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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

ICON Magazine October City Beat 2015

                                                   ICON Magazine October City Beat 2015

Sexiness is rarely about total nudity but how to accent parts of the nude body.  Most of the riders in Philly’s 2015 Naked Bike Ride (NBR) seemed to understand this because many of the bodies on display were “hidden” in body paint. NBR came on the scene in 2009 when it promoted the idea that drivers need to share the roads with bicyclists. The feeling was that bicyclists need protection from vehicles, but what about pedestrians who need protection from bicyclists? Philly writer Tom Purdom was taking one of his daily 3 mile walks along the recreational path of Schuylkill River Park when he was hit from behind by a bicyclist who wasn’t paying attention. Whether the bicyclist was on a cell phone when he/she hit Purdom is a mystery but the 70-plus year old writer wound up in Pennsylvania Hospital’s ICU with major spinal and head injuries. In a newspaper account of the incident there was no mention whether charges were filed against the “inattentive” bicyclist.  While we’re sure the bicyclist’s inattention had nothing to do with nudity or sharing the road with vehicles, what concerns us is whether that bicyclist is back on the road looking for other spinal connections.       

The Fringe Festival opened with “avant garde” tag lines like “The world’s most cutting edge art performances.”  Tina Brock’s ‘Exit the King’ generated rave reviews while others complained that it was too long. The problem with producing absurdist, nonsensical abstract “interactive art exhibits” and dance performances that purport to explore human relationships is that many of these productions are narcisstic exercises in randomness: a dance, a tune on a flute, zombies with guns, some Philip Glass, masks, and a guy in a skirt and presto-- you have an art pie! Or an art mess. The Fringe is like those Country Buffet restaurants that have so much food you sometimes wind up not wanting anything to eat. Whether it’s the stretched existential implausibility of the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium; the overly praised Bearded Ladies (who are rarely funny), adolescent indulgences like Zombies with Guns, a Comedy hypnosis show or following a so called conceptual artist who will wash your dirty dishes, sometimes art is not anything you want it to be. Sometimes it’s just fringe that needs a pair of scissors.         

We had high hopes for the Philly Fashion Week opener sponsored by PHLDiversity. The event took place at Sugar House and was one of the Casino’s better receptions. We love a good fashion show but fifteen minutes into the runway strut we wondered where the diversity was. Only one white model among the 8 or 10 beautiful women struck as us odd. It didn’t help that many of the fashions seemed weighed down with excess material in all the wrong places. One dress had a mermaid like design with the tail section acting as a boa constrictor that prevented the model from walking naturally. Other dresses looked as though they had been cut from museum tapestries: exquisite material but so bulky they approached the level of drag. Where’s the sleek classic black dress made famous by Audrey Hepburn? We also had to remind one roving “fashion” paparazzi who was only photographing African American guests to please remember the PHL Diversity label.  

Jay-Z, Beyonce, Budweiser and Melanoma: The 4th annual Made in America Parkway concert set the city on fire with mutha-fu*ker, biotche, gun running and ho raps. It was, as they say, a perfect urban ode to the end of summer.  MIA is the corporate McDonald’s version of Woodstock, and the three day Parkway siege had teeny boppers in selfie high five ecstasy as Bass Drum of Death, Earl Sweatshirt, G-Eazy and DJ Mustard merged  with sound machines while making up (on the spot) rhymes. Participants appeared transfixed as they stared at the stage like zombies while the intense sun above streamed seed imparting Melanoma rays, another kind of concert with a not so delectable rap.   

 The Penn Museum’s opening of Sacred Writings: Extraordinary Texts of the Biblical World balanced out the end of summer. A fragment of St. Matthew’s gospel (3rd century) written on papyrus; an ancient clay Sumerian tablet; folios from a 12th century illuminate Qur’an and a 13th century Latin bible took us far away from the world of zombies with guns.  The exhibit ends November 8, 2015.