live holiday music in the same spirit as European Christmas festivals. 610-751-4979 DOORS & WINDOWS OF BETHLEHEM Daily, Nov. 12-Dec. 24. Throughout Bethlehem. Take a self-guided tour of all the shops and restaurants’ decorated doors and windows in the two downtowns of Bethlehem. Three different themed categories set apart each exquisitely decorated door! Vote for your favorite door at www.doorsofbethlehem.com and be entered in a drawing to win a
$1,000 shopping spree to the merchants of Downtown Bethlehem! Free. Info: 610-751-4979 EAST HILLS MORAVIAN CHURCH CHRISTMAS PUTZ Nov. 25-Dec. 23: Fri, 6-8, and Sat.Sun, 3-8. East Hills Moravian Church, 1830 Butztown Rd. The Christmas putz is a Moravian tradition that tells the story of the birth of Jesus using music, narration and illuminated scenes with ceramic and wooden figures. Free, goodwill offerings accepted. 610-868-6481 easthillsmc.org EDGEBORO MORAVIAN CHRISTMAS PUTZ Dec. 1-23, call for showing times Edgeboro Moravian Church, 645 Hamilton Ave. Telling the story of the birth of Jesus through sight and sound; also features a Christmas Shop with crafts for sale. Please call for reservations. Free, goodwill offerings accepted 610-866-8793. edgeboromoravian.org ELISABETH VON TRAPP Nov. 17: 3 p.m. (performance at 3 p.m., followed by dinner at 4:15 p.m.) Nov. 19: noon (lunch at noon; followed by performance at 2 p.m.) Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling. ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way
Join the granddaughter of the legendary Maria and Baron von Trapp of “The Sound of Music” as she takes you on a musical journey from Bach to Broadway and Schubert to Sting. Tickets: $54. 610-332-3378 artsquest.org GERMAN AND ENGLISH ADVENT SINGSTUNDE Dec. 6: 7 p.m. Central Moravian Church Old Chapel, off Heckewelder Place and Church Street. Sing your favorite Advent hymns in English and German. Presented by Dr. Paul Peucker of the Moravian Archives and sponsored by the Moravian Music Foundation and Central Moravian Church. 610-866-5661. centralmorvianchurch.org HOLIDAY WORKSHOP Dec. 4: 1-5. The Banana Factory, 25 W. Third St. With craft diva Beth Ann Ballek. Projects include holiday cards, ornaments and table and wall decorations. Cost/Registration: $50. 610332-3378. artsquest.org HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: PHOTOGRAPHING THE CHRISTMAS CITY Dec. 11-12: Sun, 1-5, Mo., 6-9:30. Discover Bethlehem through your lens with Banana Factory photographer and Historic Bethlehem tour guide Bruce Ward. You’ll visit the his-
toric sites of the city during its most inspiring time of the year and learn the ways in which to best capture the beauty right in our own backyard. Cost/Registration: $90. 610332-3378. artsquest.org LIVE ADVENT CALENDAR Dec. 1-23: 5 p.m. Goundie House, 501 Main St. Each day promptly at 5 p.m., the Goundie House Door on Main Street opens and a surprise for the crowd comes out of the door! A performance, goodies, discounts…the possibilities are endless. Free. Info: 610-751-4979 MEN’S SHOPPING NIGHT IN BETHLEHEM’S TWO DOWNTOWNS Dec. 17: 5-9. During this event, the stores and restaurants of Bethlehem’s Historic District and SouthSide offer discounts on merchandise, free gift wrapping, refreshments and drinks (beer and scotch are on the menu at several locations), as well as personal shoppers offering advice for men looking to pick up the perfect gift for loved ones! Info: 610-751-4979 MORAVIAN MUSEUM OF BETHLEHEM Thurs-Sun, Nov. 25-Dec. 23 (Closed Dec. 24-25): 11-4; Dec. 26-31: 11-4. 66 W. Church St. This museum housed in the 1741 Gemeinhaus, is the oldest building in Bethlehem,
now a National Historic Landmark. The holiday season will feature reproductions of the pyramid of greens, which has been called the "first recorded Christmas tree in America.” $7 for adults, $3 for ages 6-12. Ages 5 and under free. 610691-6055. historicbethlehem.org NUTCRACKED Dec. 7: 7:30 p.m. Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling. ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way. It’s “The Nutcracker,” but definitely not as we know it. The Bang Group has taken every little girl’s favorite Christmas show and torn it limb from limb. Mixing Tchaikovsky with music by Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller and others, the company turns the sugar coated ballet into a percussive piece of dance theatre. $25 Balcony/$20 Cabaret. 610-332-3378. artsquest.org “THE NUTCRACKER” Dec. 17-18: 2 p.m. Zoellner Arts Center, 420 E. Packer Ave. Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley students/dancers and professional guest artists, under the direction of Artistic Director Karen Kroninger Knerr. New York City Ballet principal dancer Jennie Somogyi will dance the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy. 610-758-2787.. Info: 610-865-0353. BGLV.org
SCENIC HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE RIDES Thurs-Sat, Nov. 25-Dec. 23 (Closed Dec. 24-25): 4-10, every 20 minutes. Dec. 26-30: 4-10 every 20 minutes Rides depart from outside Central Moravian Church on Main Street Relax on a cozy, serene ride through beautiful downtown North Bethlehem; enjoy the lights, sights and sounds. Note: There are no rides from 7-7:20. Tickets: $50. 610-332-3378. artsquest.org Info: 610-691-6055.historicbethlehem.org STEELSTACKS FINE ART SALE Nov. 17-20: Thurs, 7-9; Fri-Sat, noon-8, Sun, noon-6. ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way. This new fine art show and sale showcases exquisite yet affordable works of art by some of the region’s most talented artists. The work in this sale is exclusive and also priced to sell, so shop early! Free. 610-3323378. artsquest.org WORLD IMPORT SHOP Nov. 24 and Dec. 3, 10, 17: 10-4:30. Central Moravian Church Office Basement, 73 W. Church St. Features unique, handcrafted items from 35 Third-World countries. 610-866-5661. centralmoravianchurch.org
32 / INTERVIEW / KIRSTEN DUNST
convincing you of Justine’s emotional shift, from an ill-behaving and nearly catatonic bride (she systematically ruins her wedding before descending into a state in which she can’t eat or bathe) to a woman who finds a strange comfort in imminent doom, holding it together while everyone and everything around her falls apart. “We talked about it, Lars and I,” Dunst says of Justine’s curious arc. “We talked about how, sometimes, when people are depressed, the most horrendous things make them kind of step up to take care of everyone more than anyone else. There could be a lot of reasons for it, but it seems that, when you’re in a depressed state, having something really bad happen gives you a kind of life again.” She doesn’t speak much about it, but Dunst suffered from a depression of her own in 2008, shortly after the Spider-Man trilogy closed on a sour note and shortly before Hollywood saw the first year-long drought of Dunst releases since 1992. Reportedly claiming to have felt abysmal for roughly six months beforehand, Dunst checked herself into a Utah facility for treatment. Upon completion, she went on to star in All Good Things, a fact-based New York thriller that, prior to Melancholia, earned her “best ever” raves. Call it the Von Trier Syndrome—depression leading to creative awakening. Her experience certainly informed the way she approached Justine, and her full
Kirsten Dunst in a scene from Melancholia.
emergence from it, she says, made tackling the role possible. “I feel like, to play somebody like this, you have to be in a really good place,” she says, “because you can’t play depressed when you’re depressed—you can’t do anything. There are many who know what that feels like. I think most people have gone through their own version of depression. It’s a very normal thing.” “Normal,” however, isn’t the way anyone is going to describe the experience of Melancholia, an extravagantly visceral titan of a movie that, like most all of von Trier’s work, is unshakable to the extent that you might want to clear your post-screening schedule. Regardless of how one feels about the apocalypse (whether you’d greet it with an atheistic calm like Justine, or a terrifyingly frantic desperation like Claire), von Trier uses his singular intuition and formidable visual and aural skills to dig right under the skin, penetrating your surface as he presents the smashing of the Earth’s crust. Dunst proves instrumental in her director’s artistic goals, nailing that challenge of embodying an antiheroine whose inner life defies typical development. The true strangeness of it all is that, in discussing the role, Dunst never gets more than a touch serious, maintaining a steady levity that comes as a bit of a shock given the character and material in question. Something suggests that out of the actress’s emotional lows has emerged an invigorated, and yet, selectively objective, artist, one who knows when to keep seriousness at arm’s length and when to her hurl herself headlong into demanding, provocative work. Which, thankfully, seems to be a new habit. “Whatever this film would have been—a fun experience, a weird experience, whatever—I was ready to do it,” she says. “I’m up for an adventure.” 50
34 / INTERVIEW / ERIC RIPERT
a knack for being kind at being cruel. As far as entertainment value goes, Ripert’s episodes of Treme, filmed at his Le Bernadin, were still a matter of craft, despite his playing a character named “Eric Ripert.” The chef had great fun doing the HBO series. “It’s still acting, I think,” laughs the chef. “It’s not something I have ever done before and would doubtful do otherwise.” What Ripert does do and do well doubtless otherwise is run restaurants like 10 Arts and Le Bernadin, two hot spots that are in constant evolution. “We can never stay still,” says Ripert, reminding me how Le Bernadin was just completely redone at the end of August 2011 and re-opened with an entirely new décor as well as small new lounge. The Ritz Carlton’s 10 Arts in Philly may maintain its looks, but obviously will evolve now that Jennifer Carroll has left the etage. Ripert knew that at some point the highly acclaimed Carroll would want to spread her wings. He’s known for some time (“July maybe”) that the day was near. When it came he had his own matters to attend at Le Bernadin (an event for the Michelin Guide) and couldn’t make the October away event held in regard to the Celebrity Chef Tour for the James Beard House. “Still, I called her that day and told her how much I’d miss her. We have always had a very good relationship and I wish her nothing but the best. I am so very happy and proud that she is spreading her wings. I have watched her grow and supported every move she’s made, from the kitchen of Le Bernadin to when she joined us as we moved to Philadelphia through to the decision to be on Top Chef.“ Now that Jen Carroll has grown, Ripert’s support has not and will not waver. He even uses Carroll as a benchmark for what the next phase of 10 Arts will be. If she learned editing and refinement from Ripert, he followed Carroll’s lead in the exchange of energy and information when it came to Philly, its palate and the market in general. “She taught me a lot about what it means to be in Philadelphia, what the tastes and desires are.” Though chefs from Le Bernadin are currently complying with the Ripert and Carroll menu, and rumors of chefs from the BLT group have surfaced, nothing yet has become of Ripert’s search for the perfect 10 Arts replacement. Or at least he isn’t saying. “We are being very diligent and very careful in who we let take ownership of the kitchen. It was in such good hands and we have such high standards.” Having eaten there many times, I can concur. Therefore, getting the right executive chef is a must. Surprisingly, he looks back toward Carroll for inspiration. “We do want someone exactly like Jenny,” states Ripert. “Just as creative and just as energetic.” As for his life as a creative type, a media personality on television and the stage— apart from being a restaurateur and chef—Ripert says there is no different life, or different side or persona. It is the same job description. That’s what makes it so that he is a natural at what he does. “It’s the same person that you see on television that you see in the kitchen. The careers are complimentary—an extension really. To be a chef in 2011 you have to be media savvy. And if you do it well, I think you can truly inspire people. You can inspire your team, you can inspire your diners, you can inspire a whole legion of people. It’s a different world from thirty years ago. Being a personality is not separated from being a chef.” This has always been thus for Ripert since the start of his careers; it was based on sharing then as it is now. That level of enjoyment of his craft is what makes him so natural on the screen. The camera loves food’s silver fox. “That’s why it looks so easy or that I’m so good at it,” he laughs. “I’m honestly happy to share what I do in the kitchen on the screen. My experience and training and explaining it to an audience—I feel as if I am learning it all over again. It makes me better at what I am doing. Absolutely. It makes me more aware of the process, all my processes. The way we create and why we create.” With all of this ease and all of his creativity, one must admit there is a proliferation of culinary television unheard of previous to the current foodie revolution. Is there a saturation level to be reached and how far from boiling over is not for Ripert to say as he is not an expert at calculating audiences. Just pleasing them. “I do not know exactly how the success of these shows are measured and how that success is viewed, but I think that it will have reached a saturation point when people stop watching the shows,” laughs. Ripert. “There is a great demand right now for food television programming and people seem to be pretty happy about it. When fewer people start reaching for our channels, we will know. It’s no different than when diners stop coming to our restaurants. We will get the hint.”
Facts compiled by the editors of Harper’s Magazine
Percentage of the current U.S. debt that was accumulated during Republican presidential terms: 71 Portion of debt-ceiling elevations since 1960 that have been signed into law by Republican presidents: 2/3 Percentage of profits American corporations paid in taxes in 1961: 40.6 Today: 10.5 Portion of the increase in U.S. corporate profit margins since 2001 that has come from depressed wages: 3/4 Percentage of Americans who say they did not have money to buy food at all times last year: 18.2 Percentage change in the median household wealth of white families since 2005: –16 Of Hispanic families: –66 Number of minors sent back to Mexico by U.S. immigration authorities in 2010: 20,438 Percentage who were sent unaccompanied by an adult: 57 Percentage of the world’s population that could fit in Texas by living with the population density of New York City: 100 Estimated value of government subsidies that will go to the oil and gas industries between now and 2015: $78,155,000,000 Average amount the tooth fairy left for a tooth in 2010, according to a survey by Visa: $3 Average so far in 2011: $2.60 Price for an iPad case made out of Bernie Madoff ’s Polo Ralph Lauren blue chinos: $350 Percentage of millionaires who said in a July survey that they are concerned about global unrest: 94 Percentage of Egyptians who say they want the new government to amend or abandon the Camp David accords: 70 Estimated number of Syrians killed during pro-democracy protests since March: 1,700 Number of people killed in Ecuador since July by bootleg liquor: 35 Portion of the Indian Ocean that is underexplored by scientists because of pirates: 1/4 Amount an unemployed Utah man is charging for the opportunity to hunt and kill him: $10,000 Portion of non-interest federal spending that is dedicated to programs for the elderly: 1/3 Chance that a person will remember something if he thinks he can look it up later: 1 in 5 If he thinks he cannot: 1 in 3 Percentage of U.S. college grades that are A’s: 43 Portion of America’s college students who attend for-profit schools: 1/10 Portion of federal financial aid that goes to such schools: 1/4 Portion of college students who believe alcohol improves their ability to tell jokes: 3/4 Who believe it improves their sexual encounters: 1/3 Percent increase in armed robberies at pharmacies since 2006: 81 Chance that an American fast-food customer uses posted calorie information to make food-buying decisions: 1 in 6 Number of states in which less than 20 percent of adults are obese: 0 Percentage of private-sector workers who believe that public-sector workers receive better benefits: 60 Percentage of public-sector workers who believe this: 44 Percentage of Americans who believe China has passed or will pass the United States as the world’s leading superpower: 46 Percentage of Chinese who do: 63 Of French: 72 Percentage of Americans who say they would vote for a well-qualified homosexual candidate for president: 67 For a well-qualified atheist: 49 Percentage of Americans in a July poll who said they approve of God’s job performance: 52
Index Sources 1 New York Times/Harper’s research; 2 U.S. Department of the Treasury; 3,4 Institute for Policy Studies (Washington); 5 J. P. Morgan (N.Y.C.); 6 Gallup (Washington); 7,8 Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends project (Washington); 9,10 Instituto Nacional de Migración (Mexico City); 11 Tim De Chant, Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.); 12 Taxpayers for Common Sense (Washington); 13 Frederick James (N.Y.C.); 14,15 Visa Inc. (San Francisco); 16 Insite Security (N.Y.C.); 17 Newsweek/Daily Beast (N.Y.C.); 18 Amnesty International USA (N.Y.C.) 19 Ministerio de Salud Pública (Quito, Ecuador); 20 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Hobart, Australia); 21 Mork Encino (Utah); 22 National Center for Policy Analysis (Dallas); 23,24 Betsy Sparrow, Columbia University (N.Y.C.); 25 Stuart Rojstaczer (Point Reyes Station, Calif.); 26,27 The College Board (N.Y.C.); 28,29 Kevin King, University of Washington (Seattle); 30 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; 31 BMJ (London); 32 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta); 33,34 Reason Magazine (Los Angeles); 35–37 Pew Global Attitudes Project (Washington); 38,39 Gallup (Washington); 40 Public Policy Polling (Raleigh, N.C.).
classical notebook Legrand Affair Melissa Errico sings Michel Legrand featuring The Brussels Philharmonic Ghostlight Records www.ghostlightrecords.com
plished arranger and conductor who, although now nearly 80, still performs with orchestras all over the world. While on a visit to the U.S. in 1958, Legrand collaborated with such musicians as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Phil Woods, Ben Webster, Hank Jones, and Art Farmer in an album of inventive orchestrations of jazz standards titled Legrand Jazz. The following year, back in Paris with bassist Guy Pedersen and percussionist Gus Wallez, he recorded an album of Paris-themed songs arranged for jazz piano trio, titled Paris Jazz Piano. Nearly a decade later he recorded At Shelly’s Manne-Hole
ONE MAY ASK WHY we are reviewing the new album of Melissa Errico featuring Michel Legrand’s music within this classical music section. Well, Michel Legrand, although probably best known for his often haunting film music and scores, such as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), is definitely one of the most talented and best classically trained musicians of our times. He studied music at the Paris Conservatoire from 1943-50 (ages 11-18), working mainly with Nadia Boulanger, who also taught many other composers, including Aaron Copland and Philip Glass, and Ástor Piazzolla. Legrand graduated with top honors as both a composer and a pianist and was known as Nadia Boulanger’s favorite student; they remained in contact till the end of her life in 1979. Michel’s father, Raymond Legrand, was also a conductor and composer renowned for hits such as Irma la Douce and his mother, Marcelle Der Mikaëlian (sister of conductor Jacques Hélian), who married Legrand Sr. in 1929, was descended from the Armenian bourgeoisie. Michel’s sister, Christiane Legrand, was a member of the Swingle Singers, and his niece Victoria Legrand is a member of the indie rock Michel Legrand with Melissa Errico. duo Beach House Michel Legrand has composed more than 200 film and television scores and several musicals (1968), an exciting live trio session with bassist Ray and has made well over a hundred albums. He has won Brown and drummer Shelly Manne, in which four of the three Oscars (out of 13 nominations) and five Grammys compositions were improvised on the spot. Legrand also and has been nominated for an Emmy. He was twentyprovided an odd scat vocal on “My Funny Valentine.” two when his first album, I Love Paris, became one of Legrand returned to his role as jazz arranger for the Stan the best-selling instrumental albums ever released. He is Getz album Communications ‘72 and resumed his colalso a virtuoso jazz and classical pianist and an accomlaboration with Phil Woods on Jazz Le Grand (1979) and After the Rain (1982); then, he collaborated with violinist Stephane Grappelli on an album in 1992. Not as well rePeter H. Gistelinck is the Executive Director of The ceived as his earlier work in the field of jazz was a 1994 Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Prior to joining the album for LaserLight titled Michel Plays Legrand. More Orchestra, he was the Director of Sales and Marketing recently, in 2002, he recorded a masterful solo jazz piano and Co-Artistic Director for the Brussels Philharmonic album reworking fourteen of his classic songs, Michel Orchestra and Flemish Radio Choir in Belgium. Mr. GisLegrand by Michel Legrand. His jazz piano style remains telinck is a member of the Kimmel Center Resident Advivirtuosic and eclectic, drawing upon such influences as sory Committee, The Recording Academy, American Film Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, and Bill Evans. Institute, Musical Fund Society, Philadelphia Arts and A number of his songs, including “What Are You Doing Business Council, International Academy of Jazz and Inthe Rest of Your Life?,” “Watch What Happens,” “The ternational Society for the Performing Arts. Summer Knows,” and “You Must Believe in Spring,” have 52
become forever jazz standards covered frequently by other artists. During various periods of creative work, Legrand also became a conductor for orchestras in St. Petersburg, Vancouver, Montreal, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Denver. He recorded more than one hundred albums with international musical stars (spanning the genres of jazz, variety, and classical) and worked with such diverse musicians as Phil Woods, Ray Charles, Claude Nougaro, Perry Como, Neil Diamond, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, James Ingram, Jack Jones, Kiri te Kanawa, Tamara Gverdciteli, Frankie Laine, Tereza Kesovija, Johnny Mathis, Jessye Norman, Diana Ross, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Vaughan, Shirley Bassey, and Regine Velasquez. Legrand has also recorded classical piano pieces by Erik Satie and American composers such as Amy Beach, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, John Cage, and Conlon Nancarrow. Legrand composed film scores for directors Jean-Luc Godard, Richard Brooks, Claude Lelouch, Clint Eastwood, Robert Altman, Joseph Losey, and many others. Legrand himself appears and performs in Agnès Varda’s French New Wave classic, Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961). After his songs appeared in Jacques Demy’s films The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1966), Legrand became famous worldwide. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was a sung-through musical in which all the dialogue was set to music, a revolutionary concept at the time. Hollywood soon became interested in Legrand after Cherbourg, bombarding him with requests to compose music for films. Having begun to collaborate with Hollywood, Legrand continued to work there for many years. Among his best-known scores are those for The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), which features the hit song “The Windmills of Your Mind,” and Summer of ‘42 (1971), which features another hit song, “The Summer Knows.” Legrand also wrote the score for Orson Welles’s lastcompleted film, F for Fake (1974). But what about the latest album of Melissa Errico Legrand Affair, featuring exclusively Michel Legrand’s songs? It is indeed a grand affair and the story of its creation is as epic as the album itself, spanning six years, a half-dozen world capitals and the birth of three children. The collaboration with Melissa Errico all started in 2002 when Michel Legrand composed the score for the Broadway musical Amour, which was translated into English by Jeremy Sams and was directed by James Lapine. This musical was his Broadway debut, and while it did run only 17 performances, it garnered a loyal fan base due to its much-praised cast album on Ghostlight Records, and subsequent multiple Tony Award nominations (2003), including Best Score for Michel Legrand and Best Actress for its acclaimed leading actress Melissa Errico. Michel continued his collaboration with Melissa to the present day, appearing at such jazz venues as Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center.
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PETER H. GISTELINCK Ratings: =skip it; =mediocre; =good; =excellent; =classic
Though Michel Legrand has rarely done this for any solo artist, he arranged, conducted and accompanied Melissa Errico with a 100-piece symphony on the Legrand Affair album, featuring Michel’s Oscar-winning songs, hidden French gems, as well as one new song with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The CD was produced by the legendary Phil Ramone and is featured in Ramone’s biography Making Records. In 2005, Legrand, having floated the idea of making an album with Errico, arrived at her New York apartment in mid-February for an extended visit. Errico had compiled a massive binder of Legrand songs, a collection so extensive that the composer himself had forgotten many of them. As they winnowed down the enormous list, Legrand shared the stories behind various songs and delighted both Errico and her husband (retired tennis pro and ESPN correspondent Patrick McEnroe) with colorful tales from his vibrant musical life, including a long-ago beach frolic with Miles Davis and a request he once made to an airline pilot to keep circling over L.A. until he finished a score due to a Hollywood studio. Their agreed goal was to create a deeply intimate album of ballads, and Legrand referenced two of his favorites—Shirley Horn’s Here’s to Life and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now—as examples. Then Legrand insisted that the project needed to be hugely symphonic, suggesting a 100-piece orchestra; he suggested working with in Belgium with one of the top and most experienced orchestras for this genre of music, the Flemish Radio orchestra, now known as the Brussels Philharmonic. Errico wondered about creating something intimate in so grand a setting, but didn’t question her friend’s vast expertise. Legrand also suggested they reach out to “Phil” for assistance. Only when he arrived at Errico’s door the next morning did she realize that the Phil in question was legendary producer Phil Ramone. The following day, Legrand, Ramone and Errico went into the studio to record demos of several of their selected songs with bassist David Finck and drummer Steve Gadd, the composer himself at the piano. Legrand then returned to France to write the orchestrations, visited once by Errico and Ramone for rehearsals. Legrand and Errico next met in Toronto, several months later. Taking a one-day break from the hit revival of Finian’s Rainbow, Errico flew to Canada to hear a new song, “In Another Life,” Legrand had just completed, with lyrics from his longtime friends and frequent collaborators, Marilyn and Alan Bergman. Errico loved the song, and it was added to a list that had now grown to 15 selections. (Hers would not, however, be the firstto-market recording of “In Another Life.” Jack Jones beat her by a few months, including the song on his Bergman tribute, Love Makes the Changes). Another few months passed, and Errico found herself in Belgium, with Legrand and Ramone, for the recording of the music tracks. As promised, Legrand had delivered 100 musicians—the Flemish Radio Orchestra (now
known as the Brussels Philharmonic)—to a Leuven concert hall. Errico didn’t, however, hear the final, recorded orchestrations until several weeks later, listening to them on a portable CD player while being piloted by Legrand across the Pyrenees for a brief vacation in Spain. In August 2006, Legrand and Errico met again in L.A. She was there for a film project, he was scheduled for a series of jazz concerts, and insisted on including both Errico and her Amour and Finian’s Rainbow costar Malcolm Gets, in several of his performances. (As an aside, Gets and Errico unite for a terrific medley of “Blue Skies” and “It’s a Lovely Day Today” on his 2009 album, The Journey Home). They also spent time with the Bergmans, whose lyrics accompany nine of the finished CD’s tracks. Errico, now several months pregnant with her first child, again teamed with Michel in New York at Joe’s Pub and Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center. Soon after, Errico and McEnroe’s daughter, Victoria, was born, followed two years later by twin sisters, Diana and Juliette. Finally, in 2010, Errico was able to clear space in her parenting and professional schedule to lay down the vocal tracks in New York, assisted by the album’s co-producer, acclaimed theater and concert director Richard Jay-Alexander. The finished album does, remarkably, manage to sound both imposingly majestic and intimate, mirroring the hushed grandeur of Barbra Streisand’s recent projects, Love Is the Answer and What Matters Most (which, as an all-Bergman salute, also includes significant Legrand material—overlapping with Errico on one track, “The Windmills of Your Mind”). Like Streisand, Errico has a voice built to reach the upper balconies but is equally, exceptionally, capable of cozier, more introspective readings. Her tender handling of “I Will Wait for You” (originally written by Legrand as the main theme for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) amid waves of swirling waves of strings provides stunningly beautiful proof. Many of the selections will be immediately recognizable, including such Bergman-enhanced gems as “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life,” “The Summer Knows,” “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” and “You Must Believe In Spring.” All are gorgeously rendered, as is the delicate Legrand-Johnny Mercer masterpiece “Once Upon a Summertime.” But it is the more obscure choices—particularly “Dis Moi” from the 1971 film Un Peu de Soleil l’Eau Froide (A Few Hours of Sunlight), the gentlest, sparest of
Legrand’s orchestrations, the powerfully emotive, almost anthemic, “Celui-La” (which Legrand wrote the day after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, in response to the tragedy), the fragile “Martina,” unraveled like a fractured lullaby, and the fresh “In Another Life,” a wonderfully wistful tale of lost romance—that make Legrand Affair especially distinctive. Legrand Affair was released October 18 by Ghostlight Records. The album was Co-Produced by Richard Jay-Alexander, Errico’s concert director, close collaborator and longtime friend (responsible for casting Errico as Cosette in the first national touring company of Les Miserables, when she was an 18 year-old freshman at Yale.) Legrand Affair marks Errico’s third solo release, following Blue Like That (EMI) and Lullabies and Wildflowers (VMG/Universal). Additionally, it is her third collaboration with Ghostlight Records. She appeared on the label’s Finian’s Rainbow recording, as well as on their Broadway cast album of Michel Legrand’s Amour. Ghostlight will also reissue Lullabies and Wildflowers. Melissa Errico is one of the most versatile women to have come out of this Broadway’s young generation, proving herself both a great interpreter of classic musicals and modern music alike, as well as a gifted recording artist and film/television presence—she has starred in seven Broadway musicals. She has been called everything from “divine” to “the voice of enchantment” to “one of the most valuable assets of the musical theater” by the New York Times as well as “incandescent” (Daily News) and “blessed with every attribute a grand dame of Broadway requires: star power, voice, looks, ability, personality, technique. An aphrodisiac, as it were, that galvanizes a musical into life” (Clive Barnes). “Our most earthy and soulful ingenue... She both sparkles and is unmannered,” wrote USA Today and her recordings have been described as “intimate exhalations, sung with her hearton-sleeve” by Billboard, “a classy classic sound, with taste and imagination” by the Washington Post, and “...ethereal, gorgeous, elegant, popular. Delivered with inward emotion and real artistry” by the New York Times. Upon coming to hear her sing the role of Fiona in Brigadoon in a one-night-only concert on Broadway in June 2010, Ben Brantley of the Times wrote “this beautifully sung performance had the bewitched aura of the
53 / CLASSICAL NOTEBOOK
exquisitely ephemeral. I left the Shubert feeling blessed and privileged, and I knew many of my friends would feel envious when I described what I had seen.” I am sure you’ll enjoy Melissa’s latest album. Arrivederci Vittorio Grigolo Sony Classical www.sonymasterworks.com Hailed by the Independent as “the most exciting young male talent in opera today,” Vittorio Grigolo follows up his debut album, The Italian Tenor, with his second release, Arrivederci. While The Italian Tenor was devoted to a purely classical operatic repertoire, Vittorio’s new album, Arrivederci, combines his selection of beautiful arias with songs from the past century that are steeped in the Italian tradition. The album is a deeply personal homage to the music with which the great tenors of the past have thrilled generations of music lovers for years. The downside of this recording however is just the “ok” quality of the orchestra on this CD with Pier Giorgio Morandi conducting the Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Parma. Although Vittorio has an amazing voice, it is also important in these kind of compilation recordings to make sure the orchestra is of the same quality as the featured soloist. Vittorio chose the title Arrivederci for a specific reason. As Vittorio explains, arrivederci means “‘see you again soon,’ and holds the promise of a time when our eyes will meet again,” and it offers the opportunity to “revisit the values and colors of an Italian tradition which often get brushed aside by a faster pace of life.” Taking his precedent from the musical culture of his country at the turn of the 20th-century, Vittorio’s fashioning of arias together with songs gestures back to a time when opera and popular song were merging on both the opera stage and Italian streets. The album picks up where The Italian Tenor left off, with incomparable arias such as Verdi’s “La donna e mobile” (Rigoletto), Cilea’s “Il lamento di Federico” (L’Arlesiana) and Giordano’s “Amor ti vieta” (Fedora), before moving on to greatly loved Italian songs that tenors such as Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli and Mario Lanza introduced to a 20th-century audience. Along with the Mediterranean sun-drenched voice and instinctive Italian flair, Vittorio also brings a beautifully refined, fresh and sensual interpretation to these great Italian songs. To the quintessentially Neapolitan tunes of “Core N’grato” (Cardillo), “Non ti scordar di me” (De Curtis), “Mattinata” (Leoncavallo) and “Torna a Surriento” (De Curtis), Vittorio Grigolo adds gems, familiar from his childhood in Rome: “Chitarra Romana” (di Lazzaro) and “Arrivederci, Roma” (Rascel)—both reflecting the sounds and musical tradition of a period in Vittorio’s life he will never forget. With the songs on this album spanning the whole of the last century, the final expression of this musical heritage can be found in Dalla’s popular hit “Caruso.” The last twelve months have been very busy and exciting for Vittorio. In June 2010, singing the role of Des Grieux alongside Anna Netrebko’s Manon in the new production of Massenet’s famous opera, he made “the most sensational debut to be heard at Covent Garden for some time” (Guardian). His first album, The Italian Tenor topped the U.S. Billboard classical charts and earned Vittorio the French Diapason’s “Discovery of the Year” award. Successful debuts at the New York Metropolitan Opera and Berlin’s Deutsche Oper followed. Vittorio also embarked on his first solo concert tour through Germany and Switzerland earlier this year. On November 6, Vittorio will make his West Coast operatic debut at the L.A. Opera in Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy of star crossed lovers, Romeo et Juliette, starring as Romeo, with the enchanting Nino Machaidze returning as Juliette. Plácido Domingo conducts one of L.A. Opera’s landmark productions, directed by Ian Judge. As Frere Laurent, the magnificent bass, Vitalij Kowaljow returns for his first L.A. Opera appearance since his performances as Wotan in the Ring cycle. Baritone Vladimir Chernov, a Company favorite, returns as Count Capulet. Performance dates are November 6, 9, 12, 17, 20 and 26. Vittorio Grigolo, born in Tuscany and raised in Rome, became a soloist in the choir of the Sistine Chapel at the age of nine, sang the role of the shepherd boy in Puccini’s Tosca in the Rome Opera alongside Luciano Pavarotti at thirteen, and at twenty-three was the youngest tenor ever to debut at La Scala in Milan. Now thirty-four years old, he is taking opera houses around the world by storm. 54
singer /songwriter Johnny Cash 1/2 Bootleg Vol 3: Live Around The World Columbia/Legacy Live Around The World, the third installment in the “Bootleg” series of Johnny Cash, shifts the focus from the recording studio to the concert stage. Drawn from eight concerts between 1956 and 1979, the two-CD collection serves as musical scrapbook, sonic snapshots that show his development as a performer. He’s an eager newcomer whose star is rising in 1956 at the Big D Jamboree in Dallas with the Tennessee Two on a heartfelt version of “I Walk The Line.” By 1964, Cash is a polished performer at the Newport Folk Festival, singing Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” as the songwriter’s request. Cash varied his material, according to the audience. He offers a rowdy version of “Cocaine Blues” and “Remember The Alamo” in 1969 for U.S. troops in South Vietnam. Playing at the White House for President Nixon in April 1970, he turns to gospel music with “Peace in the Valley” and “The Old Account.” While the sound quality is variable at times, the collection demonstrates Cash could connect with any audience, be it the leader of the free world or the inmates of a Swedish prison. Maria Muldaur Steady Love Stony Plain Records “I’ll be glad when I get my groove back again,” Maria Muldaur declares on the spirited “I’ll Be Glad,” the opening track of Steady Love, her new studio album. Muldaur has no cause for worry. At 68, nearly 40 years after her hit single “Midnight at the Oasis,” she remains a vocalist of commanding power. While her voice has deepened, Muldaur puts her distinctive stamp on a song, whether the bluesy “Soulful Dress” or the cautionary funk of Bobby Charles’s “Why Are People Like That.” Recorded in New Orleans, the CD’s
TOM WILK Ratings: =skip it; =mediocre; =good; =excellent; =classic
13 songs have that Crescent City vibe. Muldaur displays her gospel side with the traditional spiritual “I Done Made Up My Mind” and Stephen Bruton’s “Walk By Faith.” On Percy Mayfield’s classic “Please Send Me Someone to Love,” Muldaur pushes the boundaries of the song with her testimony on the state of the world that would make any preacher proud.
The McCrary Sisters 1/2 Our Journey McC Records As the daughters of the Rev. Samuel McCrary, an original member of the Fairfield Four, the McCrary Sisters—Ann, Deborah, Regina, and Alfreda—grew up listening and singing gospel music. The siblings, who individually have worked with Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and Stevie Wonder, have teamed up on Our Journey, a 12-song CD that effectively showcases their skills individually and collectively. Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” is transformed from a folk anthem into slice of southern soul and recalls his Slow Train Coming album on which Regina sang. She takes the lead vocal on “Give Him My All,” a song she cowrote with Dylan about spiritual journeys. “Bless ‘Em You All,” with Ann on lead, is celebration of spiritual diversity written by Gary Nicholson. Musically, the McCrary’s take an eclectic approach, ranging from the jump-style blues of “Bible Study” to an a cappella rendition of “Dig a Little Deeper” and the fervent “Other Side of the Blues (Since I Met You),” a duet with Regina and Delbert McClinton. It’s a musical potpourri that works.
walking his route. This collection includes a CD of his earliest studio recordings from August 1970, featuring just Prine and his acoustic guitar. Prine is mastering his craft with his account of a troubled Vietnam veteran (“Great Society Conflict Veteran’s Blues”) that would be retitled “Sam Stone” and the humorous tale of a jilted husband (“The Frying Pan”). There is also a previously unreleased Prine original (“A Star, A Jewel and a Hoax”). The second CD is a concert recording from a November 1970 show in Chicago. At 24, Prine was already a polished performer, joking with the crowd as he runs through a set that includes “Angel From Montgomery,” “Illegal Smile” and a medley of Hank Williams’s “Hey, Good Lookin’” and “Jambalaya.”
Chris Isaak Beyond The Sun Vanguard The music of Chris Isaak is rooted in the 1950s, which he acknowledges on Beyond The Sun. The 14-song album is inspired by music released on Memphis-based Sun Records or recorded by artists who began their career on the label. Elvis Presley helped to put Sun on the map and Isaak devotes half of the album’s seven songs to numbers associated with the singer. Isaak demonstrates his vocal versatility on the yearning rocker “Trying to Get to You” and the ballads “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” and “My Happiness.” More challenging are “Great Balls of Fire” and “I Walk The Line.” Isaak delivers credible renditions, but Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash already recorded the defini-
John Prine The Singing Mailman Delivers Oh Boy Records Released 40 years ago, John Prine’s self-titled debut album marked the arrival of a singer/songwriter whose tunes mixed wit and empathy in his observations of the world. The ecological themes of “Paradise” and the loneliness of old age in “Hello In There” resonate today. Prine revisits that creatively rich time on “The Singing Mailman Delivers. The title refers to his job as a letter carrier in Chicago, where he would write songs in his head while
tive versions and Isaak would have been better off digging deeper into their song catalogs. More successful are Isaak’s recordings of lesser-known songs, including Warren Smith’s “So Long, I’m Gone” and the rockabilly obscurity, “Miss Pearl.” Isaak contributes one of his own songs—the uptempo “Live It Up”—which recalls the best work of Ricky Nelson. . NOVEMBER 2011
keresman on disc Jimi Hendrix In the West Experience Hendrix/Legacy Elvis Presley Young Man with the Big Beat RCA/Lecacy For the benefit of the historically challenged, these two gents epitomized the eras in which they lived (and their eras overlapped, oddly enough). They’ve more in common than you think—both came from humble origins, both were sexualized performers, were cheered on and jeered at, after/because of them popular music would never be the same, and excessive lifestyles destroyed them. Another thing: Their respective approaches were based in the blues, and both of these collections highlight that aspect. Jimi Hendrix is known as a wild-man guitar innovator, pushing the instrument into areas it’d never been before, but he was a tremendous, sensitive, passionate blues player (“Red House” and “Little Wing”). In the West is one of the earliest posthumous Hendrix releases, and for many years incredibly rare. It’s been restored to circulation with improved sound, but, a CAVEAT: While there are extra tracks this go-‘round, there are at least two songs different than the original vinyl version (Hendrix-ophiles take note). That said, In the West is one of the BEST of his posthumous releases—sound-wise, the level of inspiration, and the inclusion of rarities Jimi Hendrix. (the Sgt. Pepper’s theme, songs by Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins). As Coltrane to the saxophone, so Hendrix to the guitar. The Presley box is virtually everything from 1956, when Elvis ascended to American stardom and when his M.O. was still what’s called “roots music” these days—undiluted rock & roll, rhythm & blues, country, and combinations thereof. He rocked hard and unapologetically. It’s like Elvis was serving the world notice—two days after he turned 21 he recorded “Heartbreak Hotel,” which rose to the top of the pop, R&B, and country charts. That year also saw “Love Me Tender” and “My Baby Left Me”—no other lad of the pale persuasion sung like he done. Nearly everything that followed in his wake—Beatles, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and on and on—bore the impact of these recordings. EP didn’t “sing” or “steal” blues—he transformed it, along with pop, gospel, whatever, with one of the most distinctive voices ever. There are lo-fidelity live shows, studio outtakes, and interviews—five discs worth. It’s a hefty investment, indeed—but if you’re a fan or a rock & roll scholar, a most worthy one. legacyrecordings.com [both] firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mekons Ancient & Modern Sin/Bloodshot One thing that’s wrong with being a history buff is one gets to see mankind make similar mistakes continually. The Mekons is a band with an appreciation for history, as befitting a band that’s been around since 1976—on the lyrics sheet for their album Honky Tonkin’ each song has a bibliography. Ancient & Modern artfully/cryptically displays parallels between years 1911 and 2011. (A bit later in the teens, World War I occurred, a wee happenstance which set the stage for World War II, an “episode” that affected nearly the entire planet, its reverberations felt still.)
The Mekons. Photo: Francesca Allen.
But what’s it “sound like?” Ancient & Modern steps away from their joyously incendiary rock & roll toward acoustic-based styles. As an entity, the Mekons is very much inspired by the Band (Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, those lads)—they’ve covered their “The Shape I’m In” and “Makes No Difference,” and like many Band songs, A&M’s tunes feel like they’re coming from some long-ago epoch that you can’t put a finger on. Acoustic guitars and Susie Honeyman’s fiddle are more prominent than usual, and there’s a very English old-timey ambience evoking the Kinks (circa Village Green) and Rod Stewart (circa 1969-70). Phil Ochs, Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and early 20th century pop are other benchmarks for this opus. “Geeshie,” bittersweetly sung by Sally Timms, evokes the cabaret tunes of Brecht & Weill (“raise a glass of wine/and try to still time”). Ancient & Modern is the Mekons’s audio version of Bob Fosse’s Cabaret (1972)—NOT style-wise, but as a sardonically tuneful chronicle of a world teetering toward calamity. bloodshotrecords.com T with the Maggies T with the Maggies 1/2 Compass Ever notice that “supergroups” don’t exist long and/or invariably disappoint? T with the Maggies is a “supergroup,” but unless you’re steeped in contemporary/traditional Irish folk, you’ll likely not know this. Moya Brennan, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and Mairéad Ní Dhomhnaill are known as singers with Clannad, Altan, and Nightnoise (and one of ‘em is Enya’s sister). They sing in English and (mostly)
LEXICROCKERY by Robert Gordon MARK KERESMAN Ratings: =skip it; =mediocre; =good; =excellent; =classic
The Super-Rich Demographclique: The top .1% wealth hoarders who, via activist legislative, judicial and media minions, keep the money flowing unabated up to them. Coalition of the Shilling: The corporate coalition who are shilling that they are “job creators,” after imposing three decades of “right-sizing,” “re-engineering,” “restructuring,” and “outsourcing” on the American worker, all aimed at American job elimination.
of aggression and maturity (whilst only rarely melodramatic). Those thinking rock & roll “stopped” in 1965, ’75, ’85, etc., owe it to themselves to glom these hoagie- and paella-eaters pronto. gethip.com
T with the Maggies.
Either/Orchestra Mood Music for Time Travelers Accurate A virtual Boston institution, small big band Either/Orchestra (10-12 members, give or take) has been redefining large(r)combo jazz under the big radar since 1985. Neither overtly “avant-garde,” mainstream, nor retro, E/O proceed from the basis of Gil Evans and Charles Mingus, melding assorted influences from soul-jazz, pop, rock, and Ethiopian traditional and
Manureal: Current Congressional legislative process akin to throwing manure against the wall, discovering that their mural doesn’t do anything but stink, then pinning blame on the executive branch for mucking up their legislation process. Reprehensitives: The reprehensible representatives of the 112th Congress. Blunderbus: Refers to any embarrassing blunder where the blunderer: 1] makes an issue of something that is patently insignificant; 2] doesn’t realize the issue was debunked months earlier; 3] the blunderer himself is guilty of doing what he’s criticizing. Blunderbus enters the vernacular thanks to Senator John McCain’s poutrage about President Obama’s touring in a Canadian-made bus—a non-issue that had been ignominiously debunked months earlier when the Secret Service disclosed that it, not Obama, had ordered the bus during the George W. Bush Administration. Bush’s campaign bus had also been made in Canada. However, in the ultimate of blunderbus gaffs, McCain’s very own “Straight Talk Express” bus was also made in—you guessed it— Canada.
Gaelic with harmonies eerily dazzling, dignified, and sometimes otherworldly. Recorded with minimal keyboards, stringed things, and percussion, TwtM hums with ancient rhythm and wisdom, soothing without blandness. Imagine Enya acoustic/unplugged and less New Age-y, an Irish Mia Doi Todd. or a Celtic Bjork. Nicely done. compassrecords.com The Cynics Spinning Wheel Motel Get Hip Twenty-seven years—after that time-span, most bands are either history or parodies of themselves. (Take a bow, Mick— white spandex pants look silly past 40.) Not these Cynics—these Pittsburgh PA-based garage rats still got the right stuff. (One of the precious few comparing is the Mekons…but I digress.) All essentials are in place—emotionally direct, plaintive vocals; fierce guitar that seethes surly and jangles sweet, a rhythm section that punches like Jake LaMotta, and perhaps most importantly, this dictum: Never use more notes or chords than you must. Most of their melodic hooks infect your head’s tape-loop before songs’ end, and Michael Kastelic’s voice has aged gracefully, achieving a balance
Google Girth: Special Google Earth wide-angle satellite developed for tracking Chris Christie’s whereabouts.
pop sounds. E/O has incubated much talent, most famously John Medeski (of Martin & Wood fame) and Matt Wilson, and, along with sax-guy Russ Gershon’s tunes, is known to draw upon Bobbie Gentry, Sonny Rollins, and King Crimson for material. Mood Music is a swingin’ smorgasbord of droll delights, from the opening groove-party “Shimmy” (think ‘60s Ramsey Lewis and Herbie Hancock) to the breezy, coot-cat bossa nova of “Coolocity” to the pensive and sparking gospel- and Afro-pop-infused “Suriname.” Assured precision, wit, conciseness, and vivid inspiration—that’s the ticket. accuraterecords.com
Imbecilical Cord: Imbecilic, inconsistent differentiation that all life supported by an umbilical cord is precious but once the cord is cut, the mature organism is fair game for torture, collateral damage, execution, and similar atrocities afforded those whose life is not precious.
nick’s picks 3 Cohens 1/2 Family Anzic Records The three Cohens, trumpeter Avishai, tenor saxophonist-clarinetist Anat and soprano saxophonist Yuval, kick off their third outing with a dazzling dance number, “Shufla de Shufla,” that sounds like a souped up Horace Silver number with a dollop of Louis Armstrong. It sets the upbeat mood for Family, an album that taps into jazz as a dance tradition with smartly compelling originals and stylistic arrangements of “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans” and Ellington’s blues drenched “The Mooch,” proving that the Marsalis family doesn’t own sole custody of Duke’s legacy. While the
The Tierney Sutton Band American Road BFM Band For much of her career, singer Tierney Sutton has invested in the great American Songbook with an earnest point-of-view that’s highly personalized and intrinsically musical. After 18 years with her esteemed band, pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Kevin Axt, Trey Henry and drummer/percussionist Ray Brinker, Sutton looks to their life on the road for her ninth album American Road, a cultural chronicle that enlists tunes by Leonard Bernstein (“Somewhere,” “Something’s Coming/Cool”) and Gershwin (“It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “Summertime,” “My Man’s Gone Now”) side by side with the melodic
Yuval Cohen, soprano saxophone, Anat Cohen, tenor saxophone, Avishai Cohen, trumpet
siblings are Israeli born, they’ve achieved notable success as individual soloists nationally and abroad. Avishai (SFJazz Collective) is a bright, inventive trumpeter with a sound that’s as sweet as it is tangy, while soprano sax player Yuval soars particularly on the whirling, swirling rhythm of “With a Soul Of The Greatest Of Them All (Dedicated To Charles Mingus).” A deservedly and consistent winner of jazz polls, Anat blows fiercely on “Blues For Dandi’s Orange Bull” and later cools it Benny Goodman-style on the dashing multi-culti “Tiger Rag,” with doses of sweet, ripe notes that swoop and swing. Family honors a range of musical traditions with a harmonious flow that connects the Cohen’s heritage with America’s deep jazz roots. The breathless mix of tunes is brought to the dance floor through the exemplary skills of pianist Aaron Goldberg, fellow SFJazz Collective member, bassist Matt Penman, and beat-arrific drummer Gregory Hutchinson. These ferociously good musicians invite vocalist Jon Hendricks on board for “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” and “Roll ‘Em Pete,” two numbers that cement the Cohen’s love affair with Louis Armstrong and while Hendrick’s voice has an autumnal glow, his phrasing and resounding sincerity is killer. (10 tracks; 63:03 minutes)
kick of “On Broadway” and a lush, bass driven “Amazing Grace.” In tone, it’s a sprawling poetic narrative performed with a refreshing candor that reframes Sutton’s jazz singer tag. Although she wears that badge honorably on the sublime piano duet “Tenderly,” she mostly sheds the jazz pretext on the breezy pop groove of “Wayfaring Stranger” and the beats that underscore “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” And, actually, it’s that earthy, soulful vibe that makes Sutton and her band sound so good. In much the same way that bassist Charlie Haden and guitarist Pat Metheny created Beyond The Missouri Sky, Tierney and the band strike a balance between patriotism and love of the land, most notably on “America the Beautiful,” a wistful ballad clearly performed in a contemporary context that Sutton infuses with equal parts hope and heartbreak. (12 tracks; 61:16 minutes)
Nick Bewsey has been writing about jazz for ICON since 2004. A member of The Jazz Journalists Association, he blogs about jazz and entertainment at www.jazzinspace.blogspot.com. Twitter: @countingbeats 58
Giacomo Gates 1/2 The Revolution Will Be Jazz: The Songs Of Gil Scott-Heron Savant For a singer, Giacomo Gates’s 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, risks a bittersweet listen since Scott-Heron passed away during Gates’s recording of the album, but with Gates at the helm the experience proves to be willfully celebratory. A former construction worker, Gates stepped into the professional jazz
NICK BEWSEY Ratings: =skip it; =mediocre; =good; =excellent; =classic
arena late in life and there’s a refreshing knock-about quality he brings to standards. Revolution is this singer’s tour-de-force, 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
ument of a new leader in action. In spirit, Strickland is a lot like Wayne Shorter whose best tunes have clarity and complexity, while remaining forever beautiful. Strickland’s music approaches that quality thanks to an ace team (bassist Ben Williams, pianist David Bryant, and drummer E.J. Strickland, Marcus’s twin brother) and these two discs are braided into a satisfying whole. (10 tracks; 50:43 minutes/ 7 tracks; 69:44 minutes)
Vocalist Giacomo Gates with the Guffman Trio. Photo: Norman Vickers
(“Lady Day and John Coltrane.”) Gates is a storyteller standing somewhere between Van Morrison and Mose Allison, and this recording seduces with old-school charm especially when Gates kicks in his flawless vocalese—the wordless note-perfect vocals that singer Eddie Jefferson perfected. (10 tracks; 50:05 minutes) Marcus Strickland Triumph Of The Heavy, Vol 1 and 2 Strick Music Saxophonist Marcus Strickland’s striking double recording and seventh overall, Triumph Of The Heavy is an affirmative and dynamic experience that delivers both a studio-bound date with his quartet and a trio concert recorded at Firehouse 12 in Connecticut. The well-written tunes on “Volume 1” have catchy hooks (“Lilt” and “A World Found”) and a healthy dose of modern swing (“A Temptress’ Gate) along with a depth of emotion (“Dawn” floats on the melodious notes from Strickland’s soprano sax.) There’s the soul-jazz groove on the bouncing “Bolt Bus Jitter” and the multi-track fusion of horns that preface “Virgo” to keep you fired up. On disc two, the piano-less trio in a live setting induces knotty adventures in sound, but Strickland deftly navigates through choppy waters and gives us a vivid docNOVEMBER 2011
The Los Angeles Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle DO OR DYE SITUATION By Peter Koetters Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
ACROSS 1 Makes a short putt 7 Dabs with a towel 14 Macedonian birthplace of Mother Teresa 20 Fired up 21 Collectibles from faraway lands 22 Covets 23 *Dangerously close call 25 2010 World Series champs 26 Bar lineup 27 Derby title? 28 Like a drumhead 30 Fund-raising gp. 31 Autobahn distances: Abbr. 33 *Attachment for a paint gun 36 Do in, as the Jabberwock 37 Glosses over 40 Recognizes, briefly 41 DDE’s challenger 42 Tax pro 43 The eleventh hour 46 Jutland resident 48 Loses one’s poker face, say 51 *Interrogator’s approach 54 Like a rational number’s denominator 55 “Rocky __ to Dublin”: Irish jig 56 Major or Minor constellation 57 Leave at the altar 58 Italian possessive pronoun 59 Wrapped up 62 United Nations Plaza array 64 Type of geometry 66 Onetime Italian leader Aldo 67 *“Nothing to it!” 69 “Splendor in the Grass” writer 70 Meaty tomato 72 Singer Rimes 73 Add to a database 74 George Strait’s “All My __ Live in Texas” 75 Beatles album with “Act Naturally” 76 Wishes otherwise 77 Fit for duty 79 Rummy action 81 *Be up to snuff 86 Feeling no pain 87 Blue-ribbon 88 Foggy state 89 Wedding page word 90 An NFL Manning 91 Oral health org. 93 Sealy competitor 94 Certain NCO 96 *Running back, often 101 Double curve
102 Cousteau’s sea 103 Scuttlebutt 104 Jekyll’s alter ego 105 “__ I ever!” 108 Arctic garment 110 Weaves, or what the starts of the starred answers are, in a way 115 Clock radio button 116 Actress Francis and others 117 Overwhelming amount 118 It hits the nail on the head 119 Bridge support 120 Pericles, famously
DOWN 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 24 29 31 32 34 35 36 38 39 42 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 52 53 54
Key beside Q Egypt’s cont. Grade school operator Over-the-shoulder accessory Texter’s “Seems to me ...” Mudpuppies’ kin Snoopy, to Charlie Neolithic dig find __ special: menu board heading Uncompromising Old way to place a collect call Sales slip: Abbr. Jubilant game-player’s cry Slick transition Make a string of purls? Fertility clinic cells *Greenskeeper’s concern Popular Volkswagen Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” e.g. AOL, e.g. Roker and Gore German statesman Helmut XIX Olympic Winter Games year It means nothing to Sarkozy Off-the-wall Jack Blum’s “Meatballs” character Legal contract adverb Prepared to sing the national anthem Prefix with grade “__ body meet ...” Area between goals Immoral Notre Dame’s Parseghian Esther of “Good Times” Post-disaster sorting process Cornhusker rival Snake oil salesman Strongly suggest Beantown, e.g.
57 Valdez with a burro 59 Sticks in the mud 60 Sartre play with the line “Hell is other people” 61 *Where a star prepares to shine 63 Spring 64 PayPal funds, e.g. 65 Family meal setting 67 Wing: Prefix 68 Podiatry matters 71 Tremble in fear 73 “__ Dream”: Wagner aria 76 Go on the lam 78 Future flower 80 Online tech news site 81 Electromagnet feature 82 Actor Morales 83 Ventilated 84 Turns bad 85 Strands of double helices 87 Something with a bag of chips? 90 Tuner’s talent 91 Full of gusto 92 Philadelphia university 94 Really pound 95 Yellow-flowered plant often used medicinally 96 Hog owner 97 Pablo Neruda’s homeland 98 Lew of “All Quiet on the Western Front”
99 Farmyard female 100 Repetitive musical piece 103 Foggy state 106 Cybercafé patron 107 Oscar winner Kedrova 109 Data storage acronym 111 Flight board abbr.
112 “The Waste Land” monogram 113 Vietnam’s __ Dinh Diem 114 Sun. delivery
Answer in next month’s issue.
Answer to October’s puzzle, GIVE IT SOME GAS
By Rafil Kroll-Zaidi
A compendium of research facts A PITCHER PLANT IN Somerset ate a great tit; kebabs were blamed for an E. coli outbreak in Wales; and Gary, a giant gourami at Sea Life London Aquarium, was weaned off his diet of Kit Kats. University of Leicester forensic engineers devised a test to ascertain the amount of force used in bottle stabbings. “It is common knowledge that broken glass bottles can be used as an effective stabbing weapon,” said the lead researcher. “The results of the study have reaffirmed this.” Thirty-five male skeletons at Oxford were determined to have been murdered on orders from Ethelred the Unready, and a team of university researchers and experts from the Royal Armouries found it enormously taxing to walk on a treadmill while wearing steel plate armor. Two of the first four brains of former Canadian Football League players to be donated to the Canadian Sports Concussion Project showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The Edmonton Obesity Staging System improved on Body Mass Index in predicting morbidity among the fat. Half of Toronto’s homeless were using street drugs to treat their pain, and poor Americans were found no likelier than the rich to borrow prescription medication. One third of the increase in U.S. wage inequity among men since the 1970s was blamed on the decline of unions. Narcissists appear to be good leaders but aren’t. IT WAS DECREED THAT gravity is stronger and the electromagnetic force weaker than previously thought. Purple bronze was observed to break the Wiedemann–Franz Law. Chemists at Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität refined the Suzuki Reaction. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease was arrested in mice. Mice with monoamine-oxidase-A deficiency are insufficiently afraid of anesthetized rats. German and Spanish mice, in crossbreeding with Algerian mice, had produced a new species resistant to poisons. Israeli rock hyraxes were settling amid the rubble of Galilee. Baby Nazca boobies who are sexually or physically abused by unrelated adults tend, as adults, to abuse baby boobies. The moaning of female moose, in protest of propositioning by small males, incites larger males to violence against all males. Male Houbara bustards who spend more time on courtship displays in their youth experience severe age-related declines in sperm quality. Paleontologists identified a 78-million-year-old fetal plesiosaur as the earliest evidence of live birth. Scientists wanted more children. MARINE BIOLOGISTS HOPED TO deter lampreys with the smell of death, Scottish authorities erected a barrier to prevent American crayfish in the River Clyde from spreading to the River Annan, and British waterways were fighting off invasive Russian zebra mussels. “The mussels live in the River Ancholme,” said Anglian Water water-supply manager Kevin Fish. Cod tend to return every day to the same location within the same shipwreck. “Maybe,” noted the investigating ichthyologist of her Ph.D. research, “it sounds a bit boring.” The fruit bats of Beit Shemesh travel nightly to the same trees to feed. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientists who fed toucans in Rotterdam one hundred Panamanian nutmeg seeds each and found that the birds regurgitate them after holding them in their crops for an average of 25.5 minutes subsequently concluded that wild Panamanian toucans distribute digested seeds more evenly in the morning than after lunch. Cocaine addicts prefer $500 in cash now to $1,000 worth of cocaine later. Menthol cigarettes make quitting harder. Astronomers declared TrES-2b the blackest planet in the universe.
Music and comedy this month at the Mauch Chunk Opera House NOVEMBER BRINGS SOME OF the types of performances to the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe that have cemented its reputation as a particularly exceptional venue in which to experience a show. The rich sound, handled by house engineer Vincent DeGiosio, has been enhanced in recent years with the addition of new equipment for the floor and balcony. Combined with the natural acoustics of the building, that sound led Garrison Keillor favorites The Wailin’ Jennys to record their live album Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House here two years Nu-Utopians ago. The month begins with the alt-folk group Girlyman on November 4. It’s hard to pry their songs loose from your mind once you’ve heard them. Bathed in some of the most inspiring three-part harmonies you’ll ever hear, the songs also benefit from some exceptionally fine songwriting from the three founding members of the group, Nate, Doris, and Ty. Formerly produced by Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, Girlyman exudes an unpretentious, but clearly urban air, by virtue of their textured, intelligent songs. It’s not unusual for any venue to play recorded music before a show, and in between sets. What is unusual however, is when the music causes Opera House patrons to continually ask who the artists are. In this case, it is the music of John Lennon, reworked by the Nu-Utopians, and led by Rex Fowler, of Aztec 2-Step fame. They totally re-invent this much-admired canon of songs in a way that is both familiar, but totally new. Mr. Fowler brings with him a remarkable team of six musician/singers to his show at the Opera House on November 5. If it were just his likeness to John Denver that was all that was necessary for his tribute to the great singer-songwriter, Ted Vigil would be in the clear before he got started. But his performances are such that Steve Weismann, Mr. Denver’s former lead guitarist, accompanies him in this ringing tribute to one of America’s most well-known performers at the Opera House on Saturday, November 12. Audiences will be amazed at how much Mr. Vigil not only looks the part, but how well he performs the parts too. Appearing at the Opera House on November 18th, Cheryl Wheeler writes songs that naturally get the attention of other performers. Dan Seals, Peter Paul and Mary, Kenny Loggins, Garth Brooks, Suzy Boggus, Melanie, and Bette Midler have all recorded her compositions. While her songs may be familiar, she is known as a powerful performer, bringing the audience along for an emotional ride while she tells stories and sings songs. Ladies Nite Out Comedy caps November shows at the Opera House on the 19th with the edgy comics Jodi Wiener and Susan Prekel. Neither comedian lays claim to leaving audiences with anything more profound than a hilarious and bawdy good time, enjoyable for both the guys and the gals.
Whoopee! Winner of the
ICON monthly drawing for
DINNER FOR TWO: WAYNE CAUBLE You can win, too. Here’s how: Send an email with the subject line
Glorious Food Then write your full name and send to
Whoopee! Winner of the
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DINNER FOR TWO: BOB & LYNN MILLAR You can win, too. Here’s how: Send an email with the subject line
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29 / FEATURE / OLD CITY ART
got second place in the dirtiest category!” LaPelle blames the city for making it tougher for art galleries to flourish. “In Philadelphia there’s a 2% sales tax, a use and occupancy tax on commercial use of the space even if I make no sales. I pay on gross receipts whether or not I make any net profits. The economy of Philadelphia is so bad that the bookends of business, Goodwill Industries and the Mafia, both went broke here. And do you want to know something else?” he asks, “the Parking Authority is not giving money to the schools despite a 2007 agreement they made in which they were supposed to do this. The PPA has accumulated some 48 million bucks but now the city wants to raise taxes because they can’t collect the money from PPA.” Get LaPelle going and he’ll tell you how he once met art historian, architect and Philadelphia Museum of Art Director Fiske Kimball; how he used to have amiable Rittenhouse chats with Henry Mcilhenny (while the latter walked his poodle) and about the time that Whoopie Goldberg visited his gallery and promised to buy something at “a later date.” “Though Whoopie said, ‘I’ll be back,’ I’m still waiting. I try to outwait everyone,” LaPelle says. On any given First Friday, you’ll find soda and cookies at LaPelle’s, but not wine. “I don’t want to compete with restaurants,” he says, “and I don’t want to deal with a drunken crowd. But yes, we stay open till they stop coming, and that’s after midnight sometimes. I sold a $2,500 painting after midnight recently. That’s a good time for chats and to dispense advice to young artists. I tell these young artists that if they see stuff that’s a great bargain and if you have 100 bucks, buy it. I try to tell them about the time I bought a print for eight bucks and sold it for $3,500.” While almost all Old City galleries are at street level, the James Oliver Gallery at 723 Chestnut Street is a 4th floor walkup. For serious collectors willing to walk the four flights of stairs to Oliver’s upscale “perfect space” environment, a glass of wine awaits. Oliver’s easy manner can perhaps be attributed to his Austin, Texas roots and the fact that for many years he was a musician by trade. “We went all out to make this into a really beautiful space,” he tells me. “For starters, we have beautiful arched windows overlooking Chestnut Street.” Then there’s the art, mostly minimalist, with the accent on contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography and glass art installations. Very often there are “theme-inspired” shows in the gallery that Oliver says are designed to attract the more sophisicated art lover. “The fact that not many galleries in Old City and in Philadelphia have not closed because of the economic downturn is something positive to recognize,” he says, “but overall sometimes the galleries in the city are a little wanting—often there’s a lack of consistency in the whole gallery scene in general.” Oliver admits to having some reservations about the First Friday crowds, which are not only getting larger, but younger. “People generally have heard through the grapevine that it’s become more of a younger crowd, college aged, or they witness this fact for themselves. I sometimes get a little frustrated with it because the whole thing is more like going out for a party. People in crowds will walk by someone looking at a painting without acknowledging that the person is looking at a piece and that they need that space. “ Oliver says that while the economy has forced him to do
some things out of pocket, generally the gallery is moving along and getting a fair amount of attention. “We’ve always had a fair amount of press,” he adds confidently. “We started from the very beginning to have very strong shows. We always try to up the ante.” Christine Pfister, of Old City’s Pentimenti Gallery at 145 N. 2nd Street, maintains that while Pentimenti has been affected by the economic downturn, Old City is still the place in Philadelphia to shop for art. “There’s no doubt about that. We are over 26 galleries over two blocks, all on street level, with the exception of James Oliver, of course. Pfister, who hails from Switzerland, says Pentimenti is doing fine. “We’ve been in business for 18 years. I think the longevity of the gallery is a help to the current crisis in a sense, and I do have clients who have always collected art.” The art scene in Old City, she says, reminds her of Chelsea rather than SoHo. “Because Chelsea is the place in New York for art today, not SoHo.” “First Friday is still important because it’s when a large number of people will actually come to our city. Serious collectors, if they want to buy work at your gallery and if they know that this show is upcoming, will come before the opening.” Pfister thinks that despite the social aspect of First Friday—“people meeting and having a good time”—the event is still important. “I’ve had people in town from San Francisco stop in and buy something to take home with them. You never know who you’re going to meet.” Old City’s Gallery Joe, at 304 Arch Street, was opened by Becky Kerlin in 1993. Originally from Ohio, Kerlin lived in New York City for a while before heading to Bucks County in the late 1980s. Intent on establishing a more urban environment, Kerlin traded Bucks County for Old City “because opening a gallery in New York City wasn’t really an option.” Old City, however, was the kind of place where Kerlin felt she could grow and learn rather than “disappearing” in Manhattan. Gallery Joe deals in contemporary drawing, mostly abstract, with at least half of the exhibiting artists from Philadelphia, the other half, as Kerlin says, “from all over the world.” For Kerlin, Old City “has been great. She’s also pleased with the area, where she says that only one or two galleries have closed, although she’s quick to explain that in some cases “closed” just means they moved and reopened elsewhere. She mentions a couple of student galleries that have come and gone but for the most part she’s adamant that Old City as an art Mecca is pretty stable. For Tereza Gowden, a native of Brazil, and assistant manager of the Knapp Gallery (162 N. 3rd Street), First Friday is the best thing “they ever did for the city.” The Knapp Gallery, which opened in 2006, is owned by Rebecca Knapp. It’s a mixed-use space. In 2010 Knapp hosted a staged event presented by the Center City Opera Theater. As for contemporary art sales, Gowden tells me, “Well, we cannot complain. We are not selling five paintings a month but we are selling them. Of course it’s not enough. It could be better!” That refrain is echoed by The F.A.N. Gallery (221 Arch Street) owner Fred Al-Nkb, who says that Philadelphia galleries in general don’t make enough money to compete with New York galleries. “There’s no consistency in sales. One December could be good, another December terrible. But I can’t complain,” he adds philosophically, “I have a lot of loyal clients that buy from me, and I enjoy their business.”
going out calendar ART EXHIBITS THRU 11/17 Howard Pyle. Brandywine River Museum, U.S. Route 1, Chadds Ford, PA 610-3882700. brandywinemuseum.org THRU 11/19 111th Anniversary Exhibition of Works on Paper. Opening reception 10/2, 2-4. Philadelphia Watercolor Society. Community Arts Center, 414 Plush Mill Rd., Wallingford. pwcsociety.org THRU 11/20 Daniel Watts: From Stillness. The Quiet Life Gallery, 17 So. Main St., Lambertville, NJ. Wed.-Sun. quietlifegallery, 609-397-0880 THRU 11/27 John Andrulis: Retrospective. Jennifer Hudson’s "Baptism" continues in Upstairs Gallery II. Red Filter Gallery, 74 Bridge St., Lambertville, NJ. Thurs–Sun 12-5. 347-2449758. redfiltergallery.com. THRU 11/27 A Different View No. 2. Invitational Exhibition of 12 Abstract Artists. Coryell Gallery, 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville, NJ 609-397-0804 coryellgallery.com THRU 12/17 Moments: Shooting the Pulitzer. Pulitzer Prize- winning AP photographs. Tues-Fri 1-5; Sat 12-5. Lafayette College, Grossman Gallery, Easton, PA. 610-330-5361. http://galleries.lafayette.edu THRU 12/18 Maria Martinez-Canás, photography. Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri 11-5; Thurs 11-8; Sat & Sun 12-5. Lafayette College, Williams Center Gallery, Easton, PA. 610-330-5361. http://galleries.lafayette.edu THRU 12/31 here. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 215-972-7600 pafa.org THRU 12/31 Quilt Art. James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 S. Pine St., Doylestown. 215-340-9800. michenerartmuseum.org THRU 12/31 Serenity in Surrealism, internationally known artist, Evgeni Gordiets. Artist’s reception, Sat., Oct. 15, 6-9pm. Designs for Tranquility, 41 Bridge St., Frenchtown, NJ. 908996-9990. designsfortranquility.com THRU 1/15/12 Shared Treasure: The Legacy of Samuel H. Kress. Allentown Art Museum of Lehigh Valley, 31 N., 5th. St., Allentown, PA. 610-4324333. allentownartmuseum.org THRU 1/29/12 Masterpieces by Andrew Wyeth from the Collections. Brandywine River Museum, Rte. 1, Chadds Ford. 610-388-2700. brandywinemuseum.org THRU 4/1/2012 The Painterly Voice. Michener Art Museum, 138 S. Pine St, Doylestown, PA. 215-3409800. michenerartmuseum.org 11/6 Aylin Green. Meet the artist event, featuring paintings & prints by the Lambertville artist, 2-4. Modern Love, 23 Race St., Frenchtown, NJ. 908-996-3387. shopmodernlove.com 11/3-12/10 Max Victor Alper, Persona. Reception
11/11, 6-10. Color C-print photographs. Soft Machine Gallery, 725 No. 15th St., Allentown, PA. 484-838-4252. softmachinegallery.com 11/5-11/26 Peter Fiore, The Visionary Landscape. Opening reception Nov 5, 5-8 & Nov 6, 12-4. Travis Gallery, 6089 Lower York Rd. (Rt. 202), New Hope, PA. 215-794-3903. travisgallery.com 11/5-12/10 Chuck Zovko, New Works. Meet the artist, Nov. 27, 1-4. The Snow Goose Gallery, 470 Main St., Bethlehem, PA. 610-974-9099. thesnowgoosegallery.com 11/11, 12, 13 Sherry Tinsman, metalsmith. 11/11 & 11/12, 10-9; 11/13, 10-6. Artisans Gallery, Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, PA. 215-794-3112. 11/11-12/4 Ed Bronstein: At Home in the Neighborhood. Opening reception 11/11, 6-9. Twenty-Two Gallery, 236 So. 22nd St., Philadelphia. 215-772-1911. twenty-twogallery.com. 11/12 Alan Fetterman: Regional Life & Times. Opening reception 11/12, 6:30-9. Book signing 11/26, 12-6. Silverman Gallery, Buckingham Green, Route 202, Holicong, PA. 215794-4300. thesilvermangallery.com. 11/13 The George Bramhall Memorial Art Exhibition & Sale benefits cancer research at Fox Chase Cancer Center and features local artists. Sunday, November 13, 12–5pm at New Hope Eagle Fire Hall, New Hope, PA. Free admission and parking. 11/12-12/17 Works in Wood, 11th Annual New Hope Arts Exhibition, featuring 30 artists. Reception & awards, Nov 12, 6-8. New Hope Arts, 2 Stockton Ave., New Hope, PA. 215-8629606. newhopearts.org 11/25-12/4 Galerie Marta Whistler will be holding its annual sale for ten days only from Friday, November 25 every day through Sunday, December 4. All paintings, oil pastels and sculpture by this noted artist will be sold at a 50% discount. This is a special once-a-year event.158-B Northampton Street, Easton, PA. www.martawhistler.com
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: www.goggleworks.org/Exhibitions/. GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, 201 Washington St., Reading, PA, 19601. 610 374 4600, www.goggleworks.org
THEATER THRU 11/6 Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St, Allentown. muhlenberg.edu/theatre 484664-3333. THRU 12/30 The Golden Girls, a murder mystery. Fri & Sat 7:15pm, $51.95/perons, includes dinner, show, tax & gratuity. Peddler’s Pub, Cock’ N
Bull Restaurant, Rt. 263 & Street Rd., Lahaska, PA. 215-794-4051. peddlersvillage.com 11/18 The Gong Show Live! State Theatre, 453 Northampton St., Easton, PA. 610-252-3132. statetheatre.org 11/30-12/4 Curse of the Starving Class, by Sam Shepard. Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew Street, Allentown, PA. 484-664-3333 muhlenberg.edu/theatre. 12/1-12/18 Christmas City Follies X11. Touchstone Theatre, 321 East 4th St., Bethlehem, PA. 610867-1689. email@example.com 12/3 Myles Cavanaugh: Places and Times to Remember. Opening reception 12/3, 6-9. Silverman Gallery, Buckingham Green, Route 202, Holicong, PA. 215-794-4300. thesilvermangallery.com.
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. hamiltonsgrillroom.com Saturday nights: Sette Luna Restaurant, 219 Ferry St., Easton, PA. 610-253-8888. setteluna.com
CONCERTS Some organizations perform in various locations. If no address is listed, check the website for location of performance. 11/4-11/6 Emerging Choreographers Concert, Dances. Act 1 Performing Arts, DeSales University, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, Schubert Theatre, 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley, PA. 610-282-3192. desales.edu/act1 11/11 Pacifica Quartet, 8pm. Chamber Music Society of Bethlehem, Faith United Church, 5992 Rt. 378, Center Valley, PA. Tickets: lvartsboxoffice.org. www.cmsob.org 11/13 Handel / Vivaldi. David Kim, conductor and violin. 2:30pm. Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, Broad St., Philadelphia. 215-893-1709. chamberorchestra.org. 11/14 Handel / Vivaldi. David Kim, conductor and violin. 7:30pm. Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, Broad St., Philadelphia. 215-893-1709. chamberorchestra.org.
zoellnerartscenter.org 11/19 Two Giants: Mozart & Beethoven. Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra, Allan Birney, Music Director. Symphony Hall, 23 N. 6th St., Allentown, PA. Tickets: 610-434-7811, LVArtsBoxOffice.org, PASinfonia.org 11/27 A Lehigh Valley Christmas, In Concert. Allentown symphony Hall, 23 N. 6th St., Allentown, PA. 610-432-6715. allentownsymphony.org/LVxmas.aspx 12/3 Happy Holidays! Family Concert for children up to age nine, their families and friends, 10 & 11:30am. Music Together Community Room, Pennington-Hopewell Rd. (Rte 654), Hopewell, NJ. Presented by Music Together teachers and Sotto Voce, Voices’ chamber chorus. Family pass, $25, adults, $10, children $8; under 2, free. Tickets: www.musictogetherprinceton.com. 609-924-7801. 12/4 Satori Chamber Ensemble. Arts at St. John’s, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 37 So. Fifth St., Allentown, PA. 610435-1641. stjohnsallentown.org 12/10 & 12/11 Christmas Concerts. The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, First Presbyterian Church of Allentown. 610-866-4382. bach.org. 12/13 Festival of Lights and Carols. Arts at St. John’s, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 37 So. Fifth St., Allentown, PA. 610435-1641. stjohnsallentown.org 12/18 & 19 Mozart / Mendelssohn. Dirk Brossé, conductor; John David Smith, horn. Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. 215-893-1709. chamberorchestra.org.
ARTSQUEST CENTER AT STEELSTACKS (Musicfest Café) 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA 610-332-1300. artsquest.org 11/10: Dar Williams 11/11: Donegan Extravaganza 11/16: California Guitar Trio 11/18: Classic Albums Live/The Beatles 11/17-19: Elizabeth Von Trapp 11/20: Salute the Troops/Allentown Band 11/25: Enter the Haggis 11/26: Southside Johnny/Asbury Jukes 12/1: Spanish Harlem Orchestra 12/2: David Bromberg 12/2, 9: Christmas 1944 12/4: Lehigh Valley Music Awards 12/9: Wilson Phillips Holiday Show 12/10: Harry Chapin - A Holiday Celebration In Song 12/14: John Pizzarelli 12/17: Sarah Ayers & Friends
11/15 Ani DeFranco. Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. 610-758-2787. zoellnerartscenter.org 11/17-19 Moving Stories. Original dance works by student choreographers. Thurs & Fri, 8pm, Sat. 2 & 8. Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew Street, Allentown, PA. muhlenberg.edu/theatre 484-664-3333 11/18 Judy Wexler. Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. 610-758-2787.
12/2: Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus Christmas Show 12/3: The Peek-A-Boo Revue Holiday Spectacular 12/9: Four Celtic Voices 12/10: Craig Thatcher and Friends Rockin’ Christmas Show 12/17: Messiah/Bach and Handel Chorale 12/30: The Tartan Terrors
EVENTS 11/3-6 Invision Photo Festival, Banana Factory, 25 W. Third St., and SteelStacks Campus, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA. Fantastic exhibitions, parties, presentations, workshops, and portfolio reviews. artsquest.org/invision 11/5 Cocktails & Collecting, 6-9pm, Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley, 31 N. 5th St., Allentown, PA. The evening will feature works of art from over 20 fine and decorative art galleries and artists from New York, Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley. Museum curators will be on hand to provide information on how to select a piece of art and start an art collection. The culinary portion of the evening will feature hors-d’oeuvres and a complimentary bar will be offered. Early–bird tickets (purchased on or before October 28) are $100 p/person; after October 28 tickets are $125 p/person. 610-432-4333. allentownartmuseum.org 11/12 & 13 17th Annual Hidden Treasures Studio Tour in the Lehigh Valley, 10-5pm. Tour the studios of talented artists that work in pottery, wood, glass, knitting and weaving, porcelain, silk, jewelry and other forms of media. hiddentreasurestour.com 11/12-12/17 Pennsylvania’s Christmas City, Bethlehem, PA. Tree lighting ceremony, Christmas City Village, Live Advent Calendar. For schedule: downtownbethlehemassociation.com or bethlehempa.org. To reserve holiday tours, 610-691-6055. 11/17-12/18 (check schedule) Christkindlmarkt. Bethlehem, Thurs-Sat. 118, Sun 11- 6. Top Holiday market in the world showcasing handmade works by nation’s finest artisans, live music, food & more. PNC Plaza at SteelStacks Campus, 645 E. First St., Bethlehem, PA. 11/23-12/23 Holiday Gallery and Sale. Fine arts & crafts by local artists. The Baum School of Art, 510 W. Linden St., Allentown, PA. 610-433-0032. baumschool.org 12/2 Cree LeFavour. Book signing event, featuring local cookbook author, 6-9. Modern Love, 23 Race St., Frenchtown, NJ. 908-9963387. shopmodernlove.com
MAUCH CHUNK OPERA HOUSE One of America’s oldest vaudeville theaters, built in 1881. 14 West Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA 570-325-0249. mauchchunkoperahouse.com
THRU 11/19 10-week children / teen art classes, The Baum School of Art, 510 W. Linden St., Allentown, PA. 610-433-0032. baumschool.org
11/4: 11/5: 11/12: 11/18: 11/19:
THRU 12/19 15-week adult art classes, The Baum School of Art, 510 W. Linden St., Allentown, PA. 610-433-0032. baumschool.org
Girlyman John Lennon Imagined John Denver Tribute Cheryl Wheeler Girls Night Out Comedy