Let’s Get One Thing Straight

Hey Philly. We need to talk.

I know that it’s really cool to pretend to not have fun these days. And hey, I get it- the hipster mentality of standing around nodding your head to live music probably looks like a cooler alternative than dancing around like an idiot and showing that you’re enjoying yourself.

But please. Let’s get serious. What’s the point of paying $25 to stand for four hours? You may as well get some exercise, and, imagine that, maybe even enjoy yourself in the process. A little electric slide never hurt anyone, right?.

Unless you’re my grandmother Yeta and it’s 2005 Bat Mitzbah season. I don’t think her hips will ever be the same after that.

Let’s back up a bit. We’ve already established that I suffer from post-depressive Beatlemania. From the floppy haircuts to the chelsea boots, the minute a rock band starts “La La La”ing, I’m hooked. Leeds natives Kaiser Chiefs are no exception. The quintet are an interesting experiment not only because they employ said catchy riffs but because they make their sound so interesting. In a sea of Fab Four impersonators they manage to keep their sound true to their Britpop genre yet throw in a couple good hardcore guitar drops to set them apart from the rest.

Basically, think of them as the punk cousins of The Beatles.

Kaiser Chiefs took over Union Transfer last Thursday, April 12th, on the Philadelphia leg of their US tour promoting their latest album, “The Future is Medieval”. After first hearing their song “Everyday I Love You Less and Less”, which pretty much sums up my feelings on everything from ex boyfriends to Glee, I was hooked, and there was no way I was going to miss this gig.

Judging from the ringing in my ears that has not eased up since last Thursday, I’m pretty sure we can all attest that the show did not disappoint. From the wildly acrobatic stage moves to the impressive setlist (a large compilation of their greatest hits, including “Ruby” and “Never Miss a Beat”), it was one of the most entertaining performances I’d ever seen. But even though the Chiefs were everything you’d want to see in a live rock show, some other parts of the experience left some things to be desired. While the band’s infectious rock and roll was enough to make half the crowd jump up and down like a Russian folk dancer, the rest of the audience failed to do more than nod their heads along to the beat and scream along to the lyrics. Unfortunately, it seemed like Philly talked the talk but utterly failed to walk the walk.

Sensing this, frontman Ricky Wilson improvised. Halfway through the show, he surprised the crowd by jumping off stage and climbing onto the side railings separating the bar from the general standing/dancing area (although in this case, it was more like the stationary area), where he openly shared the mic, encouraging everyone to scream at the top of their lungs. Freudian, but effective- the tension was released with every shout, yell, and squeal that Wilson got out of them one by one. It seemed as if even though most Philadelphians were too embarrassed about their moves, you can at least count on us to out-yell anyone in the tri-state area.

Which I guess counts for something. I mean, where would we all be without The Clash’s legendary wails that inspired over a thousand kids with newly purchased guitar picks and parents who’d rather they go into a sensible career to pick up a guitar and start a musical revolution?

So. For now you’re forgiven. But come on, y’all. Get it together in the future. I don’t like being the only one making a fool of myself on the dance floor.

If you want to know more about Kaiser Chiefs, you can check out their website here, and if you’re banging your head against your laptop keyboard for missing this gig, make sure to check Union Transfer’s website for some other awesome upcoming shows.

Also, I have excellent taste in music, so if you’re so inclined, feel free check out my favorite tracks:

1) “Kinda Girl You Are” (Off “The Future is Medieval”)
2) “Heat Dies Down” (Off “The Angry Mob)
3) “Can’t Say What I Mean” (Off “Off With Their Heads”)

Aziz Ansari Stops by Penn

I love funny people. I don’t care if you’re rude, ugly, condescending, or particularly nasty-smelling: if you’re funny, I’m into you. This has usually resulted in various social problems throughout my life- mainly, I began hanging around a group of particularly nasty-smelling people.

My favorite funny person in the entire universe (after my mother, but that doesn’t count because I don’t think she’s aware of hoe hilarious everything she does is. Which only makes everything funnier.) is comedian/actor/generally cool guy Aziz Ansari. Being a “Parks and Recreation” fan, it’s pretty hard not to love Tom Haverford, the sarcastic, underachieving government official for the city of Pawnee, Indiana, that he plays on the show. With an ego larger than the Taj Mahal, and a best friend called Jean Ralphio, Tom Haverford is the classic cocky office cad everyone should hate, but can’t because his level of swag is just that high.

Long before he was treating himself in national television, however, Aziz (I will refer to him by his first name because calling him Mr. Ansari would probably make him burst out in laughter.) was a fairly successful stand-up comedian based in Los Angeles. Going back to his what he does best, Aziz is embarking on a national tour called “Buried Alive”, which he got to test drive yesterday, March 13th, in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,500 students in Penn’s Irvine Auditorium, courtesy of the university’s SPEC-TRUM (the Social Planning and Events Committee To Represent Undergraduate Minorities) club.

The hype around this show was palpable- students began lining up outside Irvine as early as two hours in advance, taking advantage of the nice weather to picnic before the performance. And if you’ve ever seen any of his stand-up on YouTube, you will definitely understand why- from re-tellings of bizarre nights out with Kanye West to making fun of his chubby cousin Harris, it’s pretty hard not to clutch your stomach from laughter, while simultaneously nodding along to his surprisingly rateable views on the strange world we live in.

Aziz did not disappoint. He emerged to rousing applause, and launched into a set so hilarious that I am fully suing him for the laugh-line wrinkles I am most certainly going to get as a cause of my perpetual grinning. He talked about everything from ugly babies, his fear of marriage, online dating, and meeting the president (apparently, Mr. Obama behaves in the exact same way I would if I were the president of the United States- namely, joke-punching the trumpet player of The Roots and high-fiving everyone). He expressed his exasperation at bros who hang out in bars- you know, the type who wear button-downs with baseball caps, and will give you an impassioned speech about how “You could have spilled my drink and we could have had a problem,” if you accidentally push up on them on the way out. “Seriously”, he deadpanned, “Don’t you have a tattoo of a Chinese symbol you can look at for a bit to calm you down?”.

I kind of began regretting my decision not to get one of those tattoos (just kidding, mom.) after an hour of non-stop laughing- I’m pretty sure my mouth stretched beyond capacity a few times from smiling too much. The most memorable parts of the night were the times when he addressed members of the audience directly, asking them to share their experiences on everything from marriage to online dating. He even bantered back and forth with a student on the front row about his spring break trip to Jamaica. As this was a Penn student, the guy had spent his time there in a private villa.

Needless to say, he provided a lot of free material to make fun of.

If you missed out on the fun, he’s making his rounds back in Philly on June 23rd at the Merriam Theater. Tickets run up from $35, so grab them while they’re still available and bring along an extra sweatshirt- after a bit, raucous laughter gets annoying to the people around you, and may need to be muffled.

Alternate Plans

To put it bluntly, I did not expect last night, Saturday March 10th, to be a good night. Let’s talk about why:
1) It was fully below zero degrees during the entire day, delaying the debut of my newly-purchased imitation Bjork swan dress (Every time I want to wear it, something interferes! EVERY. TIME.)
2) The Black Keys were playing Wells Fargo center, and because I did not feel like parting with my left kidney to pay for the tickets, I was not able to attend.
And lastly, but most importantly:
3) My favorite band, Arctic Monkeys, were the supporting act. And I was not going.
*Cue the weeping violins*

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky: this means that you are not my friend and therefore are not subject to constant screeching any time the Mokeys take out a new single or get a haircut. Their sound is trademarked English rock: riffing guitars, a completely danceable punk sound, and devastatingly good-looking members. Simply said, they are my favorite band and absolutely flaw-free in every way, shape, and form.

Well, besides for general conduct and public misbehavior, including bouts of smoking, drinking, and
violently throwing guitars on stage.
But beyond that, I’m pretty sure we’d get along super-well. And by “get along”, I mean get married.

Arctic Monkeys: ruining my life since 2008

I mean, what?

Anyway, it was probably for the best. If anything, I saved myself a few heart attacks: I have a tendency of either flailing like a fish/breathing heavily/dying every time I see a picture of Alex Turner, frontman and resident Number One Attractive Person. Who knows what might have happened if I’d been exposed to his face for over an hour? Also, if I had been going to that concert, the scene throughout the car ride would have looked a lot like this:

Just another day in the Roman family Nissan Versa, y'all

I undoubtedly saved a lot of would-be victims of car accidents on the highway. You’re welcome, Pennsylvania Municipal Roads Maintenance.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately, if you’re my personal finances… personified…yeah.) my love for Alex does not expand to my bank account, and I simply was not willing to pay top dollar for an evening of fun (yet another reason why I will never be a succssful politician or wealthy CEO…wait for it… wait for it… yup. You just got the joke. Congratulations.), so I resigned myself to alternate plans. Now, as I am a highly in-demand socialite at the most upscale social circles, my options culminated into a choice of three:
1) Roam the Wells Fargo concession stands, weeping like some kind of demented Sixers fan.
2) Stay at home watching season two of Downton Abbey for the fourth time.
3) Go see the Philadelphia Orchestra perform at the Kimmel with my family.
I chose the Kimmel. The night’s offerings were eccentric in their grouping:  Leonard Bernstein’s “On The Waterfront” film-score-turned-symphonic-suite, Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, and Tchaikovsky’s Black Swan mood music “Swan Lake”. I was curious to see how “Rhapsody in Blue” in particular would sound live, mainly because when I was a kid, Fantasia 2000 was my favorite movie, and it featured a jazz-age clip soundtracked to Gershwin’s masterpiece, so I decided to register for the EZ Student Pass Subscription ($25 per year and admittance to all performances with a college student ID) and grab a ticket to the performance. Plus, after four consecutive marathons,  Matthew and Mary’s on-again, off-again romantic shenanigans were starting to get a little old. JUST GET MARRIED ALREADY AND PUT US ALL OUT OF OUR PBS-INDUCED MISERY, YOU LUNATICS.

File under: life ruiners

Anyway.  My original intention had been to smuggle a pair of headphones into the performance and conspicuously jam to “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” in honor of my rejected UK husbands all alone in Wells Fargo. However, I was unable to do so as a cause of two things: 1) the gentleman sitting next to me harrumphed so loudly the second I took out my iPod that I was afraid he’d turn all Alan Rickman on me and start tutting about the next generation’s intellectual and cultural shortcomings, and 2) the performance given by the Philadelphia Orchestra was so electric that I even managed to forget that this had been a last-minute change of plans.
The orchestra began Bernstein’s “On The Waterfront” suite with a rhythmic, rousing percussion set, soon followed by West Side Story-esque horns and trumpets. The culminating effect was very James Bond meets Narnia film score. A considerable influence from Stravinksy’s  “Rite of Spring” also threaded throughout the entire symphony, and the entire thing was terribly exciting, spurned forward with the help of the conductor, who looked a bit like the guy from NUMB3RS, and was very entertaining to watch thrust around to the beat. After a short break, “Rhapsody in Blue” began, with visiting pianist Stewart Goodyear on the soloist’s chair, who played so brilliantly that it was difficult to keep social conduct and not bop along to the music. Goodyear struck the keys sharply but decidedly , breeding suspense by pausing on the verge of some notes to get the full effect of anticipation. This electric homage to one of jazz’s most iconic pieces was met with a rousing standing ovation from about 99% of the Verizon Hall audience- the other 1% being too too lazy to get up, aka me (hey, my heels hurt to stand on!).
As electric as the said performances were, I have to admit that my favorite piece of the night was “Swan Lake”. The orchestra selected twelve excerpts from the original ballet for the evening’s performance (because if they’d performed the entire ballet I’d probably be typing this blog entry from Verizon Hall at this very moment), which included a dynamic usage of percussion and caracas in “Spanish Dance”, as well as your standard beautiful flute notes swaying in the background. Driven by the sharp, melodic lead violin and the bubbling harp movements, a very romantic, regal melody is achieved. It was easy to envision the tragic, beautiful fairytale that drives the ballet- Prince Siegfried (don’t judge, he’s German, the poor soul) falls in love with the beautiful Odette, who turns into a swan by day thanks to the evil wizard Rothbart (seriously?! Come on, Germany!) because she wouldn’t marry him. On the night Siegfried’s supposed to choose his bride in a Cinderella-esque ball, he goes for Rothbart’s daughter Odile, who’s Odette’s double, and marries her instead. By the time he’s figured out that they are two separate people (men…), Odette’s already pulled a Juliet and drowned herself in the lake. Stricken with grief, Siegfried kills himself too, and either Rothbart’s seen “Romeo and Juliet” too many times and would rather die than see it replayed, or his selfless sacrifice saves the kingdom forever.
Either way, everyone dies… except for Odile, that is (darn it Odile, you had one job to do!). Thankfully, the animated film version at least has a dancing frog.
On the sequel, he has a six-pack. You cannot make stuff like this up.
I will conclude this absurdly long review (seriously, why are you even still reading this?), with three observations. 1) Classical music can be just as exciting  as good old fashioned rock ‘n roll, 2) some people still don’t know how to find the off switch in their cellphones (MORTIFYING), 3) I have never been more glad to miss out on a potential Best Concert of My Life.

Van Gogh Up Close (Or, My Pathetic Thing for Gingers)

Warning: existentialist art rambling up ahead, proceed with caution.

If you know anything about me, you know that I love nothing more than a good old-fashioned weirdo. I’ve befriended them, I’ve dated them, I’ve shared classroom desks with them, I’ve even shared family tree branches with them. But no maniac ranks higher on my admiration list than Vincent Van Gogh.

I should explain. When I was seven years old, it became apparent that normal people were ingeniously boring. I just couldn’t get the appeal of beige suits, small talk, and office jobs where you do nothing but secretly check Facebook every half-hour. In my head, that sense of security came from giving up your personality, the things that make you weird and at the same time interesting. Coming from a background of sensible job-seekers like engineers and teachers, I soon became fascinated with bohemian artists and musicians; people who, yes, might not necessarily bring food to the table every night, but somehow managed to make life interesting through words, paint, or music. Artists in particular became my heroes, because as interesting as their work was, their lives were just as intriguing, because they lived passionately in order to create art. And if that passion for life sometimes drove you into questionable behavior territory? Well, then at least you’ve got an interesting story to tell at your funeral.

Aww, come on. How can you say no to this face?

Vincent Van Gogh has been my favorite painter ever since I discovered that he cut off his ear and mailed it to a prostitute. I don’t understand why he did it, I don’t see what was achieved by it, and I don’t get why that limb specifically (seriously bro, what’s wrong with a Hallmark card?). But he was forever immortalized as my number one favorite weirdo ever after, because if that was the sort of thing he did in real life, I could only imagine how far he would go in the artistic realm.

Going to the Philadelphia Art Museum with me is a pretty embarrassing experience, because I always insist on doing two things 1) visiting the Weapons ‘n Armor section, and 2) staring for ten minutes straight at the “Sunflowers” on the impressionist wing while weeping uncontrollably. So you can pretty much predict the spike in my emotional stability when I finally managed to buy a ticket to “Van Gogh Up Close”, the museum’s latest limited-time exhibit showcasing the work of my favorite ginger, specifically those produced during the tumultuous years before he took his own life. The presentation centered around a collection of rather unknown pieces with forests and trees as the main subject, almost exclusively dwells on the way Van Gogh immersed himself in nature to soothe his frantic mind. He saw nature not only as a subject on a canvas, but as a calming device, and in the later days leading to his violent suicide seemed to draw more and more on the environment to keep him going.

"Emperor Moth", 1889

The exhibit also draws on the influence of Japanese wood-block prints, which inspired not only Van Gogh but some of his other contemporaries like Degas and Gaugin. As you walk through the room, you really get a sense of the way that oriental artistic style inspired Van Gogh to focus on the details of the subjects he painted, and draw on the usage of color and techniques like pointillism to give the subject depth and dimension, making this time in his life a very important one for personal artistic development.

I loved, loved, loved “Van Gogh Up Close”. While I was initially kind of disappointed with the lack of famous paintings presented (come on, who do I have to kill to see “Starry Night” with my own eyes???), it was really interesting to discover a previously unknown period in Van Gogh’s life, and it definitely helped me understand his agitated mind further. Plus, I saw “A Pair of Boots” in person, and that, my friends, was enough to keep me going through both of my killer English midterms.

Awww yiss, working class symbols all up in hurr

With our handy-dandy PEX pass, you get a $5 ticket to the PMA, so what better time to use it? Student ticketing for “Van Gogh Up Close” is a bit expensive- $20 a pop- but you can spend the entire day in the exhibition if you so desire. And come on, what’s more important? That new H&M dress, or the opportunity to see tree paintings in person while an audiobook Harvard art historian talks you through the very strange suicide of the greatest artist that ever lived?

Don’t answer that.

“Van Gogh Up Close” runs through the spring until May 6th. For more information and ticketing rates, check out the museum’s website.

What Fun Things To Do At the Philadelphia Zoo: A Poem

Oh what fun things there are to do

At the nearby Philadelphia zoo

There’s staring, and gaping

And writing a blog review

There’s “aww”ing at monkeys

And munching on overpriced fries,

There’s harassing the peacocks

And hearing children’s cries

There’s naked mole rats

And snakes of all ages

There’s slumbering albino bats

And birds trapped in cages

If what I just described sounds like a nightmare

Don’t worry, it’s not!

Rest assured that if they were to escape

They’d surely be caught.

If you should ever grow bored,

Climb the animal statues, they’re insured

Or visit the bunnies at the petting zoo

They’ll make the time pass right through

Roses are red

Violets are blue.

Indeed nothing gets better

Than a day at the zoo.

By now you’re seen that, boy,

I’m not the best poet

In fact, I’ve often had to employ

Some jokes to make up for it.

But you really should have known

This entire poem was written by RhymeZone

Please don’t blame me, it’s not my fault

That I’ve yet to act like an adult

For who can resist going a bit cuckoo

When they visit the Philadelphia Zoo?

Things to Do on Valentine’s Day That Don’t Include Killing Yourself

Straight up the only Valentine's Day card I will ever accept with delight.

Oh, Valentine’s day. I love you, I hate you, I mostly hate you. What is it about you that ignites both such a rabid raid of various chocolate aisles at the supermarket and outright collective hatred all at the same time? Is it the lovers frolicking around o Rittenhouse Square even though it is fully below zero temperature outside? Is it the constant pokes we get in the back from the long-stemmed rose that the girl standing behind us on the subway is swinging around in a lovesick ecstasy? Perhaps it’s the fact that nobody knows who St. Valentine is and why he is so qualified to create his own holiday to begin with.

Let’s just come right out and say that I am not the most romantic person. I refused to accompany my friends to see “Dear John” at the cinema because the last time I saw a Nicholas Sparks movie  I kept throwing popcorn indignantly at the screen without realizing it. I cannot watch a single episode of “The Bachelor” without either bursting out in laughter or violently insulting all of the contestants. I didn’t even cry during “Titanic”. It’s that bad.

However, I know do I am not the only Valentine’s Day hater out there. This I have learned from having a Tumblr account and a steady exposure to Woody Allen movies. So, without further ado, here are my five pics for things to do if you want to embark outside on Februray 14thwithout wanting to burn down the entire city.  Hopeless cynics, this one’s for you.

1) Go on a Valentine’s Day ghost tour

The people over at Ghost Tours of Philadelphia are offering a special Valentine’s Day 75 minute walking tour of Society Hill that includes a tour of the historic Powel House, narrated by haunting love stories and the ghosts they leave behind. See? Love does kill!

2) Avoid Max Brenner’s at All Cost
I can pretty much guarantee you that there will be enough couples taking a “romantic” chocolate tasting date to make you wish the Spanish had never discovered the cocoa bean (even the notion!). Unless your plans include flipping over a table in exhasperation at a public place, don’t even think about it.

3) Treat Yo’ Self 2012

George Bernard Shaw once said, “There is no sincerer love than the love of food”. By that logic, Valentine’s Day should revolve entirely around eating as much as possible, so do yourself a favor and take yourself out on a date. The trick is to avoid anywhere even remotely fancy, as you will undoubtedly trip over the army of red and pink balloons that are sure to be decorating most restaurants. Some ideas: burgers and shakes at 500 Degrees, quesadillas at El Fuego, and pizza from Slice.

4) Catch a showing of “The Iron Lady” at the Ritz 5

Possibly the least sexy film in all of history, this movie will make you either want to marry Meryl Streep for her acting ability, or rethink your decision to study abroad in London.  Also, you can get artsy popcorn with hipster drinks like Jones sodas at the concession stand. And, as a plus, you can basically guarantee there will be no couples in the audience.

5) Head over to the PMA for the Van Gogh exhibit

There is no better example of how crazy love makes us than Vincent Van Gogh- the guy cut off his own ear for a girl he had a crush on.  We can’t say we’re big fans of being sent body parts on envelopes for Valentine’s Day , but it was certainly creative. Honor his holey artistry by paying a visit to the world-famous sunflower oils currently on display for a limited time at the special galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

And a bonus!

6) Rent a copy of Twilight and remind yourself that love sucks anyway.

Pun intended

A Birthday Carol

There’s something about Charles Dickens. You may groan at the page count of his many brick-heavy classic tomes, but the man knows how to tell a story. Maybe it’s the idea of Victorian London brought to life, maybe it’s a soft-side for orphanage stories (hellooo, Harry Potter), maybe it’s the rags-to-riches formula so well-utilized throughout all his novels… or maybe it’s the fact that as a college student, I’m all too familiar with the rags part of the story, at least while we sell our souls to the loan banks and rely sorely on ramen noodles as our primary source of nourishment. All in all, I’m a big fan of Chuck, and chances are, you probably are, too.
The truth is, even though nobody will admit it, everyone secretly wishes they could be transported back to Dickensian England, at least for one night. Think of it as the nerdier spinoff of “Midnight in Paris”: who doesn’t want to stroll around London’s cobblestone streets, drop by the old orphanage, and see men in waistcoats and tophats without having to be unceremoniously thrown out by security for trespassing the BBC film studios?
Thankfully, Philadelphians don’t have to go far (or assault any British media outlets) to pay homage to the father of English scruffiness. On February 5th at 2pm, drop by the Griffith Hall at University of the Sciences (43rd and Kingsessing) for the annual Charles Dickens Birthday Party In West Philadelphia, located on 43rd and Chester Streets. The gathering marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth, the cause of which we have to thank for bringing “Great Expectations” and “A Tale of Two Cities” into our high school summer reading list, as well as several Disney versions of “A Christmas Carol” starring Donald Duck.  On the itinerary? Birthday cake for Dickens and a procession across the street to his statue on Clark Park to sing Happy Birthday, as well as dramatic re-tellings of some of his best stories and musical presentation from both local and (because it couldn’t be any other way) British artists paying their
respects to the father of charming misfortune.
Also on the menu: the Kingsessing Morris Men dancers, who will perform Morris dancing during the reception. Apparently, it’s some kind of medieval dance in which full-grown men dress up in ballet shoes with white knee-high socks and hack a bunch of sticks around while circling each other and bowing a lot, something that I would definitely pay good money to witness. Thankfully for me and my wallet, the event is free for the public! Good ol’ Chuck would’ve been proud.

Tales of Woe From My Lack of a Social Life

I know I should probably not complain about this, but my parents’ stable marriage sickens me. Anytime they come back from a date they find the need to show off the fact that their social lives are much more riveting than mine. They’ll saunter home at some god-forsaken hour (9pm, usually) and break down the door to my room where I am peacefully spending my Friday night the usual way -rewatching the season finale of Chuck on loop and crying to myself- to tell me about their evening.

“Oh Maga, you would not believe the concert we went to at the Kimmel Center!”

“Ay dios, you should have been there, the orchestra practically shook!”

“Why don’t you come along to our tango group and meet somebody your own age?”

“Stop shoving popcorn in your face and listen to our evening!”

Really, it’s enough to make me want to throw said popcorn at their faces (but who am I to waste perfectly good food on pathetic lovesick elders?).

Last week, however, their usual dramatic re-tellings of the event they attended was tinged with something resembling surprise. They’d decided to drop by the Philadelphia Museum’s Art After 5 program, which takes place every Friday night after 5pm and includes a number of entertainment offerings sponsored by the museum- they’ve held everything from Halloween parties to Opera flash-singing evenings- with food and drink to spare. Personally, I really like to go to those sorts of things because it usually means I can eat fancy food while listening to fancy music in a fancy staircase, slowly wondering if Saint-Gaudens’ original intent for his Diana statue (which graces the Great Stairs) was to decorate an extended dance party.

The funny thing is, it probably was.

HEY, WHO WANTS TO SEE ME SHOOT THIS ARROW THROUGH ARCHIMEDES' SHOT GLASS?

Regardless, the reason for my parents’ sudden flush of excitement and shortness of breath was a very serious dance party they had inadvertently stumbled into. Let’s be serious for a second- when you walk into the lobby of the PMA, the last thing you expect is to find an inproptu dance floor dating back to your prom years. But with the help of a certain DJ Cosmo and some truly outstanding beats, the Great Staircase of the Philadelphia Museum found itself suddenly flooded with raving dancers, a scene I’m sure it hasn’t witnessed since the days when flash mobbing was cool and original (I’m talking to you, “Friends with Benefits”)

Now, of course, at the name “DJ Cosmo”, you can probably guess what I was thinking:

Don’t lie, you thought the same thing too. DON’T LIE TO THE INTERNET.

Sadly, the museum hasn’t yet figured out how to hire magical Nickelodeon cartoon characters, but you get the next best thing.  DJ Cosmo Baker, who “blends hip-hop, disco, rock, funk, and reggae while staying true to his Philadelphia roots,” is based in Brooklyn, where he helped found The Rub, an internationally known DJ/remix collective. And he’s coming back for a rematch!

This Friday, Feburary 3rd (aka tomorrow), forgo the usual route of either breaking the law or crying into your popcorn, and stop by Art After 5’s “Philadelphia Dance Party” to bust a move, or at least attempt to. From what I hear, the place gets pretty crowded once everybody finds out DJ Cosmo is not really a floating cartoon fairy with a mathematics problem.

Art After 5 takes place every Friday from 5pm-9pm at the Great Stairs lobby of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and it’s free after admission!

Feelin’ Punky

Finals? What's that?

I’m going to go ahead and take a break from studying for finals (and by studying I mean opening up Microsoft Word and writing my name in MLA format) to inform you of an extremely exciting event taking place this Sunday, December 11.

What could possibly be worth the possibility of failing your Race and Diversity final? Why, taking an extended study break from 10am to 5pm, to head on down to 461 N. 9th St. for the sorta-bi-annual Punk Rock Flea Market, of course! Hosted by R5 productions, the Punk Rock Flea Market has been active in the Philadelphia community for a few years now, and it’s grown so much in popularity that for this “Holiday Edition”, they will also be hosting a record fair across the street at Starlight Ballroom.

What exactly does this entail? Oh, only about two buildings of stuff to browse through and 300+ tables of vendors selling old records, clothes, art, music, food, junk, bicycles, stereo equipment, instruments, tools, posters, and furniture, not to mention some of the best-quality hipster spotting of the year.  In situations like this, I like to play a game called “spot the animal-hat wearing Urban Outfitters weirdo”. You know the type:

Aww, don't I look cute in this three ft. tall knit hat depicting the face of a vicious Arctic mammal which will undoubtedly block your view of the classroom board? AREN'T I SO KAWAII?!?

My friends and I place bets on who can tally the most sightings in the shortest time period. This is an especially fun game to play anytime one of us goes into the Tyler building.

Nature truly is fascinating.

If the idea of knocking elbows with Occupy Philly enthusiasts makes you want to break out in hives, just think of the possibilities for early Christmas shopping. With famously low prices on everything from kitschy Jesus statues to vintage EPs, you’re bound to find something for any budget. You’ll surely climb to the top of Grandma’s will once you present her with a personalized pair of Doc Martens spelling out G-R-A-M-S on the sole. At $3 entry price (although it is technically a donation, so if you’re too broke to spare a few bucks to go inside a place you will be spending money at anyway, I suppose we could throw solidarity and good manners out the window and simply go in.), it’s well worth the trip down the Broad St. subway line: legend has it that my friend walked out of the last flea market with handfuls Erin-Wasson-worthy vintage clothes and records for under $15.

Yes, I am friends with the sort of people who listen to vinyl records. You may now pause for collective sighs and rhythmic head-shaking.

All proceeds from entry fees go to support the “all ages shows” R5 Productions puts on at the First Unitarian Church and elsewhere throughout Philadelphia- you can thank them for booking Neon Indian at Union Transfer this April  .  So if on Sunday you find yourself playing The Clash at top volume while you review those last anatomy terms on flashcards.com, perhaps fate is giving you a sign of a place you’d much rather be at. And if you do eventually find yourself abandoning the flashcards and joining the cool kids instead, find me for a bit of a chat –I’ll be the girl with her arms firmly crossed over her chest in the corner silently counting to herself.

Just in Case you Run Out of Stuff to Do on the Internet

We know you’d never go anywhere but the Temple GenEd blog to get your daily dose of Philly culture. But just in case you can’t get enough of our wit, humor, and insight, check out these awesome websites about the Philly area worth a click-through.

1. Talkadelphia
Run by Temple Law students Kishwer and Gino, Talkadelphia is a weekly podcast bringing you to attention some of Philly’s coolest residents, most notably local artists, authors, and filmmakers. While it’s a convenient way to find out more about the region (no having to scroll through endless HTML of interview material- just put it on your iPod and go!), it’s also a great place to find contacts and information about cool people who are achieving their dreams without having to move to New York City. The dynamic duo picked up the award for Best New Podcast at the Geekadelphia Awards this past August, so you know they’re worthy of my attention.
2. Campus Philly
Yeah, okay, I’m biased because I blog contributing articles for this site, but hear me out! Not only do they secure some of the best discounts for students in the area (10% off Ben & Jerry’s… hello), they have an online calendar of events happening all over the city so you never run out of stuff to do. Also, their articles on cool stuff like classes and concerts are worth checking out for their witty banter. They’re also bursting with Temple staffers… editor Zach Thornbury is a Temple junior, staff writer Alex Grubard is studying English, and fellow PEX blogger Jordyn Kimmelhein also contributes articles!
3. Philebrity
This is easily the funniest weblog giving up the dirt on what’s really happening in Philly, in all caps and explicit language (my favorite kind). They report on everything from Occupy Philly to local artists’ weirdest exhibits. It’s basically the Perez Hilton of the celebrity-lacking metropolis, without the annoying pink neon background and the unacceptable WindowsPaint-edited pictures of herp-derping celebs. The ongoing and very public rivalry between them and Philly Mag is worth the click alone.
4. Geekadelphia
Through this blog I found my latest read and current obsession, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” for which I am eternally grateful. (and yes, I will pedal you to read it. Especially since it’s distributed by local Philly publishers Quirk Books). They offer up reviews on everything even mildly considered geeky, from books to gadgets, and highlight upcoming events, people, and news surrounding the Philadelphia area. If you’re at all interested in Apple products, you should probably do yourself a favor and click away.
5.   Chattersource
The college student’s answer to Yelp, it’s a really handy website to keep track of because there is clearly a difference between Yelp cheap and college cheap.  They feature everything from Food and Drink reviews to University News and Things to Do, updated daily not by staff writers but by real students and college organizations. They also review off-campus housing buildings, so you never have to look too far for a background check on the too-good-to-be-true-but-hey-it’s-cheap new place you’re considering renting.
6. Flying Kite Media
I’m not supposed to tell you this, but when I can’t think of any new ideas to blog about, I check out this website for inspiration. I know! Shocking! It’s like revealing what’s behind the curtain of the Wizard of Oz or something! If you’re willing to keep reading this article after finding out my deep dark secret, Flying Kite might have the randomest website name that also has absolutely nothing to do with the topics it covers, but that doesn’t mean the articles are! They’ve got tips on everything from how to survive as a struggling musician in Philadelphia to what potential employers really think of your decision to take a gap year off. Their giveaways are always really exciting, too- I once scored tickets to the sold-out end of summer fireworks and Philly Orch concert at the Mann Center!
Au revoir!
Magali