Category Archives: Philadelphia

Don Quixote Reviewed

Don Quixote is nuts! The best character in this play is a puppet – Rocinante who is really a large rickety tricycle with an expressive donkey head on it. His creator is Emily Decola. There are homeless people playing some of the parts. One of the best things is the band – a gypsy punk band called the Psalters – that plays loud gypsy instruments on the balcony. Don Quixote is completely out of his mind as he rescues prostitutes from their johns, causing immense pain to himself and Sancho. He attacks a windmill that he thinks is a giant. This is extraordinarily well done, and they feed you afterwards. The theater is the back of a beautiful Presbeterian Church that has seen better days. It looked like the room must once-upon-a-time been a beautiful chapel, but now is mainly used to store stuff.  I sat on the balcony on an old pew. I had an excellent view of the gypsy punk band. The director, Lear Debessonet is world famous. She got written up in the New York Times. She only does plays in places like this.

This is better than anything that you could see across the street and its only $15 and includes dinner, which I ate with the director’s uncle and aunt.


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Filed under Art, Don Quixote, Lear Debessonet, music, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Theater

Don Quixote in Philadelphia

This looked interesting…
Broad Street Ministry and Stillpoint Productions Create Exciting Reimaging of a Classic Work with
Opening Night—May 26th!
Tickets cost $15
Student/Senior Discounts available
For Tickets call:  1 800. 838. 3006
Or visit:
With an intrepid ensemble of four professional actors and 30 non-professional community members spanning the broad cross section typical of Broad Street Ministry  (professionals, people suffering from homelessness, activists), director Lear deBessonet creates a compelling reinterpretation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote.  Set in a richly imagined anachronistic world where 16th Century Spain meets center city Philadelphia, featuring puppets by Emily Decola and original music by gypsy-punk band The Psalters, Quixote asks the question, is it insane to believe in a more just world?
Part muse, part fantastical setting, and part laboratory–the Broad Street Ministry community provides Quixote a community context.  And not just any context–a place where social justice is practiced rather than given lip-service and the power structures of society hold little sway.  Quixote is saturated with the community’s motivations–it lives inside Broad Street Ministry’s commitments to transform their corner of the city–it is made special by the peculiar genius/madness of its communal character.
Thursday May 21- 7pm
Friday May 22- 7pm
Saturday May 23- 7pm
Monday, May 25- 7pm
Wednesday, May 27- 7pm
Friday, May 29- 7pm
Saturday, May 30- 3pm AND 7pm
Tuesday, June 2- 7pm
Wednesday, June 3- 7pm
Thursday, June 4- 7pm
Friday, June 5- 7pm
Saturday, June 6- 7pm
Sunday, June 7- 3pm

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Filed under Philadelphia, Popular Culture

Makoto Fujimura in Philadelphia

Gretchen and I are planning to go to the opening reception of the art of Makoto Fugimuro this Friday. The White Stone Gallery is located in the Manayunk area of Philadelphia. I will venture forth using public transportation from downtown Philly, while Gretchen will drive in from West Chester.

From the artist’s blog (which is a beautiful blog!):

Makoto Fujimura Solo Exhibit, Olana-Psalms of Ascent will open at White Stone Gallery in Philadelphia
April 3- June 21st, 2009

Opening Reception: Friday, April 17, 7-9 pm

I will be exhibiting devotional works never before exhibited, such as the “Olana – Matthew Six” piece shown above.

Special Offer: I have prepared special, handmade bookmarks to be available as a gift, only to those who purchase Refractions: a journey of art, faith and culture at the gallery!

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Filed under Art, Christianity, Philadelphia

Execute Art, Not People in Philadelphia on Good Friday


@ Broad Street Ministry
315 South Broad Street b/t Spruce and Pine
6:00pm -8:00pm
“”EXECUTE ART, NOT PEOPLE”” is a unique way to remember the death of Jesus on the cross at the hands of his government. BSM will gather Philadelphia to hear from two former death row inmates, Shujaa Graham and Darby Tillis who were exonerated by DNA evidence, will be speaking about their personal stories and reflections on the penal system/death penalty. There will be music, art, conversation, and ways to get involved in this issue that makes our society more brutal and less just.
The event is a collaboration of Pennsylvanians Against the Death Penalty (PADP), Broadstreet Ministry (BSM), and Witness to Innocence (WTI).
We want different artists to showcase their vision for a different society, a different world, beginning in Philadelphia.

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BiPlane Rides Over Philadelphia

A great gift for anybody! A ride on The Cannibal Queen, a famous open cockpit World War II Stearman biplane. You must be over 10 years old and weigh less than 350 lbs. Stearman is what Boeing was called before it was Boeing – in the thirties and early 40s. They made this plane in 1942. Rides cost $179 for a half hour ride over Philadelphia.  So put on your goggles and go on a ride! (Note: my birthday is coming up. This also might be a good present for Elizabeth).


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RIP: John P. Prior – Heroic Healer and writer

Major John P. Prior, 42,  from Philadelphia, was killed on Christmas day in Iraq by enemy fire. He leaves behind a wife and three children. He is a medical hero. Before he went to Iraq with the Army Reserves – he was the the dedicated leader of the University of Pennsylvania trauma team. He wrote elequently about about his experiences in both Baghdad and Philadelphia. I found one of his stories here.

Here are some quotes:

In the swirl of screams and moving figures, my mind drifted to my recent experience in Iraq as an Army surgeon. There we dealt regularly with “mascals,” or mass-casualty situations. In Iraq, ironically, I found myself drawing on my experience as a civilian trauma surgeon each time mascals would overrun the combat hospital. As nine or 10 patients from a firefight rolled in, I sometimes caught myself saying “just like another Friday night in West Philadelphia.”

The wounds and nationalities of the patients are different, but the feelings of helplessness, despair and loss are the same. In Iraq, soldiers die for freedom, for honor, for their country and for their buddies. Here in Philadelphia, they die without honor, without purpose, for no country, for no one.

More young men are killed each day on the streets of America than on the worst days of carnage and loss in Iraq. There is a war at home raging every day, filling our trauma centers with so many wounded children that it sometimes makes Baghdad seem like a quiet city in Iowa.

He also writes about the “Lex Street Massacre” where 10 people were lined up against a wall and shot execution style in Philadelphia.  It was not covered in the newspapers because of our “double standard” and “triage of campassion and empathy” so “the war on the streets of America continues unabated”.

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Filed under Iraq, Philadelphia, RIP

Free Author Event in Philadelphia this Thursday


Stephen Pimpare

author of A People’s History of Poverty in America ($27.95 New Press)

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Thursday, November 13 – 7pm – Special Event at the Broad Street Ministry, 320 S. Broad Street

A sweeping, revelatory history of poverty in America from the nineteenth century to today, told through the eyes and experiences of the poor themselves. “When you live in a shelter, other people control your life. They tell you when you may come in and when you must go out. They tell you when you can take your shower and when you can wash your clothing.” – from A People’s History of Poverty and Welfare in America In this compulsively readable social history, a brilliant new addition to The New Press’s acclaimed People’s History series, political scientist Stephen Pimpare vividly describes poverty from the perspective of poor and welfare-reliant Americans from the big city to the rural countryside. He focuses on how the poor have created community, secured shelter, and found food and illuminates their battles for dignity and respect. Through prodigious archival research and lucid analysis, Pimpare details the ways in which charity and aid for the poor have been inseparable, more often than not, from the scorn and disapproval of those who would help them. In the rich and often surprising historical testimonies he has collected from the poor in America, Pimpare overturns any simple conclusions about how the poor see themselves or what it feels like to be poor–and he shows clearly that the poor are all too often aware that charity comes with a price. It is that price that Pimpare eloquently questions in this book, reminding us through powerful anecdotes, some heart-wrenching and some surprisingly humorous, that poverty is not simply a moral failure.

Stephen Pimpare is the author of The New Victorians: Poverty, Politics, and Propaganda in Two Gilded Ages. He teaches American politics and social welfare policy at Yeshiva College and the Wurzweiler School of Social Work.

A People’s History of Poverty in America (New Press People’s Histories)

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Filed under books, history, News, Philadelphia, politics