Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chilly Philly

I keep waiting for the global warming everyone talks about, but it never arrives.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
Here's a Phanatic creature caught outside the Seaport Museum along the river. At least Phillies star Jayson Werth had the good sense to announce his departure from the team AFTER this weekend, when the Philly Phantic played Santa Claus at the ballpark. I'd guess that today, after the announcement that Werth is leaving town, the Phanatic, or any Phanatic animal in the city, wouldn't be in the mood for much of anything.

Sunday, November 28, 2010



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

Street Selling

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
What's this? Another shot of Philadelphia entrepreneur Jan Sklaroff on the streets of Center City? The guy is everyplace! (Does he think he's the Philly Phanatic or something?)

Part of the kaleidoscope of Philadelphia.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vive La Ballet

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
Ballet season got underway October 21-24 at the Academy of Music with a triple bill headlined by Bizet's "Carmen"-- the ballet version, with Roland Petit choreography.

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

Philly Phanatic Under Suicide Watch!

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary

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

The Maddest mAD pOET

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
Steve Delia wowed the audience at the big 10/3 Mad Poets Festival.

See "Stray Notes" several posts below this one for a brief write-up of the event.

Schizoid Poetry

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
Droll-looking Janet Spangler changing hats and identities was one of the humorous highlights of the 10/3 Mad Poets festival reading in Media PA.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Classic Phillies Game

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary

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

The Host

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
Here's a shot of Eileen D'Angelo, the able host of October 3rd's mAD pOETS Festival in Media, caught backstage.

More photos of the event are coming up!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Media Arts Festival 10/3

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
Here's a shot of the Media Arts Festival, which I walked through on the way to the Mad Poets Festival October 3rd which featured 50+ of the area's best poets together at one time on one stage etc. Stay tuned. A few photos from the actual event will follow.

Media Train Station

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
This is where I arrived on October 3rd for the big mAD pOETS Festival in Media, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stray Notes on the mAD pOETS Festival


-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

Uniting the City

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary

This is the greatest sports town in America.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Watching the Game

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
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

Quick Report


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


The big Mad Poets Festival is tomorrow in downtown Media, PA. 50+ poets headlined by past Poet Laureate Daniel Hoffmann. I'll be reading for five minutes, scheduled to go on at 2:15. (Event goes from noon to five.) If I can grab a camera from somewhere I'll be snapping photos-- hope to get several for this blog. Price of admission is one nonperishable food item. For more info see

There are two big events in Philly area Sunday: the Eagles, and the Poets!

See ya there!
-Karl Wenclas

The Salesman

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
Entrepreneur Jan Sklaroff caught recently on the streets of Center City hustling for somebody.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mad Poets Festival

I'll be at the Mad Poets Festival this Sunday, October 3, noon-to-5pm at the Media Borough Hall in downtown Media PA. I may even read at it-- don't know for sure at this writing-- but at least I'll be in the audience taking a note or two for this blog, maybe snapping photos. I hope to meet some writers!
(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

Hilary Hahn Sighting

hilary hahn

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

Who Are These Guys?

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
All summer long, strange and goofy-looking creatures have been seen on the streets of Philadelphia. Who are they? Why are they here? How long do they plan to stay?

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.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

City of Independence

Originally uploaded by Philly Literary
PHILADELPHIA is where this crazy nation known as America got its start. Let us not forget that the country was founded by rebels. This was the spot where freedom was birthed. I can begin this narrative, this kaleidoscope of a city, nowhere else.


THIS BLOG is intended to be the hot spot for profiles of the personalities, landmarks, and happenings which make Philadelphia a wonderful city.