The Inquirer’s Kevin Riordan spotlighted Philadelphia’s fluorishing local poetry culture via the excellent Apiary Magazine last week. From the piece itself: “Apiary’s first issue appeared in 2010. The magazine is Philly-centric but hardly parochial; 730 men, women, and children from all over the country submitted poetry and short fiction for the forthcoming Apiary 6.” And “Apiary, a print and online literary magazine as energetic and eclectic as the Philly poetry scene it nurtures.”
By the way, an apiary is, by Webster’s definition: “a place where bees are kept; especially a collection of hives or colonies of bees kept for their honey.” Just an FYI.
In a way, poetry’s never really been as sexy as it should be. It’s the art of words, an art form that dwells in ideas and nuance. And an intuitive and sensitive mind, one that cherishes the technicality of expression, doesn’t always lead to a well-attended and buzzworthy event. Poets have often been outsiders, too, writers who’ve known the burden of constant thought interpretation. The poetry reading and writers workshop has always been a haven of judgement-free safety. In the best way possible, the love of letters and expression of free literary thought has been a historic playground for freaks, outcasts, weirdos and philosophers.
With these two big events next week, there’s an opportunity to see just how diverse and lively Philly is as a poetry breeding ground. Apiary’s big on promoting poetry events in Philadelphia, and they’re pushing these two: the Philadelphia Poetry Grand Slam FINALS and the Philly Youth Poetry Movement Grand Slam FINALS. The more-adult Grand Slam Finals are on Friday night, May 3rd, at PhilaMOCA, but it’s still all ages; it’s at 8:30pm, and tickets are $8 in advance (and a little more at the door) and $15 for VIP. The young kids’ll be selling out the Art Museum (the Van Pelt Auditorium) with a quick 5:30pm door and 6pm sharp show time; tickets are $7 for students and the youth and $15 for adults. A special appearance is planned by the Swarthmore College Poetry Team, and last year over 400 people showed up for some slammin’.
Oh, and by the way, Apiary’s been highlighting local writers’ favorite poems all month, so I thought it’d be nice to share one of those here and now. This is Helen W. Mallon’s pick, a writer/writing coach/book reviewer, a(n excerpt from a) poem by Louise Erdrich called “Advice to Myself”:
“Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw out the cracked bowl and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and the the dead
foaming up in grey rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses the toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic–decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks….“
Whether you’ve got a passion for fashion or just an unhealthy obsession with America’s Next Top Model, this Thursday, Drexel is inviting you and the rest of the general public to a free screening of the new critically acclaimed documentary “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution,” which explores a moment that forever changed the fashion industry.
More specifically, the film recounts the 1973 fashion face-off between American and French designers at the Versailles Fashion Ball in Paris that skyrocketed American designers to international acclaim and more importantly, marked the first time black models were hired to walk the runway.
Following the screening, the film’s award-winning writer and producer Deborah Riley Draper will be joined by model Pat Cleveland for a Q&A session. Cleveland, who is featured in the film, actually walked the Versailles runway on that historic night in 1973, helping pave the way for the likes of Iman, Tyra and Naomi.
Over the course of her career, she’s modeled for every major designer in the world—Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, etc.—and was a actually in the American fashion icon Halston’s regular troupe of models, nicknamed “the Halstonettes.” While you’re there, be sure to stop into The URBN Annex’s Pearlstein Gallery where a stunning Halston-designed gown will be on display just for the occasion.
Hosted by the Design & Merchandising Program in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, the screening starts at 6 p.m. in the URBN Annex Screening Room (34th & Filbert Sts.).
While the majority of the trees and plants around town may still stand depressingly lifeless, our cherry blossoms are officially in full bloom (or at least some).
For those of you who have heard of the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, but don’t entirely understand exactly what it entails and why you should care, allow me to break it down. The month-long festival celebrates all things Japanese with a slew citywide events (workshops, performances, screenings, exhibitions, etc.)—DUH—all leading up to the centerpiece event, Sakura Sunday on April 14.
Here are a few of the festivities you can look forward to…
Japanese Culture Week: Now through Thursday, The Shops at Liberty Place are inviting folks of all ages to stop by at lunchtime and discover Japanese culture through and interactive workshop. Today you can make and take an origami folded paper ornament while tomorrow, members of the audience will be selected to experience the intricacies of Kimono dressing. Last but not least, on Thursday, you can learn how to write using Japanese Calligraphy and take home a sample. Daily through Thurs/4, 12-2pm. Free. The Shops at Liberty Place, 1625 Chestnut St.
Tamagawa University Taiko Drum and Dance Performance: Tamagawa University, a top-ranking thirty-piece troupe from Japan and the Tamagawa Taiko Drum and Dance group are joining forces, creating a unique, high-energy performance, equipped with intricate dances, thundering drums and beautiful costumes. Sat/6, 8-10pm $25-$30. The Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St.
Madam Saito’s Sushi Making Class: Every sushi lover is dying to learn how to make it themselves and who better to show you than Madame Saito, Philadelphia’s Queen of Sushi. More specifically, she’ll be showing participants how to create rolls that taste as good as they look. So be sure to come hungry and with containers so that you can take home your left-overs. Also, you must call and register in advance. Sun/7 & Wed/10, 6:30pm. $30. The Headhouse, 124 Lombard St. 215.922.2515.
Sakura Sunday: If you’re going to go to any Cherry Blossom event, this should be the one. In addition to Japanese food/product vendors, origami and calligraphy workshops, martial arts demos and drum and dance group performances, there’s the annual Harajuku Fashion Show and Prettiest Pet in Pink Parade. Meanwhile, over at the Horticulture Center’s new Sakura Pavilion you can discover the traditional elements of Sakura Sunday—from the Urasenke tea ceremony and the art of flower arrangement, known as ikebana to the elegant Japanese dance, Ichifujikai. Sun/14, 10:30am-4pm. $0-$5. Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, Montgomery Dr. & Belmont Ave.
10 Things We Saw, Heard, And Learned At #Faymeproblems Starring Alaska Thunderfuck At Tabu Last Night
Tammy Faymous can host a party. She’s a qualified and talented emcee and last night she invited RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 contestant Alaska Thunderfuck to grace Philadelphia with her presence. It was fun.
1. Tammy had a bit of a stage built up on the second floor of Tabu, a welcome addition to make better sight lines and create more of a performance space. It’s nice to have a living room feel to a drag show but last night was much more of a stage performance and it worked.
2. It started shortly after 11:30pm with Tammy wearing an unconventionally large, tall platinum wig with hints of pale pink in it. She started by toying us with the first few measures of Beyonce’s “End of Time” before she told us it wasn’t going to be that kind of show and if we didn’t like it, the door’s downstairs and Voyeur’s across the street before ripping into “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks.
3. Luna Lavey, Philly’s long-legged faerie princess nailed out a punk-flavored number and then the dark and beautiful Aeryanah Von Moi brought sultry R&B flavor. But then Maddy Milan delivered on bizarro beauty with her giant, swinging bush-anchored limp dick. Seriously, Maddy always brings it with her elaborately-handmade bodysuits and this one was perfectly over-the-top.
4. The Goddess Isis, who never disappoints, swooped in and did a Taylor Dayne song called “Original Sin,” the theme from The Shadow. She wore horns that made her look like the evil queen from Snow White. Isis always nails whatever vibe she’s trying to pull off and her witchy, Wiccan, Stevie Nicks enchantress ways were not lost on this audience.
5. Then something pretty sweet happened – Tammy did Weezer. She sang “Say It Ain’t So” and it was fantastic. Ms. Faymous always manages to inject a little bit of the unconventional, a little unexpectedness. Weezer at a drag show? Why not?
6. Alaska herself is a tall, weird queen. She had on a big, slightly natty wig and in the interview she did with Josh Middleton for G Philly, she confessed that her name came from doing drugs; weed, that is. She and some friends were getting stoned when they started talking about names of weed strands when she decided to adopt one as her stage name. Her presence is a goofy one; her face is pretty staid until she works those wild lips – it’s where she’s perhaps most expressive. She tends to pose for photos with a contorted mouth. For her first performance of the night, the crowd went ape and she did a pretty amusing mashup of RuPaul songs.
7. There were lots of straight people in attendance. Even Tammy joked throughout the show that she saw so many New Jersey names on the list of pre-ordered tickets. Even straight people love RuPaul’s Drag Race, this is a reality we live with. They even wore Alaska t-shirts. A few youngbloods went a little crazy, and even in the 10-minute set break they were dancing all over each other like they’d never had alcohol before. One lady kept pulling her shirt up and above her bra. Not cute.
8. After a typically spot-on Carrie Underwood moment from Isis with “Two Black Cadillacs,” a cute and quirky Roxxy Glamour came out and did Yelle’s “Safari Disco Club.” Lip-syncing French pop is not easy. Maddy nailed “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift, a questionable song choice because we all hate T Swift, we being the human race, but “Trouble” has that little bit of rage that Maddy channels so well. She took it to a dark and angry place that worked as well as her Limp Bizkit “Faith” moment at last winter’s Josh’s Drag Ball at iCandy. Her bandeau bikini top fell off her tits many times.
9. Tammy made a big announcement: JuJuBe’s coming to the gayborhood for Pride and Sinful Sundays. Yup, in June, the RuPaul’s Drag Race alum and America’s Asian Sweetheart is going to grace us with her electric charm. THAT’s a season I watched and THAT is a drag queen I will pay to see perform.
10. Alaska finished up with a sickening rendition of Lil’ Kim’s “How Many Licks?” in which she finished the lines with “How many licks does it take ’til you get to the center of Alaska Thunderfuck?” in a gold, lame tunic. Then Tammy sang “Glamazon” and all the girls came down with what looked like rolls of wrapping paper before they pulled the ends and they exploded with glitter and confetti. It was quite a night.
On the third season of Master of the Mix, Smirmoff sponsors an elimination-based competition with round of challenges for up-and-coming yound DJs from around the country. And Philly’s got a youngblood repping us strongly with DJ Royale, a Temple Owl who’s been working the scene hard over the past few years.
On his really quite pimp/smooth homepage, he posts a preview for the season, which kicks off Monday night, and the following:
“I’m VERY EXCITED to Announce that I’ll be competing on VH1′s Master of The Mix Season 3. This DJ Reality Show hosted by Smirnoff has selected 19 DJs from around the country to compete for $250,000 & the Title of Master of The Mix. Tune in to VH1 Monday April 1st at 10PM EST. I hope to have everyone’s support throughout the season.”
He currently holds four residencies: two in Philadelphia at Whisper and G Lounge, one in AC with a party at Dusk at Caesar’s Palace, and one in NYC at The Volstead. He’s also had runs in the past six years at a bunch of Philly locales: Tavern on Broad, Bamboo Lounge, Ortlieb’s, Bleu Martini, Recess Lounge and Lotus Lounge. He identifies with an old-school and traditional love for the craft with years of mastering transitions, technique, scratch presence and crowd manipulation. With a love for breakdancing, DJ Jazzy Jeff and B Boy culture, he started his obsession at 14 and nearly as many years later is on a national DJ show. Props on him for that.
He got to open for Jeff in Rome at the Piper Club, no doubt a career highlight for a Philly DJ. Lord knows Jeff’s a proper hero of many aspriing hip-hop heads and turntable enthusiasts. The man is talented way beyond scratchin’ and spinnin’. Royale emulates Jazz’s all-aroundedness, no doubt; respecting and striving for his knack with production, beat-making and professional flexibility. He releases a monthly mix of curated new tunes called MONTHLY MEDS and has appeared on a handful of mixtapes including collaborations.
He’s hosting a big debut viewing party at Ten Six Club at 1709 Walnut. Guest DJs include: Elivis Suarez, Arun, Mr. Sonny James and Sat One. Party kicks off at 9pm and runs right up to 2am.
Straight from the press release, here are the deets:
“Designed for solo artists, bands, and singers who are not signed to a major label record company, Unsigned Only’s goal is to find an outstanding, talented performing artist: a band, singer, or solo artist…a newcomer or veteran…raw or polished – the “gem” that needs to be discovered. Unsigned Only is looking for the total package. Launched in 2011 by the founders of the International Songwriting Competition (ISC), Unsigned Only offers the Grand Prize winner $10,000 and all First Place winners $1,000 in cash (plus additional prizes) as well as the unprecedented opportunity to be mentored by a group of record company presidents, A&R reps, and more. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for an artist to directly network with the highest level of record company professionals and get guidance, advice, feedback, and networking opportunities.
First Place and Second Place winners will also be selected in each category. Categories include: AAA (Adult Album Alternative), AC (Adult Contemporary), Christian Music, Country, Folk/Singer-Songwriter, R&B/Hip-Hop, Rock, Pop/Top 40, Teen, and Vocal Performance. All entries must be original music except for the Vocal Performance and Teen categories, which allow original or cover songs.”
That’s a lot of cash to grab at, friends. And look at all those categories! Check out the name-dropping in the list of mentors and judges:
“The judging panel is comprised of an impressive group of recording artists and top-level music journalists. Judges include: Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders); Cyndi Lauper; Iggy Pop; Carly Simon; John Oates (Hall & Oates); Eve; 3 Doors Down; Neon Trees; Brandi Carlile; Hunter Hayes; Manchester Orchestra; Black Francis (The Pixies); Ryan Bingham; Faith Evans; David Crowder; Craig Morgan; Robert Smith (The Cure); Darryl McDaniels (Run DMC); Of Monsters and Men; Wynonna; Aaron Shust; Kirko Bangz; G. Love; Jason Gray; Dustin Lynch; The Mountain Goats; Anthony DeCurtis (Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone); Josh Jackson (Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Paste Magazine); Vanessa Satten (Editor-In-Chief, XXL Magazine); Christopher Weingarten (Senior Editor, Spin); and Chris Richards (Pop Music Critic, The Washington Post).
The panel of mentors who have signed on to participate is equally impressive. Included are: Monte Lipman (President of Universal Republic Records); Pete Ganbarg (Executive VP/Head of A&R, Atlantic Records); Shawn Holiday (Senior VP of A&R, RCA Records and Sony/ATV Music Publishing); Josh Bailey (Sr. VP of A&R, Word Label Group); Kim Stephens (President, Forward Entertainment and A&R/Capitol Music Group); Allison B. Jones (VP of A&R, Big Machine Label Group); Lisa Ramsey-Perkins (Senior Director of A&R, Sony Music Nashville).
Sponsors include: D’Addario, Disc Makers, Sony Creative Software, The Music Business Registry, CAD Audio, Celebrity Access and Mrs. Fields Cookies.”
Alright, Mrs. Fields!
Follow this link for details about how you put your hat in the ring. The deadline for submitting is April 16th.
Daring dames, First Ladies, riot grrrls, famous Philly females—all are front and center this month as the city celebrates the talents and achievements of awesome women both past and present in honor of Women’s History Month. Here’s a few female-centric happenings local ladies should definitely consider marking down on their calendars.
In conjunction with their current multimedia event Create Chaos!, tonight, Permanent Wave Philly will be hosting a special dance party to raise money for the 10th annual activism, music and arts festival, Ladyfest Philly. Going down June 7-9, each year, the festival honors the artistic, organizational and political work of women, trans, genderqueer, intersex, and queer people with a weekend of workshops, musical performances, discussion groups and other events. If you can’t make it out tonight, no worries—PWP still has plenty of things lined up this month including a feminist photo shoot/live sketch this Saturday and skill share/craft session on March 24. (Fri/8, 9pm. $5-$7. Eris Temple Arts, 602 S. 52nd St.)
The sweet scent of estrogen and creativity will continue to permeate West Philly on Saturday as Vitamin D Productions once again hosts its free all-ages, all-female arts festival showcasing an eclectic group of artists. Using her signature fusion of movement and sound, local physical theater artist, Mira Treatman will be presenting a humorous yet thought-provoking performance piece while the art/music duo, Blown Away will be combining melodic harmonies and projected drawings to create an aural-visual spectacle. Covering the musical portion of evening are New York pop/rock/soul songstress, Lachi; Brooklyn-based poet/rapper, Sam LaRoche and West Philly’s experimental teenage twosome, The Barking Spiders. As always, there will be a deeper message at the core of the event, with this year’s speakers and performers tackling issues relating to abuse and bullying. (Sat/9, 7pm. Free. The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St.)
Though Philly’s hugely popular storytelling competition always seems to a pretty interesting theme each month, this one might be the best yet. Host Katonya Mosely will open the mic to ladies who’ve got something to say and demand to be heard, regaling the audience with real-life tales of female empowerment. If you yourself have an experience you want to share, feel free to throw your name in the hat. Otherwise, just sit back and let some fascinating women entertain you. (Mon/11, 8:30pm. $8-$10. World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St.)
Although typically the best place to learn about a bunch of old affluent white men, this month, the Center is carving out a space for the women who have helped shaped this great nation yet rarely get the credit they deserve in history books. Programming for the exhibit includes a 20-minute interactive show focusing on remarkable women that have called this city home and some of Philly’s “famous female firsts.” Guests can also learn some pretty interesting facts about America’s First Ladies and the role that women played in the Prohibition era. (Daily through March 30. $13-$14. National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St.)