6 ABC’s 90th Thanksgiving Day Parade

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning on Thanksgiving Day and grown adults are stepping into white and neon orange colored jump suits. Some wear wild bright blue wigs and others have on red and white striped candy cane head gear. I have just signed in as an Assembly Crew Member when I’m whisked away in the back of a moving van headed for 20th and JFK.

When I arrive on the scene, giant balloons of Horton, Tom the Turkey and Garfield are being brought to life with helium. Turning to my right I can see a replica of Disney’s Magic Kingdom on wheels and a great many clowns riding around on motor scooters.

I’m responsible for distributing banners to boy scouts and placing them in their proper starting locations. The parade is scheduled to start at 8:15 a.m. and there is much to be done.

When sunlight begins to creep between the skyscrapers, Good Morning America host Sam Champion arrives with a camera crew. Two dozen screaming children, mothers, fathers, marching band members, service men and women and, did I mention, clowns crowd around the broadcasters for their five minutes of fame.

Everything is ordered and timed to perfection from Sheila E’s “Music is Our Language” float (equipped with symbols and conga drum), to Mayor Nutter’s carriage. As soon as the police lead motorcycles roar off the corner, I make my way to the Art Museum to gain a better vantage point.

On the way I snap photos of the Kermit Balloon, My Little Pony and Twinkles the Snowman. A great many people are gathered by the steps of the Art Museum.

This is ABC Action News’s 90th parade and the last for beloved news reporter Dave Roberts. Signs expressing gratitude towards and wishing the weather man a happy retirement were sprinkled throughout the bleachers.

I approached Channel 6 intern Ms. Ashley Gregg in front of the Rocky statue and asked her about the group of child performers she was escorting. She informed me that they were the Walnut Theatre’s cast of Oliver and that many have had legitimate acting rolls on programs such as Law & Order SVU. When it was time for the kids to take center stage they stole the show exuding much energy and showmanship.

The holiday shopping season was officially launched by the grand finale—the appearance of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. The children in the crowd erupted at the sight of the rosy cheeked, pot bellied, patron saint of children (among other things) who waved and encouraged all in attendance to “be good for goodness sake.”

You can contact Jamey Hindorff at jameyhindorff@gmail.com

6 ABC’s 90th Thanksgiving Day Parade

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning on Thanksgiving Day and grown adults are stepping into white and neon orange colored jump suits. Some wear wild bright blue wigs and others have on red and white striped candy cane head gear. I have just signed in as an Assembly Crew Member when I’m whisked away in the back of a moving van headed for 20th and JFK.

When I arrive on the scene, giant balloons of Horton, Tom the Turkey and Garfield are being brought to life with helium. Turning to my right I can see a replica of Disney’s Magic Kingdomon wheels and a great many clowns riding around on motor scooters.

I’m responsible for distributing banners to boy scoutsand placing them in their proper starting locations. The parade is scheduled to start at 8:15 a.m. and there is much to be done.

When sunlight begins to creep between the skyscrapers, Good Morning America host Sam Championarrives with a camera crew. Two dozen screaming children, mothers, fathers, marching band members, service men and women and, did I mention, clowns crowd around the broadcasters for their five minutes of fame.

Everything is ordered and timed to perfection from Sheila E’s “Music is Our Language” float (equipped with symbols and conga drum), to Mayor Nutter’s carriage. As soon as the police lead motorcycles roar off the corner, I make my way to the Art Museumto gain a better vantage point.

On the way I snap photos of the Kermit Balloon, My Little Ponyand Twinkles the Snowman. A great many people are gathered by the steps of the Art Museum.

This is ABC Action News’s 90th parade and the last for beloved news reporter Dave Roberts. Signs expressing gratitude towards and wishing the weather man a happy retirement were sprinkled throughout the bleachers.

I approached Channel 6 intern Ms. Ashley Gregg in front of the Rocky statue and asked her about the group of child performers she was escorting. She informed me that they were the Walnut Theatre’s cast of Oliver and that many have had legitimate acting rolls on programs such as Law & Order SVU. When it was time for the kids to take center stage they stole the show exuding much energy and showmanship.

The holiday shopping season was officially launched by the grand finale

Temple University's The Reel Theater

So, it’s a Friday night at Temple University. You’re bored and a little broke. Plus, you don’t really feel like spending the entire night watching bad TV and surfing the internet. What should you do?

Well, go to the Reel Theaterof course.

Located inside of the Howard Gittis Student Center, the theater specializes in running late run films (films that have come and gone in theaters, but are not yet on DVD/Blu-Ray).

The tickets are more affordable than any other movie theater I’ve ever seen, with tickets for students costing $2 and tickets for non-students costing $4. The concessions all fall between $1 and $3, meaning that this would probably be a $5 event.

The films that The Reel receives are all quality as well. This semester alone it has shown Star Trek, Public Enemies, Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince, District 9 and The Time Traveler’s Wife. The theater doesn’t yet have a schedule for next semester, but one could assume that it would be the more popular films of this semester.

The show times are fairly consistent, with all showings on Monday through Wednesday being at 7:30 p.m. Thursday’s have a 7:30 p.m. and a 10:30 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays have an additional showing, for a 4:30 p.m., 7:30p.m. and 10:30 p.m. schedule. Sunday’s then cut the final showing to keep a 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. set of show times.

This is one of Temple University’s better things to get students out of their residence halls, so you should definitely go to The Reel at some point during your time on or around campus.

You can contact Chris Banks at entertainment@campusphilly.org

Precious Showing at BMFI

On its first night at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire , left its audiences speechless. The previews portray a heavy black girl in a rough neighborhood in what appears to be an inspirational, potentially tear-jerking film. It’s a heck of a lot heavier than that.

What Philly-born director Lee Daniels has created is a film that promises to have audiences reeling from the shock, outrage and disgust the novel-based story produces. Set in Harlem in 1987, Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) sits in the back of a noisy classroom daydreaming while her second child, the second by her own father, swells through her tee shirt.

The story takes off when the principal, suspecting the pregnancy, sends Precious to an alternative school. The audience is then brought to a dimly lit apartment, the glow of a television illuminating the figure of Precious’ pit bull of a mother, Mary, played by bawdy BETcomedian Mo’Nique. Precious prepares a greasy, odious dinner while her mom harasses her from the living room, hurling insults and objects alike at her daughter.

Within minutes of the film’s opening, the audience has already encountered scenes of abuse alongside Precious’ dream sequences wherein she is a glamorous, beautiful star, adored by the masses. This contrast runs throughout the film and, with time, becomes increasingly heartbreaking as her situation grows from bad to worse to unthinkable.

Precious is based on the novel Pushby Sapphire, noted for its use of stream of consciousness and phonetic spelling. Precious is illiterate, a central point in the story, and this narrative style is reflected in the misspelled words in the film’s opening credits.

Precious finds her pseudo-family in attending the alternative school as her strong-willed teacher Blue Rain, sensitively played by Paula Patton, pushes her and the other students to turn to education as a way out of their crumby situations. Though Ms. Rain doesn’t have all of the answers, she offers Precious’ relentless encouragement, serving as the 16-year-old’s only source of hope.

Precious, which Daniels produced with the help of Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, also features surprisingly perfect performances by Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey.

These stunning characters are captured within one of the most unsettling films to be released this year which has already won great praise at the Sundance and Cannesfilm festivals. Indeed, it seems fairly certain that the likes of Sidibe, Mo’Nique and Daniels will be making an appearance at the Oscars.

A film that will weigh heavily on your mind for hours after the credits roll, Preciousis not for the faint of heart, but is a story that all should try to witness.

For more information on the film’s origins and Daniels’ thoughts on casting and inspiration, check out Lynn Herschberg’s New York Times Magazine article.

Visit the film’s official website for more information on where Preciousis being shown.

You can contact Samantha Ronan at artsculture@campusphilly.org

AFI & Gallows @ Electric Factory

For Fans Of:Tiger Army, Alkaline Trio, Cancer Bats

Download This Now:“Torch Song” (AFI), “Orchestra of Wolves” (Gallows)

Commanding a staying power in the music industry for nearly two decades is incredible. Being able to stay relevant in that ever-changing, continuously commercialized industry is just pure swagger.

AFI (A Fire Inside, in case you were wondering) brought their signature swag to the Electric Factory (421 N. 7th St.) on Nov. 12 while English punk rock band Gallowstagged along for the ride.

Perhaps AFI was thinking of all those fans that have been with them since day one when they accepted Gallows bid for this tour. The band circa The Art of Drowningera could have easily been the influence for Gallows’ raw, in your face style.

If you haven’t heard by now, vocalist Frank Carter is a bit of a nut, in the absolutely craziest and best way possible. After an unusually meek opening with “London is the Reason” from their latest album, Grey Britain, Gallows gave their fans what they wanted—they took it to the next level.

I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone when the man who got tattooed on stage during a show a few years back ditched his perfect, little mic stand center stage and took to the floor to play in the middle of the mosh pit he orchestrated.

There is no doubt that Gallows puts on one hell of a show and they would probably rage against anyone labeling them as entertainers, but they are!

Aside from beautifully arranged songs that would burn your eyes out (if notes could simply do such a thing) and disgustingly good talent from the rest of the band (guitarists Laurent Barnard and Steph Carter, Stuart Gili-Ross on bass and Lee Barratt on drums), the things that came out of Frank Carter’s mouth would shock you to your core if you didn’t die laughing first.

Every Gallows show is different and the one in Philly could definitely be filed under “you had to be there.” But for those who weren’t, imagine the raunchy hilarity of closing tune “Orchestra of Wolves” in conversation and you’ve got the banter for the night.

Unfortunately, Carter’s acid tongue wasn’t enough to save his health and due to illness and a major upcoming tour abroad, Gallows had to drop off of the last couple of shows on the AFI tour.

All in all, Gallows was a great band to open for AFI. Carter’s mid-floor performance spot may have been frustrating for those hidden by the arms of the crowd around them, but artistically, the decision was genius.

The day before, AFI did a signing at Main Street Music (4444 Main St.) for 100+ fans who braved the rain and cold and bought Crash Love at the Manayunk record store; this Electric Factory show was to be the piece de resistance.

AFI filtered onto the stage with “Torch Song,” the first track from their fall release, Crash Love. What has always been great about this band is their ability to insight a riot of the intellect. Numerous songs contain backing tracks of crowd vocals rip-roaring and organized to ignite the fire that comes with being united by a common purpose (“Through our bleeding we are one” anyone?) Not as thematic as previous first tracks, “Miseria Cantare” or “Prelude 12/21,” “Torch Song” still contains that anticipation factor of the formers that hits a fever pitch with guitarist Jade Puget’s chords.

After the proverbial smoke cleared from that one, I noticed how bizarrely contained singer Davey Havock was inside his gold suit. It was almost as if all his usual passion was trying to break free from under this corporate uniform, however glittery. Maybe we’re all missing some metaphor here, but honestly, it was painful to watch. I let out a huge sigh once the jacket came off.

But you know what they say: wardrobes come and go but set lists are forever.

While I experienced personal satisfaction over the fact that AFI played all the songs I wanted to hear from Crash Love (“Torch Song,” “Beautiful Thieves,” “End Transmission”), I was blown away by the fact that the band played more songs from their 2003 release Sing the Sorrow then the new disc. “Ok, I Feel Better Now,” a new song, was even given the boot for “The Missing Frame,” a track from 2006’s Decemberunderground(so said the set list).

Choosing to play “Death of Seasons,” “Dancing Through Sunday” and the mellow “Leaving Song Part I” as part of the Sorrowdomination were good decisions, and to their credit, the band did eventually take it back to the 90s with “Triple Zero” and “6 to 8.” But playing those songs in place of classic fan favorites like “Days of the Phoenix” or “God Called in Sick Today” was, in a word, disappointing. However, one set choice surprised everyone when Havok intro-ed a song with, “This is from 1986. If you know this, I love you,” and the tune turned out to be D.C. punk band Dag Nasty’s “Values Here.” Thank God “Silver and Cold” made the finale because I’m convinced there would have been a riot of a different kind if that song was simply omitted from the live show (for what reason I couldn’t even fathom).

Aesthetics and fan-of-the-old-school bias aside, very few bands out today can match the energy and heart that AFI brings to the stage. Havok’s unique range and trademark “Oh!” make him an icon and Puget’s string work is to die for. These are the things you cling to while watching your favorite punk band deliver an alternative rock performance, and kill it.

In the end, I just wish AFI had given more support to the album they were touring in support of so that I would be fully on the bandwagon with Crash Loveinstead of just running pace with the coach with one hand tethered. However, I do have the intro of “Torch Song” as my ringtone; I can see myself hoping aboard sooner rather than later.

You can contact Cara Donaldson at cara@campusphilly.org

Punk Rock Flea Market

Need to do some last minute holiday shopping before heading home? Don’t have that much cash? Then you should probably hit up the Punk Rock Flea Marketat the Starlight Ballroom on Dec. 19 and 20.

The event, which has been running several times a year, is set up by R5 Productions, the same group that puts on all those great shows all over the city.

For this time of year, the flea market is having two shows instead of one, with not a single repeat vendor on the second date. So if you feel so inclined, you can go twice and find completely different things each day.

There are two types of tables at each date. The first being personal tables, which are simply people selling their things to other people. The second type would be for businesses. These are official groups that are selling merchandise as a part of a business.

The R5 website states, “Do not let the ‘name of the event’ lead you to believe that it’s just punk records, clothes etc. – it’s a full-on flea market with everything from furniture to laptops /computers , stereo equipment to handmade apparel and vegan treats, information from various nonprofit groups, book stores, artists selling their work, bicycles, skateboards and whatever else they can fit onto the ballroom floor at the Starlight Ballroom.”

All the proceeds from this event will go to supporting R5 shows at the First Unitarian Church. So go out, do your holiday shopping and pick up some cool stuff along the way.

You can contact Chris Banks at entertainment@campusphilly.org

Waiting for Godot

The first thing I learned at the Amaryllis Theatre Company’s production of Waiting for Godot: it’s GOD-oh. From there my brain didn’t take a break until the actors took their bows two hours later.

With a genius blend of humor and sadness, Samuel Beckett’s puzzling play presents the audience with two friends, Estragon and Vladimir, who spend the duration waiting for their friend Godot to arrive. While attending his arrival the two try to pass the time in conversation but it soon becomes clear that memory lapse, time inconsistencies and involved wordplay make this story much denser than its simple surface.

In both acts, the lonely duo are joined by Pozzo and Lucky, a self-important master and his pitiable servant, whose violent relationship is first questioned and then mocked by the two friends. Their entrance into the story adds an even more bewildering sense of the unreal—are these people real? What the heck is Beckett telling us?

Indeed, it does not take long to realize that the playwright aims to communicate a message, but which sort has been grappled over in English classrooms and theatre lobbies alike for decades. The Amaryllis Company includes some light background information in the program, addressing the common assumption that Godot means God; however, Beckett himself asserted, “If by Godot I had meant God, I would have said God, not Godot.”

Fortunately, the company does not force a single interpretation on the audience, leaving you to muse over what could possibly be meant by the unusual characters, their strange conversations, their desperation and Godot’s disappointing absence. Waiting for Godot hardly makes for a light afternoon at the theater but the frustration and the ambiguity is kind of fun at the same time. You’ll at least have something to talk about on the ride home.

The small cast is a strong team and the intimate setting at the Playground at the Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom St.) makes for a powerful, dramatic experience. The two leads, Buck Schirner (Estragon) and Michael Toner (Vladimir), work through dialogue masterfully, building up their relationship’s complexity. Their repeated exchange—“Let’s go.” “We can’t.” “Why not?” “We’re waiting for Godot.”—becomes more heartbreaking each time until the play’s opening line—“Nothing to be done.”—rings entirely true.

Their counterparts bear an equally powerful presence onstage, Lynn Manning (Pozzo) demonstrating his dramatic range and David Stranger (Lucky) offering full-bodied character commitment that makes his performance, especially toward the end of Act I, movingly memorable.

The Amaryllis Theatre Company has made its mark in Philadelphia for its commitment to accessibility, staging plays translated into American Sign Language and encouraging disabled artists across the country to participate in the dramatic process. With a collaborative mix of actors with and without disabilities, the company’s productions’ successes are a testament to the strength lodged throughout the community.

This challenging play will be at The Playground at the Adrienne until Nov. 22.

Tickets are available online for $10, making this incredible production also very affordable.

You can contact Samantha Ronan at artsculture@campusphilly.org

Choice Bowling Lanes in Philadelphia

Love it or hate it, bowling is the ultimate activity to take part in when there’s absolutely nothing else left to do.

It’s not physically demanding and it really doesn’t matter if you do poorly. Plus, bowling food is the best (and kind of the worst) food there is.

While Philadelphia isn’t exactly renown for it’s bowling, there are a few choices places around town to knock down those pins. These are just three of the better lanes in town, but there’s definitely quite a few if you look hard enough.

Lucky Strike

Perhaps the most well known and definitely the easiest to get to in the city, Lucky Strikeis the foremost bowling alley. This creates a couple of pros and cons for this place. It’s definitely one of the nicest and hippest places to bowl in Philly, but because of that it’s sure to be the more crowded and costly. Regardless, if you feel up to it Lucky Strike is probably the best bowling alley you’ll ever be in.

Strikes Bowling Lounge

Strikesis like Lucky Strike-light. It’s still ridiculously nice, but without the raised prices and the huge crowds. For less than $10 (and sometimes less than $5) you can bowl a round. There is also student discounts, which is always a plus. The restaurant is a little pricey, but who cares when you can bowl for that little.

North Bowl

Similar to Strikes, North Bowl is well kept, really nice and it’s fairly uncrowded most of the time. North Bowlis also in the heart of Old City, which is quite easy to get to.

So if you aren’t doing anything more important, grab a few of your friends and hit the lanes.

You can contact Chris Banks at entertainment@campusphilly.org

Lending a Hand with Lambda Theta Phi

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many of us are having visions of stuffing, cranberry sauce and big meaty turkey legs. As the leaves start turning and the temperature drops college students grow giddy in anticipation of a few days off and a hot home cooked meal with family.

Such is not the case for everyone, however, and the brothers of Temple’s Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity are hoping to raise awareness of this fact on Saturday. Following their motto “Chivalry Over Self,” these young men have teamed up with Our Brother’s Place, a men’s homeless shelter, to collect clothes for their fellow Philadelphians as the weather gets chillier.

Our Brother’s Place director Tony Medwid provided bins for clothing collection on Temple’s campus and with the help of their sister organization Lambda Theta Alpha they have slowly been making headway in their efforts.

As Lambda Theta Phi brother Christopher Brown points out, “We pass homeless people on the street everyday and a lot of times many of us just ignore them or don’t even acknowledge them as [people]. I want to give them a day they can feel special about, where it is truly all about them.”

The brothers’ efforts will come to fruition this Saturday, Nov. 21, when they will be distributing clothing and food at Love Park. Starting at 1 p.m., they will be handing out their collected items and will continue to welcome donations, so if you have any clothes you are willing to contribute or some food items to offer, make your way down to Center City and help these students make Thanksgiving a little warmer for the less fortunate.

At a time of year when we are told to count our blessings, Brown recognizes his fraternity’s upcoming day of service as a great way to reevaluate what is important: “We have all these luxuries such as heat [and] food whenever we want [them], an abundance of clothes and we take it for granted. Reaching out and helping people in need puts everything back into perspective and we realize how blessed we truly are.”

If you would like to lend Brown and his brothers a hand this Thanksgiving season, keep an eye out on Temple’s campus for Our Brother’s House collection bins or swing by Love Park on Saturday at 1 p.m. to drop off your donation. Your effort will not go unappreciated.

You can contact Samantha Ronan at artsculture@campusphilly.org

A Brand New Weekend

For Fans Of:Bayside, The Movielife, Manchester Orchestra

Download This Now:“Burning Brides” (Brand New), “Stuck Pig” (Glassjaw), “In Exile” (Thrice), “Orbiter” (Crime in Stereo)

For the past decade or so Long Island, New York has been a flourishing community of various forms of punk rock. Among this elite group is Brand New and Crime in Stereo, both of whom performed at The Electric Factory on November 14th and 15th. The concert on the 14th also included Irvine California’s Thrice, and the 15th had none other than Long Island’s Glassjaw.

When asked about their relationship with Philly, Crime in Stereo’s guitarist Alex Dunne said “We have played Philly so much recently. We played the ministry with Paint it Black for their record release a couple of months ago, then in august we played the church with Four Year Strong. I was at the last Kid Dynamite show ever, and I seriously think there were more people at that Four Year Strong show. Then we played a month later in early October with Strike Anywhere, and now we are back here at the Electric Factory with Thrice and Brand New and Glassjaw, so we’re all over Philly.”

For these shows Crime in Stereo toned down their hardcore stylings to fit the bill more. Rather than playing their faster songs, the groups set list comprised of the more mellow songs scene on their more recent records. These included “…But You Are Vast” and “Orbiter.” In my opinion the band did extremely well, but Alex pointed out “ I’m sure that there are kids tonight that are here to see us. But when we play Philly there’s maybe 300 kids at the show. There’s 3000 kids here tonight. So even if, say however many kids come out, they’re standing in a sea of 3000 people.”

Next up on the first night was the only non-Long Island group on the bill, Irvine California’s Thrice. The group has gone through somewhat of a transformation recently, moving away from their hardcore/metal roots into a more avant garde, experimental style of music. Their set list included a bunch of stuff from their new record Beggars, including “In Exile,” “All the World is Mad” and “The Weight.” The highlight of their set however was their cover of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter.” Released only as a bonus track from Beggars, this cover has turned into one of their most interesting songs and one of their most exciting live moments.

Dunne had nothing but good things to say about the band, “honestly, they’re the nicest guys. Like, scary nice. They’re the coolest, nicest most down to earth guys who also totally came up in the hardcore scene.”

Brand New opened their set with the instrumental track “Welcome to Bangkok,” then proceeded to play the majority of Daisy and 2006’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. They did play a few of their older songs, including “Seventy Times Seven” and “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t.” The highlight of their set was probably “Burning Brides” from Daisy. Seeing this song performed live will all the intensity it deserves is just a ridiculous experience. They closed their set with “Play Crack the Sky” from Deja Intendu.

Aside from some very key differences, the second night was very similar. Crime in Stereo had another awesome set, which makes me anticipate their new record (entitled I Was Trying to Describe You To Someone) even more than I already had.

Instead of Thrice this time, Long Island based band Glassjaw took the stage as the second act. For those unaware, Glassjaw has had quite an interesting history. Existing since roughly 1993, the band released their most recent record, entitled Worship & Tribute in 2002. After that the group took a hiatus, allowing singer Daryl Palumbo to work on his Power Pop band Head Automatica. In 2008 the group has reformed and hinted at a new album, although no “official” information has been released.

Their set was interesting to say the least. Sonically it was phenominal. I had never seen Glassjaw before and they sounded as good as they possibly could. What caught me off guard and dissapointed me was how tame they were. Admittedly, it’s hard to be “intense” at The Electric Factory, but I had always heard how Glassjaw put on extreme shows. They played all their great songs throughout their set, including “Tip Your Bartender,” “Mu Empire” and “Ape Dos Mil.” Let’s hope this group continues to exist in the future, and with some luck that new album might actually come to fruition.

After Glassjaw, Brand New once again came onstage, opening with “Welcome to Bangkok.” Their set was similar to the previous night, with only some minor changes. Instead of playing “Seventy Times Seven” they played “The Shower Scene.” Even with minor changes the set was just as entertaining the second time around. They once again closed with “Play Crack the Sky.” There wasn’t any encore either night, but to be fair, there really didn’t need to be. You should definitely see any of these four bands when they come around again.

For the full interview with Alex Dunne of Crime in Stereo click here

You can contact Chris Banks at entertainment@campusphilly.org