What David Bowie Meant to Philly — and What Philly Meant to David Bowie

“Bowie kids” in front of Sigma Studios on 12th Street near Race during the recording of Young Americans in 1974.

“Bowie kids” in front of Sigma Studios on 12th Street near Race during the recording of Young Americans in 1974.

By 1973, being a “Bowie kid” was an act of individual rebellion complete with its own thriving subcultural support group. The club of trailblazers had already been formed, the glittery dress code had been established and the “outrageousness is next to godliness” ethos was set in stone. Bowie’s 1972 concept album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (and the ensuing U.S. tour and Rolling Stone cover story) had made him an international phenomenon. But he had been recording in England since 1966, and he had been wearing dresses on album covers and publicly declaring his bi- or homosexuality (depending on how the presence of his wife Angie was interpreted) since 1971. Ziggy was simply the most successful packaging of twenty-six-year-old Bowie’s basic themes: alienation, androgyny, other worldliness, production values. And highly theatrical act was the perfect innovation in a rock concert business where demand for showmanship was outpacing supply. Read more »

How to Deal With the Mummers: 4 Steps Inspired by Your Racist Aunt on Facebook

Finnegans New Years Brigade 2016

Finnegans New Year’s Brigade’s Caitlyn Jenner performance on Friday. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

If you believe the Mummers, things will be different next year.

In a press release issued Sunday, parade organizers condemned this year’s antics — including brown face, signs referring to Caitlyn Jenner as a “tranny,” an attack on a gay man and This Unholy Specimen — and outlined an impressive, seemingly sincere plan to make next year a more inclusive event.

Newly minted Mayor Jim Kenney, for one, seems hopeful. “There’s been lots of strides that the Mummers Parade has made over the years, but there is always one dumb thing that happens that really does affect people and offend people,” he said Tuesday. “We have to try to start over, and we’re working on that with the human relations commission and our LGBT affairs leader Nellie Fitzpatrick.” And now there’s discussion of sensitivity training, pre-screening of acts, sanctions and more.

I like Kenney, and I hope he’s right. But at the same time, this is only his fifth day on the job. It’s easy to have hope less than a week into even the most impossible of gigs, to truly believe that a mix of hard work and know-how can bring about change and uncover truth. (I’ve never been mayor, but I have bartended at TGI Friday’s, so I feel pretty qualified to pass on this advice: When your blender shorts out during the middle of the Ultimate Mudslide happy hour that is Philadelphia, Mr. Kenney, just try to remember all of the reasons you don’t want to go to jail. I find writing them on a napkin helps.) Read more »

11 Things You Might Not Know About: Philly’s Public Squares



They’re some of the most revered spaces in the city — the five open public squares William Penn laid out in the 1680s to keep the green in his “greene Countrie Towne.” Today we hoverboard inside them, crave homes adjacent to them, let our kids clamber over their statues and fountains. Here, some facts you might not know about Rittenhouse, Logan, Washington, Franklin and Penn squares, courtesy of James McClelland and Lynn Miller’s new book City in a Park. Read more »

How Millennials Are Ruining the Workforce

Illustration by Jason Raish

Illustration by Jason Raish

As a boomer, I have a special interest in millennials. It’s the same sort of interest I have in car wrecks: I don’t want to see what’s going on, but I can’t look away. Take, for instance, the cover story that Time magazine had a few months back about how millennials are raising their children. I didn’t read the article. I couldn’t, because the very first paragraph stopped me cold. Here it is, reproduced in full:

On a playground in San Francisco, 4-year-old Astral Defiance Hayes takes a stick and writes his name in the sand. His twin brother Defy Aster Hayes whizzes around their father.

The fact is, I don’t need to know anything more about how millennials are parenting than that two of them thought it was a great idea to name their twin boys Astral Defiance and Defy Aster.

I mean: Who does that? Read more »

Three Philly-Area Pups Will Compete in Puppy Bowl XII

From left: Rottweiler Leah; Lab Marley; Kevin

From left: rottweiler Leah from Center City’s Morris Animal Refuge; lab Marley from Souderton’s Salfid Rescue, Inc.; schnauzer Kevin from Marlton’s New Life Animal Refuge.

If Super Bowl Sunday finds you curling up with dog treats instead of chips and dip, chances are your idea of the Big Game is Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl. This year’s production, the 12th, will feature contestants from three local animal shelters: Center City’s Morris Animal Refuge, Marlton’s New Life Animal Rescue, and Salfid Rescue, Inc., in Souderton. Prepare to lose your heart: Read more »

RJD2’s New Record Oozes “Sound of Philly” Soul

Photography by Nick Fancher

Photography by Nick Fancher

RJD2, the musician perhaps best-known for composing the Mad Men theme music, has a new album coming out, and it’s filled with Philly sounds.

Check out his new single, “Peace of What,” featuring Jordan Brown and see if you don’t get a Gamble and Huff vibe off it.

It’s from his next album, Dame Fortune, available in March — and was recorded, in part, during the musician’s time living in Philly. Read more »

Paradigm Gallery to Host Streets Dept Birthday Show

"Amberella" | Conrad Benner

Work by Amberella | Photo by Conrad Benner

This months marks the fifth anniversary of Conrad Benner’s terrific photo bog, Streets Dept, which he’s used to document and celebrate Philadelphia’s street art. Benner is celebrating the anniversary with a show at Paradigm Gallery, where he will be featuring the work of 10 of his favorite artists.

Wednesday, Benner announced who those artists will be: NosegoKid HazoOld BroadsIshknitsJoe BoruchowBinesHarlequinadeCERAAmberella, and NDA. Read more »

Creed Director Talks “Jawn”

creed-movie-soundtrack

The big news in Variety today is that Creed star Sylvester Stallone is promising there will be a sequel — so, it seems likely that Philly’s going to have another shot at cinematic glory.

As a sidebar to that story, though, the magazine has an interview with director Ryan Coogler, who talks about how Philly shaped the movie, and how the Philly slang term “jawn” made its way into the movie.

Before he was a movie director, it seems, Coogler was a bright student athlete — and took a recruiting trip to Penn. His experiences ended up being reflected in the movie.

“When I was getting recruited for high school, one of the schools that I took a recruiting visit to was the University of Pennsylvania, UPENN,” he told Variety. “So Philly was one of the first places I had been to by myself, on my own, as a young adult. And I’ll never forget how much of a culture shock it was. I really liked it, but it was so much different from California in so many ways.

“I was around a lot of the young black folks in Philly and meeting some of the girls. My reaction to them was very similar to Adonis’ reaction when he first meets Bianca. You’re meeting these girls who were very sure of themselves, very direct. They kind of meet you head-on, and if you’re not coming right, they’ll run you right over to get to where they’re going. All those things kind of had an effect on me.”

As for jawn….

“It’s J-A-W-N. What’s crazy was, we had a lot of local crew and our special effects guy, he was a Philly dude and his name was Squares. And he had a bunch of Philadelphia-centric tattoos but his coolest tattoo was a compass. But instead of north, south, east, west it had J-A-W-N.”

We’d kill to see that tattoo — if anybody has a picture of it (or knows how to get in touch with Squares) let us know.

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