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.