What to do in Philly this week.
Wednesday, May 19
Black Maria Film Festival
Give the world the phonograph, and everyone calls you a Wizard. Give America its first film studio, and you're still a wizard, but one credited with fathering a creative movement that persists outside the boundaries of what most laymen would consider 'film' today. Thomas Edison's Black Maria studio produced films of an experimental nature during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, none longer than a few minutes. It's in the same spirit that a film buff in Edison's home state of New Jersey established a forum for short film, the poetry to the American film industry's dubious prose. The Black Maria Film Festival plows through the US each year, maintaining the short-film legacy pioneered by the Wizard of Menlo Park. -Abdullah Saeed
Insane Clown Posse
Insane Clown Posse pre-"Miracles" video: Loathsome, reprehensible, execrable, idiotic, lunkheaded, abominable, nauseating, brainless, moronic, vituperous, ignorant, pathetic, appalling, revolting, obnoxious, brutish, ghastly, embarrassing, repugnant, crude, truculent, grody, small-minded, despicable, imbecilic, vile, horrid and unwelcome. Insane Clown Posse post-"Miracles" video: Brilliant, hilarious, clever, self-aware, sensitive, versatile, shrewd, nimble, astute, insightful, quick-witted, mirthful, waggish, lively, campy, engaging, astute, nervy, sophisticated, nuanced, compelling, sly, dexterous and ubiquitous. How does that work? Must be the fuckin' magnets. -Michael Alan Goldberg
Thursday, May 20
Architecture in Film: The Big Lebowski
Does learning about architectural styles ever leave you feeling a little … out of your element, Donnie? The Coen Brothers' 1998 masterstrike The Big Lebowski has been dissected and lionized every which way, from YouTube videos eliminating all but the F-words from the movie to a more recent translation of the screenplay into Shakespearean verse. But the Center for Architecture takes a unique look at the film, examining the iconic California building styles, particularly architect John Lautner's 1963 Sheats/Goldstein house. As these 1950s and '60s structures start to enter the realm of historic style, films like Lebowski can give you a whole new appreciation for the classic architectural forms. And for bowling, natch. -Jeffrey Barg
7pm. $10. Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch St. 215.569.3186. philadelphiacfa.org
Though local harmonizing folk-rockers Good Old War are headlining, the highlight of this show is rising star Audra Mae. The L.A. songstress’ career may have barely passed the starting line (her debut LP The Happiest Lamb was released Tuesday), but her talent is unmistakable. Her sweet soaring vocals hit like a heartpunch with a tender, indomitable presence reminiscent of Neko Case. Her smoldering debut’s blend of cabaret, jazz, folk and gospel traces a path similar to Jolie Holland with more theatricality and grace. The arrangements are generally understated, colored lightly with warm sonic nuance like a striking backdrop on an otherwise bare stage affording her vocals ample room to shock and awe. -Chris Parker
MOMIX, Guggenheim Fellow Moses Pendleton’s next step after co-founding the famed Pilobolus Dance Theater, presents Botanica, an exploration of nature. The Philadelphia debut will conjure elaborate, off-kilter visuals with large-scale video projections and huge puppets courtesy of Michael Curry, famous for creating puppets featured in The Lion King and The Magic Flute. Conceived as “an herbal remedy for an ailing world,” the piece is scored with a soundtrack ranging from the classical (Vivaldi’s Four Seasons) to the organic and unexpected (birdsong). Innovation is to be expected from a dance company that pioneered a new business model to stay alive in this economy: By nabbing commercial commissions for clients like BMW and Steve Wynn to finance deliciously extravagant works like Botanica, Pendleton proves that the shifting division between art and commerce is only natural. -Tara Murtha
7:30pm. $28-$48. Zellerbach Theater, 3680 Walnut St. 215.898.6791. pennpresents.org
Friday, May 21
National Bike-to-Work Day
Philadelphia is a segregated city; we’re all about the mutually exclusive, either-or mentality. Black vs. white, Democrats vs. Republicans, kids who listen to dance-indie rock vs. kids who abandoned dance-indie rock to become faux metalheads. But we’re all the same, deep down inside. We’ve all got to wake up, drag a comb, slide into our pantaloons one leg at a time and get our dragging asses to jobs that, in all statistical likelihood, we can’t stand. It’s at this point in our days when we face the segregation that dares to speak its name pretty loudly, actually: two-wheelers vs. four-wheelers. If you normally drive a car to work, bike advocates implore you to consider, for this one arbitrary day a year, hopping on a bicycle and test driving the city’s new bike lanes as you pedal to work. Maybe, if you’re one of those super-aggressive four-wheelers, the experience will give you a little perspective on how the unmotorized half lives, or maybe you’ll just burn enough calories for an extra beer. Either way, it’s a win. -T.M.
For more information, visit bikeleague.org.
On his new sophomore release Schematic, Maryland-based Tom Lagana evinces taste and lucidity on solid-body and acoustic guitars. More important, he shows an impressive grasp of modern jazz in all its variance. Whether he’s burrowing into his original tunes or seeking new possibilities in Thelonious Monk’s “Evidence” and Bill Evans’ ghostly, seldom-played “Re: Person I Knew,” Lagana does the job with an agile lyricism and an occasionally revved-up tone. His best tracks feature guest tenor saxophonist George Garzone, who can calmly decimate most other horn players—truly one of jazz’s best-kept secrets. Happily, Lagana will have Garzone in Philly this week, along with bassist Tom Baldwin and drummer Todd Harrison. -David R. Adler
8pm and 10pm. $15. Chris’ Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom St. 215.568.3131. chrisjazzcafe.com
Saturday, May 22
Kinetic Sculpture Derby
“Hipster on bike” might be an exhausted meme, but one can never get tired of the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby—the annual event where green engineering, artistic ingenuity and the determined sweat of men and women run together on the streets of Kensington and Fishtown. The rules are simple, yet so tough: Create a sculpture/vehicle with wheels that’s human-powered (no motors, electricity, pushing, pulling, etc.), make it artsy, don a costume and ride that sucker along an obstacle-filled (hills! sand! mud!) three-mile route around the city to potentially prize-filled glory. Pilots have to be sober, but spectators certainly don’t—and won’t be, as derbies past have demonstrated—as they cheer the elaborate bicycle-based contraptions along to the finish line. “Mummers on wheels” doesn’t even begin to describe how over-the-top the festivities promise to be. -M.A.G.
A throwback to guitar-bending psychedelics like Hawkwind and Blue Cheer, Austin’s White Rhino lumbers like its cumbersome namesake over sluggish swamps of riff and rhythm. A bit of Texas glints through in slow, drone-fused boogies, and in bass-bumping blues vamps. Still mostly the trio blisters and pounds and squalls in a day-glo heavy rock world that is stranger, louder, hairier even, than the remotest corner of Austin. Leather-clad, long-haired, amp-damaging, rock ‘n' roll hasn’t sounded this good since ... well, the 1970s. -Jennifer Kelly
Ashly Meyers Dodgeball Tournament
When she was a physical/occupational therapy aide in the rehabilitation department of Cooper Health just across the river in South Jersey, Ashly Meyers’ favorite game to help patients regain their mobility and strength was a playground classic: dodgeball. Sadly, Meyers was killed by a drunk driver in February 2006, a tragedy that spurred New Jersey to declare December Drunk Driving Awareness Month. A year after her death, colleagues and friends started the Ashly Meyers Dodgeball Tournament in her honor, with proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This year’s fourth annual event at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken features a round-robin team tourney plus music, BBQ, a raffle and more. Time to brush up on those dodgeball rules—maybe even rent the so-terrible-it’s-kinda-good 2004 Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn flick—and swing on by for a very good cause. -M. A.G.
Liberty Belles: Women’s Tackle Football
With Eagles mania on life support, maybe it’s time for the fellas to step aside and let the ladies take a stab at it. Fittingly, semi-pro tackle football team the Liberty Belles, part of the Women’s Football Alliance, burst onto the scene in 2009 with guns blazing and an undefeated regular season. Such success can be attributed to the passion of players who can’t afford to be as complacent as some of their NFL counterparts. “We have lawyers, teachers, physical therapists, computer technicians,” says Sheemea Carr, a linebacker and senior program associate for a nonprofit. With several intense 3- to 4-hour practices a week, Carr explains, “We’re just as tough as any guy we might play.” The level of competition has won them converts, sponsors and a 4-0 start to the 2010 season. “A lot of people say women can’t play football,” says Carr. “But come and see us and we’ll change your mind.” Decide for yourself as the Belles take on the Southern Tier Spitfire. -Gerry Christopher Johnson
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Calendar: April 1-8