Last Firsts

Last month was fun.

Only problem is I was basking in the fun and excitement of the last Karaoke Obscura and the first and only Bangers and Mash art party at the M Room up in Northern Fishington. The latter isn’t as depressing, it’s always exciting to take a trip up north to the country side of town where the hipsters have attracted that unruly Old City crowd (haha! that’s what you get). Still, there’s almost too much to do in Northern Liberties anymore and it is quickly losing its ghetto charm.

A young lady, Amelia, who I met a while back, I don’t really remember how, was a part of an art exhibition thrown together by local artist whose name I can’t remember. The young lady had been a victim of an art show I put together last year of wearable art in the form of a fashion show, The Make-Up and The yeah yeah yeahs blasting obnoxiously out of the bar Glam, dripping with irony. There is something striking about Amelia. She’s fucking tall, fucking skinny, fucking well dressed and fucking blond. A gemini, she seems shy and boisterous all at once and I love her for it.

Like any good artist, she is shy about putting her work “out there” but her shit is good. She does found-object art, but not in the cheesy, trash-picking way. The elements of her pieces are all well-thought out and intricately linked together creating whimsical, cohesive, artistic structures. Pine cones, steel, metal, mirrors, screws, fabric, they are all woven together to create mysterious exercises for the eye that are jarring and beautiful. Hints of Jesus have been thrown in for good measure, whether sacrilegious or not, it stands out as a silent cry to an ever present God in all of our lives. Two pieces struck me in an awesome way. The first was a structure made out of cogs and screws that reminded me of an old coo-coo clock. Most of what Amelia worked with was painted over with bronze, gold, or silver paint, memorializing the pieces and creating a nostalgic feel. The second work that I loved was a medicine cabinet filled with pill bottles. It whispered a hint of contradiction – that of being empty and full at the same time. A safe haven, in a way.

On a bittersweet note, Karaoke Obscura went on hiatus. The last event went out with a bang at the so Philly so you bar known as 12 Steps Down in South Philly. For not long enough, the monthly series dedicated to indie, punk and alternative karaoke rocked even some of the most jaded hipsters who found out about it through word of mouth. The best part is that it was organized by a group of young, smarting (and yes, sexy) librarians, all of whom I have the pleasure of working with. The dingy, greasy atmosphere of 12 Steps Down served as a Utopian dais for the affair with it’s obscure artifacts hung on the wall, it’s circa 70’s decor juxtaposed with modern art fixtures and a big dirty pool table next to the bar. And you can still smoke in there.

Skinny jeans, vintage t-shirt and American Apparel-clad bois and grrls wailed drunkenly the likes of Belle & Sebastian, Weezer, Patti Smith, The Pogues, The Gossip, Built to Spill, Le Tigre et al. Add a great beer selection at good prices (including the cheap Philly staple known as PBR) and quasi delicious fried food, an adroit bartender, and you’ve got a raging karaoke extravaganza!

Soon, I hope, my dear friends will bring back what the original Karaoke Obscura set off to do: give cool, arty, non-pretentious hard asses a place to make fun of themselves without the hassle of losers in The North Face jackets.

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