Would you bring your kids to a holiday craft fair boasting over a folk-rock super group and free beer? It may sound like an event targeted at a different crowd, but Philadelphia Independent Craft Market founder Julie Raboczi says to bring the kids to this year’s Famous Holiday Show at York Street’s 2424 Studios.Raboczi, 39, is a parent herself. She’s married with three kids aged 11, 15 and 18. Her main gig is bartending at The Fire on 4th and Girard and she’s not just there to earn a few bucks. She’s the kind of beloved city bartender people check on just to make sure she’s holding up after hearing about an illness in her family. She remembers patrons names and jokes with them, calling them “patients” and telling them to take two shots of whisky and call her in the morning.But her passion is in crafting. Personally, Raboczi makes handmade jewelry, silk screens on wood and vintage-style Afghans. She can be seen at almost of the city’s many D-I-Y (that’s do-it-yourself) events: Art Star, The Punk Rock Flea Market, Northern Liberties’s Phreak N’ Queer Festival, etc. There are currently enough craft fairs in Philadelphia to keep shoppers busy every month. That’s not how it always was.“At the time when I started it was to fill a void for indie music and art,” Roboczi explains. “I felt like there weren’t any opportunities at the time. Now, the city is flourishing with opportunities. There’re shows every weekend now and indie venues too, but I still feel like [The Philadelphia Independent Craft Market’s Famous Holiday Show]has it’s own unique vibe and something I want to hold onto every year.”When asked if she thinks handing out free beers will drive parents away, Raboczi shakes her head.“Who needs beer more than parents,” she shrugs, smiling coyly. Thinking for a moment, she expounds.“No, this is Fishtown, who doesn’t want to shop and have a beer at the same time? It’s the anti-mall, I’m creating the anti-mall experience where your kid doesn’t just have their hand out the whole time. You get to relax and be inspired and listen to music. It’s got a very diverse crowd and it builds community. And beer always makes everything better.”Two local folk music heroes, Hezekiah Jones and The Spinning Leaves, will be joining forces for a rare performance of their collaborative album “Hezekiah Leaves and the Spinning Joneses.” Raboczi met Spinning Leaves singer Michael Baker five years ago at that year’s Famous Holiday Show. Since then, The Spinning Leaves have built a national following. Sisters 3, The Great Unkown, and Levee Drivers will also be performing.Booking bands, scheduling spaces, collecting table fees, contacting sponsors and promoting the show is enough work to keep a whole team busy. Raboczi doesn’t have a whole team, just a few reliable friends and some loyal children.“There’s always one of my kids helping out at the door,” she boasts.The increase in craft markets (and groups like R5 productions who host the popular Punk Rock Flea Market) hasn’t deterred her.“I sold at the Punk Rock Flea Market for seven years almost every singe one. It’s an inspiration. I strive for my show to be more comfortable. Once people have had the anti-mall experience, they’re more willing to give it a chance and continue with it. It all helps with each other. It’s a more satisfying and meaningful shopping experience. This is how we’re supposed to be spending our money: helping each other. It’s so much nicer to buy something from the person who made it.”The Philadelphia Independent Craft Market’s Famous Holiday Show starts at 1:00 p.m. on December 17, 2011 at 2424 Studios, 2424 York Street. A small donation is requested.
Danielle Kirby is spending her time off this year giving back.
By William Kekevian
With children old enough to take care of themselves and some-well earned time off from work, Danielle Kirby could have spent her vacation anywhere.
But what’s surprised her friends and family was her decision to spend it working in an earthquake-ravaged, third-world nation.
Kirby, a 36-year-old nurse living in Cinnaminson, will leave Saturday and spend eight days tagging along with Samaritan Purse, an international Christian relief organization, on a mission to Haiti. There, she’ll be volunteering as both a nurse and an educator.
“There’s a lot of sexually transmitted diseases, there’s malaria, typhoid, education comes along with the treatment,” Kirby said.
Kirby has spent the last 20 years raising her two children. She met her future husband when she was only 12 years old. At 16, she became a young mother and quickly learned to become a caretaker. She’s dedicated her youth to making her family life work and she’s been a success.
She’s employed at Kennedy Health System in Cherry Hill. Her son Chris, 17, is a receiver for Cinnaminson High School’s football team and her daughter Eboney, 20, is planning a family of her own.
“People ask me all the time, ‘Why are you going to Haiti?’ It’s not that it’s not in my character,” she explained. “I had my children very young. Now that I’m older, I’m able to reconnect with myself and who I always was.”
She goes on to say she’s always put her family first, but now her children are becoming adults, she’s exploring a passion that was dormant.
“I think the less fortunate can teach me something about myself. I hope to teach myself, I hope this opens my eyes,” she said. “Maybe I’ll just look at life in a different way and appreciate what I have. Be less materialistic. But it’s not about me. I want to teach and give others what I can.”
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook the small island nation of Haiti in January 2010. Kirby says her first reaction was to reach out. She called the Red Cross and offered any assistance she could, but encountered too much red tape. But when a fellow nurse told her about an opportunity to leave with a mission, she signed up right away.
“I became a nurse three years ago to help people and travel the world,” Kirby said.
Although she’s never even been out of the country before, she’s no stranger to overcoming adversity. She recalls a particularly emotional incident at a PTA meeting.
The other parents, all older than she, would make her feel ostracized, she said. She didn’t finish high school and says she felt other parents’ judgmental stares and tongue-clicking.
“That made me more determined than anything else,” she says, “I was never going to let anyone make me feel stupid again.”
She says when it came time to talk to her children about going to college, she wanted to set an example. She decided to go back herself.
“Going back to school was very frightening for me. I struggled in math. I didn’t even think I was going to be able to complete nursing school,” she said.
Kirby’s plot to set an example is working too. Not only are her kids taking college seriously, but they’re following her path toward volunteerism. They’ll both be joining her to volunteer at a soup kitchen.
“At first my son was totally against it,” she said, but eventually he too found satisfaction in giving back.
Eight days in the slums of Haiti are bound to be fraught with dangers, but Kirby’s already overcome so much. She’s even planning her next ‘vacation’ and she’s still not rewarding herself.
“Next year [Sumaritan Purse] is going to Africa,” she said. “I want to go too.”
A Rutgers student is getting national attention for his on- and off-screen creations.
By William Kekevian
Daniel Cattell, 23, was never an art student. So, the recent acclaim he’s received as an artist and designer may confuse some.
While most artists struggle through competitive high school art shows and fight for attention on college campuses, Cattell, who lives in Cinnaminson, came to art from two backgrounds one might not expect: science and video games.
In fact, Cattell attributes a lot to video games. He’s a lover of biology, humanism, engineering and education, but it wasn’t always that way.
“I was terrible at math when I was younger,” Cattell says, relating stories of struggling through school in general. “But games like Pokémon really helped me develop.”
While Pokémon isn’t a game designed to teach math to children, Cattell says it “covertly” helped him understand mathematic concepts. He’s not alone. There is a blogging community across the Web praising Pokémon and, another of Cattell’s inspirations, the television program Mythbusters for turning them onto science and math. Cattell is starting to make a name for himself in this community. He’s been interviewed across the blogosphere and, now, in Nintendo Power magazine for his costume designs.
Cattell debuted his costumes at the 2010 Otakon, a convention in Baltimore celebrating Japanese gaming and other aspects of Asian pop culture. They’re wearable cardboard cutouts with classic 8-bit characters from games like Metroid printed on them.
“You’re sort of sandwiched in between two pieces of cardboard,” Cattell says.
The effect has the strange impact of making it appear as though a pixilated, life-sized video game character stepped outside of an old Nintendo Gameboy and began lumbering around the real world. They satisfy both the sentimental kitsch of the generations who grew up playing Nintendo games and a unique artistic illusion. Cattell says the sight even baffles many, even some professionals.
“At conventions, when people see them, they’re sort of confused, sometimes people don’t realize there’s a person inside,” Cattell explains, “Then they see it move and they’re trying to figure out how it’s moving.”
When he shows pictures of his work online, Cattell says “even professional photographers think they’re faked. I think that’s an indication they’re made well.”
Destructoid, a website focused on all things videogames, call these costumes “the most authentic translation of the characters as they appear in-game.”
While the costumes grabbed the attention of national gaming media, Cattell’s star has only just begun to rise (or, power up). A senior at Rutgers-Camden, Cattell studies computer animation from a man he calls an inspiration, Professor LiQin Tan. It’s the skills he’s learning there that help him move toward his real goal: video game design.
“A lot of [the gaming community] are starting to hear about me through my costumes. My long-term goal is to do video game design. In the meantime I’d be satisfied doing educational films or CGI,” Cattell says. “I thought you’d have to have experience with [video game design] your whole life, but I picked it up pretty quick.”
Cattell’s prospects are even bigger than that, though. The games he envisions aren’t just for entertainment: He wants to use entertainment to do what Mythbusters and Pokémon did for him: educate, covertly. Cattell considers using entertainment to foster an interest science, engineering and math as “planting the seed.”
“I normally try to work from a concept. I think the most creative aspect of my art is the root of the idea. With art, you try to get a point across. You have to have a message. Normally I try to go for education. That’s why I got into game design. I couldn’t do biology. This is a good way to reach people.”
To that end, Cattell is ambitiously spending time working on a number of different projects. In addition to the costume designs, and focusing on graduation, he’s working on a film for which he’s both acting and creating an animated character. He’s designed a patch for a quilt that was displayed at the Nintendo World Store in New York. He’s applying for a research grant and working on a complicated video game concept that, he says, exploits issues of control.
“I think it’ll give me a bit of notability as far as game design goes,” he says.
Chris Kasper hasn’t traded in his low-key melodic folk style quite yet, but with his new release “The First Hundred Years Are The Hardest,” he’s, in his words, ‘changed the frame.’ To paraphrase a song off his 2006 release “FlyingBoy,” he’s a bit older and maybe a bit wiser. He definitely seems to be having a bit more fun. He’s traded acoustic ballads examining the mysteries of love for brighter melodies, more complex instrumentation and lyrics bordering on the psychedelic. Maybe Kasper is too close to his process to see “Hundred Years” as a departure, but for those who’ve listened to his previous offerings, it’s hard not to see this album as a growth spurt. Philly Venues spoke with Kasper about his new release.
Philly Venues: What would you say sets your new album, “The First Hundred Years Are The Hardest,” apart from your previous recordings? How do you continue to challenge yourself?
Chris Kasper: I think the frame is different. Like if “FlyingBoy” was a hand-drawn frame, and “Chasing Another Sundown” was a gold and silver frame, this one feels almost like a frameless canvas or a hand-built frame made out of found materials. The sounds were layered instead of recorded live, which gives it more chances for experimentation. I challenge my personal growth more than my music. My music just comes through me, I don’t really go for a challenge, in fact, if something is not flowing easily, I usually abandon it.
PV: What’s changed in your life, since your last recording? Anything that’s really influenced you?
CK: Since recording “Chasing Another Sundown” in ’09, I moved to Ventnor City, N.J. and lived at the shore for a year and a half with my dog. The beach in the winter is very desolate and beautiful and a great place to be alone. I taught myself to cook and had a piano to play. I could also play through all hours of the night, because there were no neighbors, just the ocean. I was reading a lot of Italo Calvino and Jack London, listening to a ton of Tom Waits and driving an hour and a half to Philly 2-3 times a week. Those long straight drives were great place to listen to and conjure up ideas. I had a little tape recorder I kept, and still keep, in the car. All of these things led to the inception of the basement demo that ultimately became “The First Hundred Years are the Hardest”
PV: It seems like a lot of Philly musicians want to work with or share a bill with Chris Kasper. Who have you been collaborating with for this record?
CK: Wow, well, I want to share bills with a lot of Philly musicians as well! For this record, I only collaborated with Andrew Lipke. He has amazing musical abilities, great ideas, and is super easy to get along with. That and I’ve always admired his larger than life approach to his own material. I ran in to him randomly during some show at the Fire, and he showed me pictures of the new studio he built in his basement. I recently heard some stuff he produced for our mutual friend Hezekiah Jones and it clicked, this is the guy I need to work with. I showed him the demo I had of the record and he brought it to life: larger than life.
PV: You fall into the Philly folk category, but do you ever find that limiting? Some songs of yours, like the blown-out blues stomp “Reason To Believe,” completely toss off the shackles of being labeled a ‘folk singer.’
CK: Not really. Not for me anyway. It doesn’t really matter what people categorize me as. I just do what I do. I love all music, everything from the precious and beautiful to the trashy and fierce and would never limit myself to a genre. I want to incorporate all of it as much as my ability will allow and if I can blow out a blues tune or make some circus music, that’s what I’m gonna do. Folk is a strange term, it’s usually associated with light guitar and political poetry, like Peter Paul and Mary, or early Dylan, but I have come to realize it’s much broader than that. Taj Mahal said it best, something along the lines of, ‘Folk music is music for folks, so that means, it’s ALL folk’s music.’ The ‘folk’ scene in Philly really lives up to this statement. I mean, check out the Philly Folk Fest! The last two headliners were Derek Trucks and Levon Helm; blues/New Orleans style rockers.
PV: The level of attention you get in the Philly folk scene is something to be envied and is, I think, envied by many. But any artist knows there’s always a next level to aspire to. While there are up-and-coming songwriters trying to get as much attention as you get, what do you envy? Where do you think your music career should be by now?
CK: Well, that’s pretty flattering, but I don’t see anything I do or the attention I get something to be “envied.” I work hard at what I do and will continue to. I also don’t see it as ‘levels,’ I’m just working hard to be the best I can be, doing my thing. I envy folks like Gene Shay and Levon Helm who stay true to what it is they like to do and keep doing it, well into their older years. They never ‘arrived’ anywhere, they just keep on keeping on and in doing so, become the best at what they do and influence those who chose to recognize. I think my career is right where it’s supposed to be. I’ll always want more, but I feel that if, say, I had broke with a hit single when I was in college or something, I would have been a very different person with very different music. This is the way it’s working, and I’m not going to fight it or wish I was something different but I’ll always want to take it somewhere else.
PV: Are you still listening to new albums? What’s come out recently that you’ve really enjoyed?
CK: I love the new Tom Waits, Black Keys, and Feist. Those are my top three. They can do no wrong in my eyes (ears). But this is an interesting question because, for the most part, I don’t really grab hold of too much new stuff, not sure why? A lot of new stuff sounds generic or lazy to me, even if it’s technically good. I crave originality, but not weird for the sake of weird. It has to be rooted in something pure for me to dig on it.
PV: Is there a venue in Philly where you really feel most at home or, maybe, comfortable debuting new songs?
CK: Over the years my favored venues have changed. Started with the Dawson St. in Manayunk where I would always debut new stuff and do weekend shows. Then moved to The Fire to do month long residencies when more people started showing up. After that, the Tin Angel was my go-to venue and nowadays I’m loving the downstairs room at the World Cafe Live. I debuted the entire new record down there and felt right at home. However, when I’m working out kinks in new material, or just to see how an small audience reacts, I like to go to Fergies Pub or the Dawson St Pub.
PV: Listening to your music I hear influences like Nick Drake, James Taylor, Paul Simon, and Elliott Smith. Are there any major influences on your songwriting that, maybe, people wouldn’t expect?
CK: Hmm, I love so much random stuff. Tom Waits, Jerry Garcia, Townes Van Zandt, Lightning Hopkins, Van Morrison, early Coldplay really hit me hard, and that Rufus Wainwright record “Want 1”, Be Good Tanyas, Billy Bragg/Wilco (Mermaid Avenue), Will Oldham, The Band, this list will go on and on….
PV: What’s next for you? Are you touring?
CK: Oh man, so much happening. Tour plans are currently in the works for late winter all through the spring. I’ve been working with Philadelphonic Management and we have our sights set on college radio and opening for national acts throughout 2012. Andrew Lipke, Hezekiah Jones, and myself are dabbling in a collaboration, a ‘folk opera’ of sorts, expanding on the characters of Hezekiah Jones’ songs. I’m also finishing a series of videos for this record and started demoing material for my next record. I’m playing drums for a garage rock band, The Doublewides, and we have a completed EP we’re waiting to release. My longer-term goals are to finish a book of poetry that’s been in the works for several years and do a country-folk record with local fiddler Kiley Ryan. I also want to get a bike and rescue a dog from the pound.
- Billy Kekevian (Philly Venues Contributor)
Every city wants its own version of Austin, Texas’s South By Southwest Festival, but in Philadelphia, it only took a few ambitious individuals to bring this city closer to that goal. Village Green Productions, a small Philly-based booking company, got the ball rolling with The 2nd Annual Philadelphia Film And Music Festival. The festival will take place at venues throughout the city from Thursday September 22nd to Sunday September 25th.
A sketch group with roots in Cinnminson turns culture shock into comedy.
Since 2006, Eric Balchunas, Augustus Milligan, Jeff Soles, Tony Mahon, Alexandra Mahon, Dan Plunkett, Mala Wright, Bonnie Quick and Amanda Strand have worked together to deliver good-natured jabs at the Philadelphia/South Jersey region in the form of humor.
The group makes up the sketch comedy troupe I’d Rather Be Here. This will be their fifth year performing as part of the Philly Fringe Festival, a citywide live arts showcase. However, the group’s roots are right here in Cinnaminson.
They honor those roots, branding the show Wawapalooza after the local convenience store chain, as well as mock them, taking aim at everyone from conceited hipsters to ape-like sports fanatics. Their website hosts several video clips, but their true calling is the live performance.
Co-founder Eric Balchunas spoke with Cinnaminson Patch.
Cinnaminson Patch: How and when did the group first get together?
Eric Balchunas: We started in the dead of winter 2006 in a condo in a complex near a lake down by a Wawa. Basically, I moved back to South Jersey from New York City and started journaling about the reverse culture shock I was going through with Eagles fans, road rage, Wawas, etc. I also reconnected with some old friends, including Gus (Milligan), who I met back in the ’80s at Cinnaminson Middle School. We wrote the first show, then posted an ad on Craigslist for the rest of the actors. Six years later it’s the same cast.
CP: Since the formation of the group, you’ve logged a lot of stage hours. Has being on stage changed the way you understand comedy?
EB: Totally. We have learned to keep things moving fast, shorter sketches, faster transitions and short shows (60-70min). Also, we have learned to focus on customer service, meaning making the experience comfortable for the audience through air conditioning, free beer and getting them to sit close together as laughter is contagious. We tried to design a theater show that would appeal to people who hate going to the theater.
CP: I’d Rather Be Here is a curious name. What are the origins of it?
EB: It started out as an idea for a bumper sticker to work against all the ones that say I’d Rather Be Golfing/Fishing. I just felt it was something to strive for—where you actually want to be in the place you are. I was also reading a lot of Eastern philosophy at the time. In the end it worked out as a good name since have a lot of local material in our shows.
CP: You and some other members are from Cinnaminson. Are any of your characters or sketches based on Cinnaminson people or places? An old teacher? A local eccentric?
EB: Absolutely. There are a lot of characters in Cinnaminson and South Jersey in general that influence the writing. One sketch is literally based in a Cinnaminson Wawa, where a guy runs into his high school ex, who has since moved away while he has stayed here. On paper she seems successful and worldly and he’s a loser, but in reality it’s the opposite. Much of their conversation is recounting drinking Natural Light in the woods listening to Jovi—things everyone in Cinnaminson did back in the day.
CP: A lot of your characters seem to have a brash Philly bravado. I’m particularly thinking of the sketch featuring a Philly sports fan who held a press conference to apologize for being over-the-top, only to resort to name calling and threats of absurd violence or the campfire sing-along member who feels compelled to add swears to the verses of classic rock tunes. Where are these characters coming from? Are members of your troupe a little bit like these people? Are you scouting the stands at Citizens Bank Park for potential characters?
EB: Both. I love to write about the clashing of cultures, like a crazed Eagles fan dealing with a psychiatrist, or a hipster campfire sing-along getting upended by a rude, but fun loud mouth kind of guy. I think it’s because I have friends in both worlds and I feel like I have a foot in each, so it’s good place to write from.
CP: What is Wawapalooza and what can audiences expect from this year’s show?
EB: Basically you come to a show, you get handed a drink, have a seat and enjoy a pre-show local art exhibit. Then, the live show starts and you watch mix of short sketches and films that are poking fun at local culture such as Phillies fans, Walmart, road rage, the Apple Store, new parents, college kids, marriage and Facebook. Then, 65 minutes later it’s over, and you have the rest of the night to enjoy Philly or get dinner or drinks.
CP: Several comedy troupes from Philly and New York have been picked up to film potential TV pilots. Is that a part of your goal?
EB: Not really, I’m married and have a new baby and I like my day job and I think many others in cast are in same boat and are happy doing this part-time. This also takes all pressure off and allows us to have fun and just do it for the sake of doing it with no end in mind. I think this is why the original cast has lasted all these years—we don’t overdo it or have any visions of grandeur.
CP: A lot of comedians point to HBO’s Mr. Show or The Kids In The Hall as major influences. Are there comedic influences on I’d Rather Be Here we might not expect?
EB: Besides those, MTV’s The State from the ’90s was amazing. Also, the new show Portlandia on IFC. But, much of the core of our influence comes from Saturday Night Live in the late ’80s, watching Dana Carvey, Mike Myers and Phil Hartman. Gus and I used to tape those SNL episodes and watch them over and over after a rough day at Cinnaminson Middle School.
CP: How do you get ready for shows?
EB: I would to love to say something interesting, but really I just try to take a nap and eat pasta. Same way I used to get ready for JV basketball games. Old school.
CP: Who would you most like to come see your show?
EB: I especially would like to offer our show up as an alternative to the typical theater experience. What other show has Wawa and Route 70 references and sketches about both relationships and sports? It’s theater that bothmen and women can enjoy.
I’d Rather Be Here will be playing the Society Hill Playhouse at 507 South 8th St. in Philadelphia on Friday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Sept. 17. Both shows start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased via the Live Arts and Philly Friend Box Office or by calling 856-296-8489. See livearts-fringe.org or idratherbehere.com/wawa5.
Animal Hospital Builds Room for Acupuncture Cinnaminson vet created a space for an unusual treatment that’s been giving some pets their “puppy” back.
By William Kekevian
Peetie hobbles into her doctor’s office in Cinnaminson, happy to see an old friend and to get some relief for her arthritis pain. She lies down in a room painted in earth tones.
A miniature Buddha statue sits on a shelf in the corner while a bamboo divider occupies the opposite wall. It’s a different kind of examination room, for sure, but it’s also a different kind of treatment.
Today, she’ll be getting acupuncture, an unusual treatment for most people, but even more so for Peetie, considering she’s a dog.
Dr. Robyn Steiner, of the Cinnaminson Animal Hospital, opened the quaint holistic wing of her practice just last week, and 14-year-old mixbreed Peetie had the honor of being the first patient in the new room. Steiner’s been a veterinarian for 18 years, but for the last eight, Steiner’s interests have turned to the Far East.
“It’s really a Western practice here,” Steiner said of the animal hospital, “This is an offshoot of other things in my life, like my yoga classes.”
Although the addition of the acupuncture room is new, Steiner’s been practicing acupuncture on animals for years. Steiner believes in the treatment so strongly, she, along with hospital manager Chrissy Devine (and some help from Devine’s husband), designed and built the addition out of the former employees’ lounge. The new room’s features are less sterile than the typical examination room. Hardwood floors and a warm atmosphere dampen harsh florescent lighting, unlike the typical stark white of the other rooms.
Steiner admits there aren’t a lot of studies to back up holistic treatments like acupuncture, but Peetie’s reaction has convinced her owner, Sarah Beers.
“Peetie’s a family member,” Steiner said. “It was sad for them to see her losing her mobility.”
Beers, who is also a mother of three human children, says the family was facing the decision to put Peetie down before she found out about Steiner’s acupuncture treatments. Beers’ youngest son, who is 9, never saw Peetie’s playful puppy days, but after an acupuncture treatment, Beers reports the two playing together with unprecedented energy.
“One of the first things I noticed was that she was able to tuck her legs under again,” said Beers.
As Peetie receives her treatment, her hind legs are sprawled out behind her. With the treatment, Beers said, she’s good for about a month before she starts to show her age again.
“Acupuncture has really given her some of her ‘puppy’ back,” she said. “She wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for acupuncture.”
As the doctor begins to gently slide a series of very fine needles into Peetie’s body, Devine helps distract the animal with treats and attention.
Dr. Steiner slips the first needle into Peetie’s head, explaining that this is a “permission needle” that prepares the body for the dozens to come.
“Most of the patients that have come to me are more of the geriatric type,” Steiner said. “They need muscle and skeleton support.”
Acupuncture treatment is based around ancient, metaphysical Chinese theories involving the “qi,” an energy that balances the yin and the yang, flowing through various “meridians” throughout the body. The treatments are supposed to restore a balance that’s been lost.
Steiner talks a lot about these “meridians,” pointing out that, with Peetie, she focuses the water meridian. If all this seems a little hocus-pocus, there’s at least value in the results.
“I noticed an immediate difference even after the first treatment,” Beers reports.
Even as they leave the office, Peetie shows noticeable signs of curiosity as she frolics through a patch of grass behind the building.
Steiner also performs the treatment on cats, but admits they’re a little less agreeable.
Later, Steiner will perform a similar acupuncture treatment on a dachshund whose slipped disc may land him in a cart. After a few treatments, that dog’s begun wagging his tail again.
Duck Boat Captain Makes A Splash
A tour guide for an unusual company, Norman Schultz will make a stop in Cinnaminson Wednesday.
By William Kekevian
August 30, 2011
Ask duck boat Master Captain Norman Schultz how he’s doing and, without missing a beat, the six-year veteran of the Philadelphia amphibious tour vehicle company says, “I’m quack-tacular!”
If you’re already groaning, you may just be Schultz’s kind of audience.
“The groans are like music to me,” he says.
It’s a good thing, too because with an arsenal of fowl puns on his bill, he hears boos and the taunts of duck whistles all day long. Still, he boasts of his “cringe-worthy” performance.
“I was cursed with that (puns), it runs in the family. We’re Irish, we’re very punny,” he says.
The Ride The Ducks tours, which have been operating in Philadelphia since 2003, take a WWII-style duck boat for an hour-long drive around the historic district of Philadelphia concluding in a 10-minute dip into the Delaware River. Although the tour is educational, Schultz knows what makes a splash with younger riders.
“For me it’s an opportunity to tell a story about the people,” he says. “I want people to learn by accident.”
For Schultz, 46, learning “by accident” is a recurring theme. In 2005, he was diagnosed with cancer in his salivatory gland. Divorced and estranged from his hometown of Baltimore, and living in Cherry Hill, it’s an understatement to say he was down and out. But, ever optimistic, Schultz made some life decisions.
“When you go through something like that,” he says, “you say ‘I’m going to do fun things for the rest of my life.’
Having grown up near the Baltimore Harbor, he had earned his sea legs early in life. Cousins who had boats surrounded him, but it was his love of the stage, rather than the sea, that originally drew him to the Ride The Ducks Company.
In the spirit of ‘doing fun things,’ Schultz, now free of cancer, began acting with a Philadelphia comedy troupe called Comic Energy. That’s when he saw an ad in the Theater Alliance for duck boat tour guides. Flashing back a decade, Schultz had actually taken a duck boat tour while living briefly in Pittsburgh.
“I remember thinking it was pretty good. But it could be so much more entertaining. Little did I dream of operating one,” Schultz recalls.
He passed the audition and quickly worked his way up the ranks to captain. He’d even been tapped to train future captains and impart some of his showbiz savvy glitz. Schultz says of this time that he’d fallen in love with the history of Philadelphia, but that wasn’t his only new love. His personal life began to turn around, too. He remarried, became a stepfather to three and moved to his current home in Moorestown.
“I knew on the first date we were going to get married.” he says of meeting his wife. “Within 41 days of our first date, we were married.”
But last year, tragedy struck when a tugboat plowed into one of Philly’s Ride The Ducks tours killing two passengers. Schultz was watching the tragedy unfold from home.
“I wasn’t working that day,” he says. “It was frustrating for me. We run at 4 knots, that’s creeping. It’s very slow. There’s no way we dodged in front of a barge.”
Still, the duck boats were slaughtered in the press.
“I knew immediately no one was talking to an expert,” Schultz says of the disappointing coverage of the accident.
The way Schultz tells it, the duck boat had overheated, a common occurrence that doesn’t pose a threat to passengers. Marooned on the edge of the Delaware, the duck boat waited for a tow back to land and, following procedure, radioed surrounding water traffic. But, one tugboat operator was distracted and had turned off his radio, left his post and was using his cell phone and laptop, according to reports.
This month, that tugboat operator, Matthew Devlin, of New York, pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct of a ship operator causing death. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 11 and faces a possible 10-year term.
Following the accident the Philly’s Ride The Ducks tours closed for what turned out to be nine months. Schultz was unhappy with the media coverage of the accident and the time off. That’s when a friend stepped in and encouraged him to return to acting. A few headshots and tryouts later and Schultz was appearing on television shows like Celebrity Ghost Stories and Law & Order and feature films like Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Transformers.
While he was enjoying his new career, Ride The Ducks was preparing to reopen and it was Schultz they wanted to represent them for what they hoped would be a triumphant return.
“They knew I’d be the person who was a little more media savvy and wouldn’t buckle because I was a performer,” Schultz says.
Schultz charmed the media with his corny uncle routine and the tours have been running smoothly all summer.
This Wednesday, Schultz, along with Ride The Ducks mascot Splash, will be appearing at the Cinnaminson Friendly’s with his duck boat for a special guest appearance. The day promises lots of Captain Norm’s goofy jokes as well as discount coupons and other prizes.
He’ll be there from 5 to 7 p.m. at the 505 Route 130 South store in Cinnaminson.
While the Ducks are off-season, Schultz is still getting roles on screen. This fall he can be seen in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire as a cigar chomping bar patron.
While Schultz enjoys being on screen and impressing friends and family, especially his 14-year-old stepdaughter who keeps a scrapbook of his appearances, his home is with the ducks.
“I can’t wait to go to work everyday. I love to meet people and entertain them.”