Notes on Words

for Writers, Readers, Logophiles and Logorrhetics

A new venue — October 31, 2013

A new venue

Gentle readers,

PaperClips215 is a new portal for info on Philly’s creative culture. It looks like for now I’m their main theater guy, and am going to be publishing there once/wk, directing people to the best local shows. This is important, because many of these amazing shows are under-financed, under-publicized, and under the radar.

I’m focusing on experimental and cheap. The gems you otherwise won’t hear about. The pay-what-you-can weird shit you’ll brag to your friends about and they’ll moan about how they would see more theater if they knew it could do THAT. Like a choose-your-own-adventure dance in the basement of a power plant in Old City. Or devised theater cabaret about genocide. Or a play about crystal meth play performed in someone’s living room.

For me, it’s nice to have Paperclips turn up around the same time that Art Attack vanished. That venue has closed down, unfortunately. But writing for Phindie and Paperclips is so much fun because they’re all such scrappy chaps. Even if they don’t pay me.

Check out my first post for info on what to do with your weekend.



PS: Also, going along with the theme of new venues, a number of articles have popped up about the new FringeArts space – and more specifically, their $60 tickets. Most writers contribute to the moaning (which is valid enough) or remain neutral, but Amy Freeman has written a thought-provoking and fact-filled op-ed for the USA Herald. She even offers a solution, mad as that may sound.

PPS: Help me out. I want to represent the BEST and WEIRDEST of Philly’s underground experimental performance scene. If you hear about anything really awesome you think I might not catch wind of for any reason, let me know. I need to be in all the loops. There are so many loops in this city that just when you think you’re in the loop you find another smaller loop somewhere.

This weekend in Philly — October 10, 2013

This weekend in Philly

Deeply suspicious
In the dark?

I’ll be in Atlanta this weekend, but if you’re in Illy you should have plenty to do.

FIRST OF ALL, for the sophisticated reader, there is Regency & Revelry, the Lantern Theater Company’s Jane Austen festival, a celebration of the author, her world, and Pride and Prejudice‘s bicentennial. Attractions include tea and dance lessons, book clubs, panels by local experts (who knew there were so many?), and a charming, infinitely watchable, three-hour-long adaptation of Emma. If I were in town, I’d be dragging my girlfriend to the tea thing. Check out my preview on Phindie:

SECONDLY, if you haven’t seen Do Not Push, you should consider it. It’s a constantly-engaging clown/slapstick show, Vladimir and Estragon without like all the sad and stuff. Consistently inventive and surprising for the 50 minutes it runs at Plays and Players upstairs theater. My full review:

THIRDLY, if you don’t like any of that, I can’t help you. Go out for brunch. I’ll be in Atlanta enjoy the last of the 75-degree weather. Have fun in the rain.

70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV — October 7, 2013

70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV

By the time the federal government shutdown was made official, most people already knew it was going to happen. I was dreading it – it meant that 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV, which I was working on with Philly’s outrageously well-known Mural Arts Program, wouldn’t be able to happen.

A 900-person meal featuring food designed by Philly’s top chef Marc Vetri, it was to be the 34th in a series of massive, all-inclusive, community-oriented dining experiences formulated by Paris-based artists Lucy + Jorge Orta; the coming-together of so many people, and the discussion focusing on specific issues important to Philadelphia’s community, is a work of art in and of itself. The plates and the table runner were designed specifically for this event, and everyone who sat at the table was to be part of a piece of visual and performative art. But it was meant to be set at Philly’s historic Independence Hall National Park – a manicured lawn spanning more than two blocks in front of Independence Hall, and also a federal park.

Luckily, at very much the last minute, a relocation was green-lighted: to the Thomas Paine Plaza at the Municipal Services Building overlooking City Hall. Few Philadelphians know the name of the space, but everyone knows the space, with its oversized statue of Frank Rizzo tripping down the stairs, and its even more memorable (and massive) Monopoly hat and wheelbarrow, Sorry pieces, toppling dominos, and bingo tokens scattered about. An odd space clustered somewhat fecklessly with public art gone to rust (beside the graffitied game pieces and Rizzo, there’s also an oddly-proportioned Ben Franklin at a Gutenberg press, as well as the blubbery Covenant of the People), it’s at least as eye-catching and Philly-centric as Love Park across the street, if less famous and well-loved.

Honestly, the Thomas Paine Plaza is the kind of space I adore: I have no idea how it was every green-lighted, it’s bizarrely accessible and yet not. It also makes for a pretty fantastic setting for a dinner on a sunny day:

The game pieces signify that Philly works hard, plays hard.
Dude named Michael brought me up in the scissor lift for a grand perspective.

My role in the project was to coordinate RSVPs and oversee recruitment and training of the 130 volunteers needed to make things run smoothly. All told, a successful event. Everyone seemed pretty pleased, and because of the considerable amount of support I had in that role, the volunteers were well-oriented and knew what they were doing.

Volunteers hard at work delivering bread
The tables while they were still partially empty

The tables took some time to fill up. They never did, not completely. Though every seat was RSVPed for, some didn’t show.

During the entire setup, these dudes were watching one-another fall off their skateboards and cheering.
Loved it.

Which was cool, because that meant that we got to invite the general public in – people who otherwise  would never have heard about the event, despite Mural Arts’ publicizing it pretty broadly, or may never have thought of themselves as the kinds of people who would sign up for it.

The goal was to have all types sitting together at the same table.
Those are volunteers, in the aprons.

Volunteers, too, all got to take places at the table and enjoy the beautiful food.

The beautiful food
was all made from heirloom vegetables and fruits.

And some people who wanted a more intimate dining experience could have it.

Rocking the end of the table.
Like these guys.

When the tables filled up, they made for gorgeous images.

Check out the gorgeous table runner, designed and produced in Paris.

In some cases, we were very successful:

And people seemed to really talk about the issues: heirloom fruits and vegetables, whether they are important, and how to save them from extinction.
People seemed to really talk about the issues: heirloom fruits and vegetables, whether they are important, and how to save them from extinction.

Then everyone went home, and City Hall presided over the breakdown:

Who can tell me what that building is in the background, with the pink lights?
Always brightly lit.

Coolest project I’ve worked on in a while. My bosses were talented and dedicated, my volunteers, particularly those from the staff at Mural Arts, were devoted, creative and straightforward about performing their tasks. Our partners were wonderful to work with. And as much as The Meal would have been gorgeous at Independence Mall, the gritty inner city setting, not to mention the last-minute scramble, added an extra layer of meaning which I would have been absent otherwise. After all, as a space that’s normally clustered with Philly’s homeless community, it was the site of a public memorial for homeless citizens last winter, and in 2011 was the site of a minor scuffle between police and Occupy Philadelphia.

Also, my girlfriend came in at the last minute and worked for nearly twenty hours on the project as a sort of Chief Volunteer, making mine and a lot of other people’s jobs a hell of a lot easier. So go her.

Lexiwrongicon — October 3, 2013


Did you know that enervate means “to weaken”?

I thought it meant “to strengthen” – I’ve been using it the wrong way all this time.

Oh, mendacious memory! These fallacious confidences beguile me at every turn.



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Notes on Words

for Writers, Readers, Logophiles and Logorrhetics