Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
SCENES OF SOUTH PHILLY
I was walking down the streets of South Philadelphia one afternoon, taking in the atmosphere of the neighborhood, new ethnicities layered over an Italian base, ancient crammed in rowhouse structures that were around in O. Henry’s day, an O. Henry kind of setting.
I passed a small fenced-in enclosure behind a building outside which stood a middle-aged woman talking to an orange cat within the enclosure. The cat stood straight staring at the woman while the woman was talking: “C’mon Little Red, c’mon Little Red.” The cat stood staring at the woman, not moving forward or back. “C’mon LittlerRed. I have to go to work! C’mon Little Red,” and the orange cat named Little Red stood straight on its four legs and continued staring at the woman as if she were a bizarre curiosity.
Down the street walked a woman followed by a large brown dog not on a leash. I thought, the dog should be on a leash. Many people in South Philly walked dogs who weren’t on leashes. Suddenly the woman and dog halted and literally leaped into a doorway.
I glanced to the side as I passed the building. It was a former storefront that was now a residence. One sees that a lot in South Philly. Through the huge storefront window I saw the woman and her large dog, but also who were sitting in the room watching a small TV. With the window uncurtained, it was if they were on TV. Both men wore wool caps and thick coats. The woman kept her coat on. They must not have any heat, I thought, then continued walking.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Part of the kaleidoscope of Philadelphia.
Monday, November 1, 2010
The work is seldom seen in the U.S. If it were presented more often, the ballet audience would multiply.
"Carmen" is as cool a live production as you'd ever see. Everything about it, beginning with striking red letters on a curtained screen, screams "street." The working class characters in the first scene appear to be proto-punks, all cigarette smoking and attitude. Chief among them: gypsy Carmen, played in this production with ultra-sexiness by long-legged ballerina Riolama Lorenzo. Quickly she attracts elegant stooge Don Jose- the perfectly cast Sergio Torrado. The ballet's high point is at a nightclub, when Carmen and Don Jose dance together at lightning speed.
There were two ballets on the undercard to fill out the program. The first, a stodgy Balanchine piece named "Concerto Barocco," could just as well be shelved. It comes off as a brightly lit studio practice piece, stilted and dead, meeting every preconceived stereotype non-ballet fans have of the art. It's done to music of Bach. I'm sure the work is fine for those already very cultured-- those 0.01% of the population-- but it's no way to attract a broader audience.
Much better was the second lead-in, Matthew Neenan's "Penumbra," featuring two couples and a lone stranger at the end of what seems to be a long evening. The piece was moody and sophisticated-- a perfect set-up for smoky and smoldering "Carmen."
At the conclusion of "Carmen," at the performance I was at, the audience in the balcony was yelling "Bravo! Bravo!"; hooting and whistling. The presentation was worth it.
Monday, October 25, 2010
City authorities are taking no chances regarding the reaction of the Philly "Phanatic" creature to the untimely bouncing of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team out of the championship playoffs.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Tonight! Roy Halladay (Yay!) versus Tim Lincecum (Boo!) as the Phillies square off against the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the National League Championship Series.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
-Richard Moyer's poems about the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team and a boxing match were clear, quick, and punchy.
-Awilda Castro was passionate.
-Janet Mason was funny.
-Lesbian street-poet J. Mace III opened by saying, "I have a foul mouth." A practiced performer, she was very good.
-Mace should've been a tough act to follow. Joe Roarty, while banging a drum, read a zombie poem. The performance was terrific, and not a little mAD. I jotted, "Off the deep end."
-The folk music duo "Silver Wind" were surprisingly good. The lyrics to their song "Indigo Joe" came from a poem by Brian Sammond, who'd read his poetry earlier, not long after I'd got there. While listening to the song I thought that Sammond had to be the best pure poet, as a poet, of anyone there.
-One of the Master of Ceremonies, Emiliano Martin, was wryly funny about a poet on the list who hadn't shown up, as was succeeding Mistress of Ceremonies Tamara Oakman, who kept asking for "Alien Architect" and wondering where he could be. She asked if someone could beam him up please.
-Steve Delia brought down the house with a poem about a lady on a Progressive (Insurance?) TV commercial.
-Amy Small McKinney, having to follow Delia, commented dryly that they always put "a semi-depressed poet after the funny guy." Hilarious.
-Janet Spangler, a character, performed a schizophrenic poem between two characters, the difference between them signified by her putting on and taking off an eccentric-looking cap.
-Michele Belluomini, who I've seen read before, was a contrast to the characters who'd preceded her, in that her words work through their quiet simplicity. When you tone down the performance, the emphasis goes onto the words themselves. This works well in a reading of contrasts, like a baseball pitcher's change-up after a series of fastballs.
-Alien Architect finally showed up at the microphone. Apparently he'd been on the porch, building suspense in the audience. He throws standard white hip-hop fastballs. His reading wasn't bad, though not as good as he thought it was.
-Leonard Gontarek received an impressive reception for what seemed a modest performance-- by then I was watching the time more than the podium because I had a train to catch.
-Kudos to the behind-the-scenes conductor of the poetic orchestra, Eileen D'Angelo, and her able assistants.
Photos from the big event will be up on this blog by early next week-- I hope.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Among all the spots to watch the baseball games, one of the best is outside the Wanamaker ticket office on 16th just south of Market Street. At least, I watched one of the games of the crucial series with the Braves a couple weeks ago which decided the division. I was among an eclectic group of homeless, and guys in suits just got off work, all who shouted on every Phillies hit or made play. This is a sports-mad city, and right now for the town the universe is in harmony, the planets aligned.
Monday, October 4, 2010
The Mad Poets Festival Sunday featured as wide a variety of poetic styles in one place as I've seen. The amount of talent surprised me.
I arrived a bit late, and left early to catch a train back to Philly-- but while I was there the event was fun and fast-moving. Mad Poets Chief Eileen D'Angelo is as good an organizer as I've seen-- she does so unobtrusively and makes it look easy. Poets efficiently enter and exit the "stage," nonappearances are virtually unnoticed-- time strictly enforced by taskmaster Missy Grotz-- the result is that poets are shown at their best, there's not one dull moment, and everyone has a good time.
I scribbled a few notes re the event and the individual poets on my way back, which I'll be posting in a few days, with photos to follow shortly. I looked up from my scribbling just as my train pulled into the University City stop-- revealing very close downtown Philly looking like a painted backdrop-- an angle of the town I'd never seen. I should've gotten off there and snapped a photo for this blog! Oh well.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
There are two big events in Philly area Sunday: the Eagles, and the Poets!
See ya there!
Thursday, September 30, 2010
(NOTE: Festival admission/"ticket" is one nonperishable food item for the City Team Ministries. Presumably the food item will eventually perish when somebody in need eats it!)
Monday, September 20, 2010
I was privileged to see Hilary Hahn in rehearsal at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall in 2008, thanks to an invite from a friend. Hahn is not only the greatest violinist on the planet, she’s the most beautiful. Hilary attended Philly’s famed Curtis Institute of Music. Last week while sitting in Rittenhouse Square I saw Ms. Hahn with entourage walking across the square. I also thought I’d seen her walking down 17th the night before-- though about that I may have been mistaken! The point: You never know who you’ll see in Philadelphia.
Friday, July 30, 2010
I'm told that, wherever they're from, and whoever they may be, they've developed a fascination with the sport of baseball. Understandable, I guess, consideriing the success of the Phillies.