Wednesday, Feb. 16
Jewish Delis in America
For the longest time, I bought into the myth that the only way to get a properly tender, flavorful, straight-up memorable pastrami-on-rye sandwich was to travel up to New York, ideally to Katz’s or 2nd Avenue Deli (something about the New York water, people always said). And then I discovered the succulent, perfectly spiced pastrami, corned beef and other delicacies at Hershel’s East Side Deli in Reading Terminal Market and realized that while NYC may be the birthplace of the Jewish deli, that city far from corners the market on delicious, traditional Jewish food. Tonight, Steven Safern and Andrew Wash of Hershel’s preside over a class that explains how the humble street pushcarts of 19th- and early 20th-century Jewish-Americans evolved into the iconic indoor delicatessen, and they’ll discuss the origin of such foods as knishes, chopped liver, gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, corned beef, pastrami and much more. They’ll also demonstrate the secrets to making this mouth-watering stuff at home (beats interrogating a Jewish grandmother under a swaying 40-watt bulb) and yes, there will be ample samples to taste. Maybe they’ll even spring the ol’ Milton Berle joke on you: “Anytime a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies.” -Michael Alan Goldberg
7pm. $20. The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, 4207 Walnut St. 215.222.4200. walnuthillcollege.edu
Bern Nix Trio
Decoding Ornette Coleman’s musical language is no easy task, but guitarist Bern Nix took to it well as a member of Prime Time in the ’70s and ’80s (Dancing in Your Head, Body Meta, In All Languages, Virgin Beauty). He’s kept a fairly low profile since, although his playing with the Bern Nix Trio has an undiminished spark, an open-endedness consistent with Coleman’s world yet stamped with individuality. Despite the music’s edgier qualities, Nix seems unperturbable, phrasing and chording fluidly on archtop guitar as bassist François Grillot and drummer Jackson Krall turn up the heat underneath. Philly-based duo Archer Spade (trombonist Dan Blacksberg, guitarist Nick Millevoi) will set a gritty and experimental tone as the opener. -David R. Adler
8pm. $5. With Archer Spade. The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St. 215.573.3234. therotunda.org
Thursday, Feb. 17
While French starlet Audrey Tautou’s singular charms turned Amelie into a global hit nearly a decade ago, there’s no doubt the film’s whimsical, bittersweet musical score—fashioned from strings, piano, toy instruments, and typewriters, and leaning on classical, folk, and chanson textures—played a crucial role in its allure. The man behind the soundtrack is French composer Yann Tiersen, a classically trained violinist/pianist who also moonlighted as a guitarist in numerous punk bands in his youth. Tiersen brings all of his sonic interests to bear on his own albums, the latest of which is Dust Lane—a strange and engaging world unto itself where plush, buoyant melodies crafted from myriad instruments rub up against dark, sometimes noisy post-punk. M.A.G.
8pm. $20. With Shannon Wright. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. 866.468.7619. r5productions.com
Prostitution Ancient and Modern
People rant about these kids today, with their sexting and their furries and their teen pregnancy, as if the past was some sort of sexless utopia (let’s just overlook that oxymoron). But when you look at the past—the real past—sex was frequently a lot less about rose petals and romance as it was about dollars and cents. Interested in learning more about the proverbial “oldest profession?” Dr. Nicholas Rauh, professor of classics at Purdue University and author of The Sacred Bonds of Commerce, will explore archaeological evidence of prostitution in ancient trading ports mixed with his personal experiences and observations (uh, that is to say academic experiences and observations) at police stations and tourist hotels in southern Turkey to bring the discussion from ancient brothels to the modern streets of Antalya. After the talk, mingle with like-minded history buffs over cocktails. -Hannah Keyser
6:15pm. $5-$10. Penn Museum, 3260 South St. 215.898.4000. penn.museum
Rob Riggle is a funny man—I mean, c’mon, his last name is Riggle. On The Daily Show, he’s been Jon Stewart’s “Senior Cabinet Analyst,” “Senior Olympics Correspondent,” “Senior Alaska Correspondent” and “Executive Nonsensical Gibberish Interpreter.” OK, maybe that last one is fake, but he has interviewed many Republican Party members, “real” Americans, assorted protesters and Chinatown residents—among others—to hilarious effect. Unexpectedly, he is also a lieutenant colonel in the Marines and has been deployed to Liberia, Kosovo and Afghanistan over the years, which gives new meaning to some of his military jokes on the show. Ever the Renaissance man, he’s also been a Saturday Night Live cast member and has frequented such shows as Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Office and Arrested Development. Now retired from The Daily Show, he’s been doing the stand-up circuit and is reportedly “fighting crime” as his primary pastime. -Emily Crawford
8pm. $20-$27. Helium, 2031 Sansom St. 215.496.9001. heliumcomedy.com/philadelphia
Friday, Feb. 18
It’s remarkable what people have managed to swallow over the years, and even more remarkable what late-19th/early-20th-century Philadelphia laryngologist Chevalier Jackson stashed away during his practice of retrieving foreign bodies from people’s (most often children’s) airways: More than 2,000 coins, pins, medallions, keys and lots more, all of which form one of the most popular exhibits at the creepy-cool Mütter Museum. Acclaimed literary nonfiction writer Mary Cappello has just written a book about Jackson titled Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them, which not only gets into the details and stories behind his odd collection and the doctor’s eccentricities and idiosyncrasies, but shows how Jackson pioneered the practice of endoscopy via his innovative methods and inventions and ultimately saved many lives. Tonight, Cappello reads from and signs copies of Swallow to celebrate the relaunch of the Jackson exhibit, which she co-curated. M.A.G.
6:30pm. Free. Mütter Museum, 19 S. 22nd St. 215.563.3737. collphyphil.org/Site/
Griefers, self-appointed scourges of the virtual world, delight in ridiculing people who take the Internet too seriously. Predominantly young white men, their antics range from the relatively harmless memes to plaguing habitués of Second Life with scurrilous pranks that verge on downright abuse. Griefers argue it’s all just for laughs, but try slogging through the offensive epithets choking comment sections without feeling a bit queasy. Lisa Nakamura—a scholar whose research straddles literature, media and ethnic studies—doesn’t dismiss griefers’ claims that their jokes are so over-the-top that no one could take them seriously, a brand of humor she refers to as “enlightened racism.” Unlike these online cynics, however, she recognizes that their gibes are sometimes, unfunny, hurtful to others and harmful to society in general. More importantly, she investigates the ties between racism and griefing. Let’s hope her public discussion of this delicate topic is accompanied by an equally thoughtful Twitter feed. -Raymond Simon
Saturday, Feb. 19
Quizzo Bowl VII
There comes a time in everyone’s life when you start asking yourself questions. How did I get here? Where is that large automobile? Where does that highway go to? Secret: The thrill of correctly answering other questions, questions with clearly defined right and wrong answers, can be extremely useful in fending off those murkier ones, and to this we attribute the popularity of Quizzo. If you’re dealing with some high-stakes internal questions, match them up with high-stakes external questions at the biggest local match of the year. Eight people per team, $1,500 in prizes, a year’s worth of glory, a decade’s worth of punny team names. Host Johnny Goodtimes has been recruiting people like Schoolly D and Tony Luke to read questions or otherwise take part in the show; he’s particularly been hounding Bill Cosby to record a question or (even less likely) turn up in person. Well, maybe that’s not going to happen, but in the meantime, he’s got (among others) Anthony Riley, who you may better know as “That handsome kid who’s always making a killing singing Sam Cooke on the street.” Tell the truth—who would you really rather hang out with? -E.G.
8pm. $25-$27. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400. worldcafelive.com
Calendar: Sept. 2-9