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Friday, August 14, 2015

ICON City Beat August 2015

                                                    ICON Magazine City Beat August 2015

   A visit by the Queen of England or an after death visitation by John Lennon would not rival the September visit of Pope Francis. SEPTA’s railway, bus and trolley routes will be altered, and Mayor Nutter has warned Philadelphians to “be prepared to walk long distances.” This might be a good time to get out of town. The prospect of 1.5 million visitors crammed behind a partial fence in Center City and the Parkway has nightmare potential. Francis is not a pope of “fences” and radical public transportation cutbacks that would mostly affect the poor.  He’s a “let’s rein the people in” pope, not a “shut’em out” ruler. Proof of this is his willingness to criticize the capitalist system of western democracies and point a not so subtle finger at the Koch Brothers, Goldman and Sachs and all the powerful financial brokers and institutions that only want to fatten the pockets of the very rich.  So: Tear down this wall, Mr. Nutter.  
 When we went to the premier of Magic Mike XXL at the Prince Theater we noticed a lineup of ushers and glum-looking men in suits. The suits were arranged widthwise across the floor like a chorus line of border guards. We’ve never seen a lineup of suited security at The Ritz, and we’ve certainly never had a pre-movie pat down and a “head to toe” sweep with a counter-terrorism radar brush. Were they checking for weapons, bombs or tubes of nitroglycerin? The suits went about their job with the unfeeling precision of TSA agents. Additional security lined many of the aisles inside the auditorium. During the movie (about a tribe of overbuilt beefy male strippers who talk like Rocky Balboa), a suit aimed a flashlight over a certain segment of the audience. Was something amiss? Did they find that nitroglycerin, or was he checking on potential cell phone violators filming the Warner Brothers production with an iPhone? Do audiences of mainly well behaved young women really need this kind of security?  What has happened to the venerable Prince? Has it turned into a frog? Or has it, unbeknownst to us, merged with Philadelphia International Airport?
 The Plastic Club is a Paris salon in the heart of Philadelphia.  Founded in 1897 as an all woman’s arts club (men were admitted in 1991), early club members included Violet Oakley, Cecilia Beaux and Elizabeth Shippen Green. The word ‘plastic’ refers not to that infamous line in The Graduate, but to unfinished art, though all the pieces on the wall at PC’s July The Models as Artists Show seemed complete to us. The marathon event transformed a dull Sunday into a four hour art and fantasy fest complete with belly, fan and hoola hoop dancing plus a poetry reading that touched on the meaning of Father’s Day. In this age of minimalist art events where less is considered more (“Care for a pretzel stick with that thimbleful of chardonnay?”), the Plastic Club stands shoulders above its (often) less than generous competitors. Some of the winners in the Models Show were: First Prize, Jenn Warpole; Second, Veronica Meekins; Third, Maria Singer, and Honorable Mentions Rachel Glidden, Nellie Carnes and Anna Romaniuk. On Sunday, August 23, PC will host its Annual Summer Dinner; check out the Website at 
We never understood the attraction of Philly Jesus even when he was everyone’s favorite darling. When Philly Jesus said he used to love gays but now he’s not so sure, we were not surprised. Heroin addicts, ex or current, are often opportunists and go whichever way the wind blows. When Mayor Nutter posed with Philly Jesus for the local paparazzi we saw this as a further dumbing down of Warhol’s fifteen minutes (of fame) to single digits. It irked us that so many media types gave Philly Jesus publicity, either by snapping his picture or by including him in interviews.  Philly Jesus is proof, as if we needed any, that commercial media will suck the udders of any fly- by- night oddity deemed hot by inept culture vultures.
 We went to 920 Clinton Street where writer Agnes Repplier wrote many of her books and had teas for world famous visitors but we were disappointed to see that there was no historic marker near the property. Lesser known lights in the world of jazz and sports get historic markers, but not “the Jane Austen of the essay” who was once esteemed by Edith Wharton, Dorothy Parker and Willa Cather. Is this yet another case of Philly refusing to honor one of its own?