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In March 2016, musical performance artist Cynthia Hopkins moved to Philadelphia, accompanied by her husband and her three cats. This weekly podcast is the story of their journey, featuring a new song every week about whatever adventures have transpired while exploring Philadelphia. It’s available for free subscription via iTunes!


Week #1: Goodbye Brooklyn

Released Mar 01, 2016

Why is Cynthia Hopkins moving to Philadelphia after 20 year in Brooklyn? Well, it’s a long story, involving a catastrophic fire (possibly telepathically manifested…?) that destroyed a drafty, noisy, extremely cluttered apartment in Williamsburg, preempting a potentially inevitable ejection due to the increasingly rapid gentrification of all neighborhoods in Brooklyn via the transformation of all manner of buildings into luxury condos and high-end men’s clothing stores – including most of the places Hopkins had previously lived and worked in – and landing Hopkins temporarily in the outskirts of Crown Heights, the land of storefront churches and friendly neighbors… And yet, though the move to Philadelphia seems prescribed by the very forces of nature, and is ultimately the result of multiple strokes of good fortune (including the catastrophic fire, in spite of its traumatic effects) Hopkins finds herself in the grips of a vast, unnameable homesickness, which she covers up with a song of bravado bidding farewell to the Brooklyn she already, inexplicably, misses.

Week #2: Vocal Resonance

Mar 8, 2016

This podcast is in the shape of Cynthia’s first week in Philadelphia: mildly traumatic, a bit long and unwieldy, wild, improvised, untidy, and perhaps meaningless. Cynthia and her cats react to the disorientation of a large house in disrepair (and under ongoing construction) using the survival instinct of playing dead or going limp. Yet negative mental chatter is vanquished by trauma therapy and audiobook recording, as well as long exploratory bike rides unveiling the treasures Philadelphia has to offer, such as old fashioned architecture, outdoor murals, and train whistles. Inspired by a vocal resonance workshop, Cynthia attempts to manifest her own imitation of a train whistle, from the inside out.

Read more at http://movingtophiladelphia.libsyn.com/#BXRj07TQe487BI8z.99

Week #3: Flower Show

Mar 15, 2016

Welcome home to husband extraordinaire Jeff Sugg, master of improving sonic fidelity on this week’s podcast, in which Jeff & Cynthia encounter pros and cons of home ownership while exploring their new neighborhood of West Philadelphia (specifically Squirrel Hill or Cedar Park, depending upon whom you ask or what map you consult): a land of minuscule libraries, transgender peoples, unabashed folk music, and a wide variety of ethnic foods. Jeff and Cynthia additionally report on an outing into Center City, to visit the Philadelphia Flower Show, which inspires this week’s song Flower Show, wherein Cynthia describes a desire to be more like a flower in a flower show than an actor in a play. Latin names of flowers are used in this song, as are singing bowls from the wilds of Kentucky (the only accompaniment) and a phrase borrowed from a Danish student named Ingeborg. The flower show outing also resulted in a hand-crafted flower headpiece, featuring a small plastic figurine of a man drilling a hole, placed in the headdress so that he appears to be drilling a hole directly into the center of the brain of the wearer of the headpiece (images can be found online, on Cynthia’s site at http://cynthiahopkins.com/musings/). Since then discussions have begun to get Martha Grahamcracker on the show next week. Another shout out goes to Rob Kaplowitz who loaned us some cables & James Sugg who loaned us some mics to help with the hifi/lofi studio!

Week #4: Martha Graham Cracker for President

Mar 22, 2016

Week #4 is the inaugural special guest episode of Moving to Philadelphia, featuring the man behind the woman, the king of drag queens Martha Graham Cracker! A song is sung in honor of her, and her alter ego Dito Van Reigersberg reveals her origins, her inspirations (with special mention given to Joey Arias), some of her tricks, and a few secret weapons up her sleeves, while declining Cynthia’s suggestion for Martha to run for president. In addition, Dito gives a Cliff Notes version of his instructions on cabaret performance, and Dito and Cynthia fantasize about a possible drag choir. The mysteries of Philadelphia trolley token purchases are also discussed, as well as the initially shocking water bill encountered by first-time homeowners Cynthia and Jeff. Martha Graham (a pioneer of modern dance) is also honored during this podcast.

Week #5: Fabric Workshop

Mar 29, 2016

Welcome guest Kate Abercrombie from the Fabric Workshop and Museum, with whom many issues are discussed, including: the history of the fabric workshop, its passionate founder Marion Boulton “Kippy” Stroud, some onerous tasks (involving hog testicles) Kate has performed in service to the museum, Cynthia’s recent exhibit of memorial quilts at the museum, Kate’s own artistic work, an upcoming exhibit at the Wheaton Museum of American Glass (featuring archeological finds un-earthed during ongoing digs to expand I-95) in which a work of Kate’s will be on display, the related site Digging I-95, the joys and fears involved in creating art, other fascinating museums such as the folk museum in Colonial Williamsburg and the Museum of the Living Torah in Brooklyn, and local Philadelphia lingo such as “jawn” and “case-quarter.” The song of the week is a sort of punk rock experimental song in honor of Kippy (founder of the Fabric Workshop and Museum) and her unbridled, omnivorous enthusiasm for the arts, in particular expressing gratitude to Kippy for her encouragement of Cynthia’s trepidatious foray into the museum realm. And here’s a link to some images of Cynthia’s quilts for the Fabric Workshop and The Museum of the Living Torah.

****A correction****

Janine’s opening at the Fabric Workshop and Museum is April 21st.

Week #6: Neighbor Hood

Apr 5, 2016

More is revealed about local politics and culture through interactions with neighbors and ward leaders. Meanwhile, a portrait of the late Walter Edmonds (the fascinating former owner of the house now occupied by Ms. Hopkins and Mr. Sugg) continues to assemble itself in literary fashion, emerging through a collection of anecdotes passed along by friends and family members, as well as objects accidentally discovered in the house. References are made to Moby Dick, Jersey Boys, a poem titled “When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple”, and James Turrell (whose outdoor sculpture at the Walker Art Center inspires this week’s song “Frame the Sky.”) Last but not least, the inaugural “joke of the week” is unveiled, and a previous week’s visit to Le Cat Café in Brewerytown is described. Here is a link to some photos we’ve uploaded can be seen on Ms. Hopkins’ website. For those who are interested in reading the whole of the poem referenced, here it is:

When I Am Old.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!

– Jenny Joseph

Week #7: Action Is Primary

Apr 12, 2016

This week shout-outs and mad props are given to Deborah Hay, Jonathan Richman, Jerome Bel, Pina Bausch, Lou Reed, and Annie Wilson, all in relation to Meg Foley’s project Action is Primary, currently on view at the Icebox Project Space in North Philadelphia. Cynthia and Jeff attempt to describe what is so fascinating and inspiring about Foley’s work, and why by contrast “dancer face” is not so interesting. Also our first-ever hate mail is read aloud, and Cynthia in turn allows herself a brief tirade against cultural criticism in general. To balance out the negativity with humor, we present not one but two jokes of the week. Jeff’s visit to the West Philadelphia tool library is described, and Cynthia bravely attempts to apply Foley’s techniques to an improvised song, vaguely in honor of the audience.

Week #8: Church of the Advocate

Apr 19, 2016

This week the themes are social justice and an investigation of empathy (does it require shared experience?). Both topics were spurred by Cynthia’s visit to the Church of the Advocate in Northeastern Philadelphia, host of multiple major events during the Civil Rights movement and the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s (the first women Episcopal priests were ordained here in 1974), and home to controversial murals painted by Walter Edmonds (former owner of the home now occupied by Cynthia & Jeff) and Richard Watson. The murals were commissioned by the church to better represent the black experience, reflect the black congregation and community, and draw parallels between slavery described in the Bible and slavery suffered by African Americans. The joke of the week, in keeping with these themes, involves racial discrimination, a religious debate without words, and social justice, while managing to have a funny punchline. Also discussed are Cynthia’s inadvertent discovery of the Fireman’s Hall Museum, and her attendance at two experimental performances: A Fierce Kind of Love at the Christ Church Neighborhood House, telling the story of the fight for the rights of the intellectually disabled and performed by a mixed ability cast; and Beowulf/Grendel at Mount Moriah Cemetery, a mobile outdoor performance requiring the audience to hike through a beautiful wilderness. Beowulf/Grendel was refreshing in its sincerity and total lack of irony….leading to a discussion of irony’s infectious grip on all manner of cultural expression but especially prevalent in the avant guarde theater scene in New York over the past 20 years or so, with which Cynthia and Jeff are so deeply familiar. The song of the week therefore is a very simple sincere folk song about love making loss bearable.

Week #9: House Warming

Apr 26, 2016

Dearly Beloved Artist Known as Prince is honored through remembrances, a medley of song fragments, and a song-of-the-week about life beyond the human realm, where presumably we all come from and will all end up eventually, one way or another. Imperfection within the human realm where we presently dwell is celebrated, and conversely striving impatiently for perfection is warned against. For example, the natural world fails to cooperate with the science festival, and Cynthia suffers a social-anxiety-induced minor emotional “shame spiral” meltdown during the car ride to Costco, a destination supplying all needs at bargain prices in preparation for this week’s house warming party. New neighbors and old friends are encountered and gifts received at the house warming party, which goes better than expected, as does a trip to the DMV, where New York licenses are surrendered to friendly employees who joke and offer to re-take photos.

Week #10: Stage Fright

May 3, 2016

This week several challenging, uncomfortable experiences are reviewed and salvaged for comedic potential plus any other use they might serve such as giving solace to those who’ve experienced similar discomforts, the primary one being STAGE FRIGHT experienced in a major league fashion by Cynthia at a “gala” performance. The spectrum of error is examined and a “clam” is differentiated from a “flub” (Cynthia and Jeff disagree on whether Cynthia’s error at the gala qualifies as a “clam” or a “flub”) The other uncomfortable experiences under discussion are working the polls on election day and the interesting though frustrating cast of misfit characters encountered there (from one, Cynthia learns about a potential backup career as a “medical actor” and from another, she learns that children in Philadelphia don’t actually have to go to school but can instead be “un-schooled”); and attending Science Failures night at a historic building converted into a sports bar (where Cynthia learned how the color mauve was discovered accidentally during a search for a cure for malaria.) In a way the theme of the week could be “the uses of failure” or “mistakes as material” or “how to survive experiences that go horribly awry and turn them into assets moving forward”… For example, the song of the week is a direct result of Cynthia’s dismal experience at the gala, invoking a term chanted during Passover ceremonies that means “that would have been enough” as in “if the only thing I got out of that gala experience was listening to David Byrne perform an incredibly inspiring song and dance number, that would have been enough.”

Week #11: Culture Shock

May 10, 2016

The subtitle of this week is no more poetry, because No More Poetry is the title of the Song of the Week, inspired by and borrowing from a live concert at the Boot & Saddle by Jherek Bischoff and Mirah. Other incidents reported upon include a petting zoo at a May Fair and a taco-eating contest at a totally different though similarly outdoor May Fair (therefore a secondary subtitle is May Fair.) Cynthia learns the painful way (during a crosswalk “incident” that gives this week’s podcast episode its actual primary super title) that traffic customs in Philadelphia are pretty much the opposite of traffic customs in New York City, and the resulting altercation with a total stranger leads to a crying jag. A more physical kind of Culture Shock is experienced when Cynthia attends a “cardio core barre” class using the app Class Pass: it is a rude awakening to the reality that she is definitely NOT qualified to attempt the Tough Mudder obstacle course coming up in Pennsylvania later this month. Also, a play about the pioneering homosexual psychiatrist Dr. John Fryer, whose brave speech at an American Psychiatric Association in 1972 helped end the Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental illness, is attended at The Painted Bride.

Week #12: Let's Get Physical

May 17, 2016

This week Cynthia practices a bunch of “self care” (something she has learned to do in sobriety, to counteract her alcoholic tendency to completely self-destruct) and comes down with a cold during the process… though probably the cold is caused not by self care practices but instead by cardio class number two (“ripped abs”) which pushes her outside her comfort zone and beyond her limits. Self care practices include a visit to the doctor, prompting a reenactment of a Saturday Night Live skit originally performed by Gilda Radner and Jane Curtin, on the subject of menstruation and its attendant horrors. The potentially magical benefits of IUDs are discovered and discussed. An “Ayurveda and the Art of Self Care” workshop reminds Cynthia of a particularly funny story from the funny story collection The Peterkin Papers, a children’s book she recalls from childhood in which the voice of wisdom always came from – Cynthia is almost completely certain – “the lady from Philadelphia”!?! With all the self care going on, why isn’t this podcast titled Self Care? Because Cynthia also visits a dress rehearsal of a performance by the Pennsylvania Ballet, where she marvels at super-human performances of choreography by Balanchine and Matthew Neenan. The virtues of dress rehearsals over actual performances are recognized, and in that spirit a rehearsal take of a duet with Dito Van Reigersberg is the song of the week, a Prince cover being practiced for a Pig Iron gala coming up that will hopefully go very differently from the last gala performance Cynthia gave… to be continued…

Week #13: Pig Iron

May 24, 2016

Cynthia’s plans for the week are derailed by not one but two acute sinus infections, diagnosed by medical professionals as “acute maxillary sinusitis, unspecified” and “acute frontal sinusitis, unspecified” which justifies her complaints of discomfort leading up to the diagnosis and also presents her with an antidote in the form of an antibiotic plus netti pot treatments. Nevertheless she manages to perform at the Pig Iron gala which turns out not to be a gala at all but a slightly awkward event, featuring an especially awkward social interaction that brings up uncomfortable memories of an awkward experience Cynthia had some years ago, taking over for a much larger and more buxom and much more adept at burlesque performer in a “naked ladies” play without words. Reminiscing about the naked ladies experience while suffering sinusitis reminds Cynthia of playing Salome on the roof of a Manhattan YWCA in October (because it required her to dance naked in freezing temperatures while barely able to breathe on account of bronchitis) years ago, a production also starring New York theater legends John Collins (as John the Baptist) and Scott Sheperd (as Herod.) In spite of acute sinusitis, Cynthia manages to make it all the way to Ashland, Oregon to visit husband Jeff, who is there designing video for The Wiz. Having recently shaved her head for no apparent reason, Cynthia purchases a cap and cowl-neck top for head protection, a combo that when worn together in an ensemble makes her resemble a cross between the eunuch from Game of Thrones and a boy starring in the musical “Newsies!” The song of the week is inspired by Game of Thrones, the Swedish acapella group that also performed at the Pig Iron benefit, and the choral music Cynthia has composed over the years for melodramatic productions such as Salome (not the YWCA production) and a number of Greek tragedies. The language of the song is a kind of warped version of English intended to sound like an invented language, in a kind of lazy homage to playwright Sibyl Kempson, for whom Cynthia will be composing some music this summer…

Week #14: Super Duper

May 31, 2016

This week (erroneously introduced as week #15) is an insomnia-driven missive from the wee hours of a rainy night, inspired by a show attended at PhilaMOCA called The Birth of Silent Radio, an offering from filmmaker and songwriter Cory McAbee aka Billy Nayer Show aka Small Star Corporation Radio aka Captain Ahab’s Motorcycle Club. Cynthia forgets to mention that one of the inspiring moments of the show was called “Wandering Window” in which Cory played recordings of soundscapes heard through windows sent in to him by folks from all around the world, and in that spirit this week’s entire podcast is recorded in a window on a rainy night, so there’s a lot of background weather sounds. The song of the week is a reverent cover of a song from the show, that makes heavy use of the phrase “super duper.” Reverence is also duly paid to several inspiring figures from Cynthia’s childhood, of whom she is reminded by the show, including radio personalities Dr. Demento and Jean Sheperd, and also the band Negativeland and the TV program Monty Python’s Flying Circus (Cynthia forgets to mention The Prisoner.) The film Rocky is referenced for the first time, in relation to another outing of the week, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where multiple dimensions of delights are encountered including hands-on print-making demonstrations, a Japanese tea ceremony room, a collection of snuff bottles, lots of armor and daggers, and almost enough rugs to satisfy a rug fetish.

Week #15: Joltin' Jabs

Jun 7, 2016

This week’s podcast is in honor of the late great champion of the world Muhammad Ali. A boxing fitness class is attended and respect for all boxers increased due to the class’s extreme sweat-inducing difficulty. Much love is experienced in the form of pain: love for Ali, love for the boxing fitness gym Joltin’ Jabs, and love for Philadelphia (itself coincidentally the “city of brotherly love”) (and also coincidentally perhaps most famous for a fictional boxing champion.) The song of the week is about the moment of realization that one is in love because one is longing for the thing or person or place that is loved – in other words it’s about the initial pangs or pain of love, pain as a signal that love is happening. Cynthia forgets to mention that her very first public performance in Philadelphia since moving there has been scheduled for July 7th at Plays and Players Theater, part of an evening by Good Good Comedy indicating that it is to be a comedic version of new material… but she doesn’t forget to list it on her website so more information is there at http://cynthiahopkins.com/. Meanwhile, Cynthia will continue reporting on Philadelphia even as she is forced to be away from it during this month of June, feeling pangs of love.

Week #16: Homesick Songs

Jun 14, 2016

Cynthia plunges even further into the depths of homesickness this week, her first complete week entirely away from Philadelphia since moving there. But inside every curse is a blessing and vice versa, the blessing in this case being she has decidedly fallen in love with her new home. So from a place of resources depleted by homesickness (and also extreme cardio fitness workouts at Row Zone in Philadelphia and then Warrior Boot Camp in Brooklyn) she offers a kind of love letter to her Philadelphia home, and additionally a remedy for warts is offered. In a somehow related fashion, the work and undaunted creativity of María Irene Fornés is discussed and used as a source of inspiration to continue to produce offerings even when constricted by afflictions, viewing those afflictions or restrictions as gateways to freedom rather than obstacles. Features of the missed home are described, such as a haunted bidet, the love of this home proving to be all-encompassing, taking particular delight in what might be considered by a non-lover “flaws” or “defects” or “broken things.” And in the spirit of love, the song of the week is in celebration of 10 years of marriage (thus far) to Jeff (otherwise known as the podcast engineer)…

Week #17: Blessed Curses

Jun 21, 2016

This week the urge to self-destruct is deconstructed as a desire to never experience the fragility of having cherished objects, people, and or situations that can be destroyed, go away, become soiled or ill, or die. The root of conservative political urges, conversely, is speculated as arising from an anxiety over having cherished objects and or situations that one is terrified of being co-opted or destroyed by alien invaders such as people from any other race, religious preference, or location. All this speculation is triggered by the disorder that has naturally taken over the home of first-time home-owners Cynthia and Jeff during their recent absence: a fairly nice rug probably irreparably destroyed by cat urine from angry cats; a yard completely over-grown with weeds so that it is like a jungle outside the boundaries of human civilization… Is it possible to preserve one’s integrity while owning property? Can one care for a garden without resorting to chemical “weed”-killers that are, as Rachel Carson pointed out years ago in her pioneering work Silent Spring, steadily destroying the delicate balance of the environment on which we depend for nourishment and shelter and comfort and… happiness? Wouldn’t it bring greater peace and serenity and even productivity to build a very tiny house (after attending a Tiny House Workshop in Philadelphia in just a couple of weeks) and live in that instead? Well, the author of the song of the week certainly thought so when she wrote the song of the week at the age of 19 or 20, featuring a character (the antagonist of the first musical she ever wrote) who “burns his own house down” (a premonition? a prophecy? a fantasy?) There’s a reason spiritual seekers of many stripes shave their heads and forego all worldly possessions and dwell simply, clutter-free: “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

Week #18: Heat of the Moment

Jun 28, 2016

This week’s title is also the title of the Song of the Week, an introspective folk autoharp cover of the hit by Asia, featuring phonetically interpreted (probably wildly inaccurate) lyrics. The title also refers to a creative impulse, an impulse that is not logical but driven by passion, even compulsive, such as the motivation compelling Cynthia to carefully illustrate every item of clothing (including accessories such as shoes, hats, and bags) in her wardrobe, ostensibly to serve as an antidote to emotionally-driven clothing shopping. Roz Chast serves as an inadvertent inspiration to Cynthia’s drawing “style” which is almost completely devoid of craft or skill, but rather emanating from a childish delight, an innocent and impractical singleness of purpose, a joy that is more challenging to access when professional (and by extension survival) concerns begin to overwhelm one’s creative practice. Jeff has evolved beyond such existential crises in his creative work for money; Cynthia not yet but there is hope. A similar dichotomy exists between Jeff’s relationship with New York (which has evolved from post-breakup “hatred” to “friendship”) versus Cynthia’s (which has evolved from “hatred” only as far as “tolerance seething with barely concealed resentment”) – but again, there is hope.

Week #19: Clown Closet

Jul 5, 2016

This week we welcome guest number 3, brilliant costume designer Tara Webb (responsible for the costumes in the Accidental Trilogy) who relocated to Philadelphia seven years ago and passes along her suggestions of fun Philly adventures including a nature preserve, excellent hiking options, and the mummers parade. Some questions under discussion include: What is a mummer? How did Tara turn a shapeless flame-retardant suit into a flashy futuristic outfit? What was the first costume she ever made? How did she end up being a costume designer when she at first resisted learning how to sew? How many sewing machines does she now have, how many did she used to have, and why did she give so many away? What is the highest quality sewing machine? Does she prefer collaboration or complete autonomy when hired as a designer? What are the pros and cons of being a freelance designer, anyhow? Did everyone realize you can create an imaginary shield outfit to ward off anyone you’d like to ward off, and you can design and build it all in your mind without ever learning to sew? And would anyone like to commission a book on how to survive as a freelance designer, co-written by Jeff and Tara? How about a folk song very loosely based on the pop hit “video killed the radio star”? You got it.

Week #20: Socially Activated

Jul 12, 2016

This week we welcome Guest Number Four, teacher of many things including yoga, theater of the oppressed, social activism, and just plain getting along better with one another Morgan Andrews (whom Cynthia considers “her” yoga teacher.) Morgan reveals the many reasons he decided to move to Philadelphia years ago (having grown up mostly in Boston but partly in his father’s Sufi community in West Philadelphia) and the ways in which his life and practices (creative and otherwise) expanded upon arriving here. He also reveals that the yoga studio where he teaches and Cynthia practices (Studio 34) was started by the owner of the house attached to the house Cynthia and Jeff now inhabit (their house’s “twin”) and that originally yoga classes were taught IN that house!! Furthermore Morgan reveals what he traveled to India to study (not yoga,) why Studio 34 is called Studio 34, who Augusto Boal was and what movement he started and why, and what some uses of puppetry are. Finally, Morgan supplies the inspiration for the song of the week, a cross-breeding between a Bengali folk song and “Fairytale in the Supermarket” by The Raincoats.

Week #21: Wit's End

Jul 19, 2016

The benefits of de-cluttering are noted in relation to good comedy, tiny houses, clean waterways, and economy of verse.

Week #22: Let's Talk About...

Jul 26, 2016

Things get sweaty and messy in the closet with guest number five Amanda DeLeo, necessitating more than the usual number of “bleeps.” Under discussion are the benefits of Pennsylvania versus Amanda’s home state of Florida, the benefits of physical and spiritual fitness, the benefits of various sorts of recovery and how they can be mutually complimentary, the benefits of deep breathing (and what it sounds like), the benefits of community, and the benefits of getting in trouble with the law. Amanda and Jeff discover that they both set out initially to become doctors, and share about how and why they each re-invented themselves otherwise. Amanda provides a post-interview inspiration for the song of the week by sending Cynthia a link to the song “Chinese New Year” by SALES, from which the back-beat to “let’s talk about…” is culled. Additional inspiration for the song of the week is drawn from “Let’s Talk About Sex” by Salt-N-Pepa, “Let’s Get Physical” by Olivia Newton-John, “Get On Up” by James Brown, “Give Me Back My Name” by the Talking Heads, and the current media circus surrounding Republican and Democratic National Conventions (the latter taking place currently in, yes it’s true, Philadelphia.)

Week #23: Radical Faerie Music

Aug 2, 2016

Topics you might become curious about by listening to this week’s report on multiple Philadelphia adventures include: what God hates, how lead can be organically removed from soil, what K stands for, how do witches and faeries define the terms witch and faerie, where and when free boating is offered in Philadelphia, whose 18th century garden is preserved and available for wandering through today, how to make a natural home-made hydrating beverage equivalent to Gatorade in its replenishing powers yet free of refined sugar, some of the many protests that took place during the Democratic National Convention last week, what is permaculture and why do people practice it, are there contemporary pagans and what do they believe and why, and how anarchists provide sonic support for an idea without clapping. The song of the week is inspired by and modeled after Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s performance of “Hope” at the Mann Center, and is titled “Structure of Hope.”

Week #24: Shooting Stars

Aug 9, 2016

This week we are moving the pictures to Instagram!!



What do a description of shooting stars, the IMAX movie about the National Parks now playing at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and Cynthia’s new project Articles of Faith all have in common? They are fueled by the energy of attempting an impossible task, which like all forms of energy is indestructible.

Week #25: Spectacular Display

Aug 16, 2016

The Photos are now on Instagram!



This week has been oppressively hot, and both Jeff and Cynthia have had to spend most of it working in mid-town Manhattan, the 9th circle of hell. Nevertheless the realms of fantasy are alive and well there and have rescued the spirits of these two folks from total despair: Jeff experienced Virtual Reality at Madame Tussaud’s, pretending to shoot at imaginary ghosts; meanwhile Cynthia accidentally has fallen in love with a fictional character (who is much too young for her, even if she happened to be single which she is not) from a “young adult” teen romance book she got paid to read out loud… Back in Philadelphia, the realms of the unreal (as some choose to call them) continue to rescue humans from oppressive heat and depressing politics, in the form of visual art (tiny paintings by Louise Fishman at the ICA) and music (songs of Charles Mingus performed live outdoors in Clark Park). And so, in spite of all manner of doubts, Cynthia continues to toil away at creating an escape from reality of her own – a show that is itself an homage to frames of mind that allow us to weather the pains of human life without being crushed by suffering (apparently, suffering is optional) – and offers up an a cappella version of a song called Spectacular Display, that may end up being the opening song of this new work.

Week #26: Articles of Faith (Sneak Preview)

Aug 23, 2016

photos on instagram #MovingToPHL

This week Cynthia is away from Philadelphia, hard at work on Martha’s Vineyard, rehearsing with Big Dance Theater… and also attempting to manifest the faith required to continue working on a new show that will be performed in small part as soon as September 17th (in Philadelphia, as part of the Catch performance series at Bok, within the Philadelphia Fringe Festival) and in large part also pretty darn soon, the first week of November (at commissioning venue American Dance Institute in Maryland) whose subject matter is itself faith: both the many uses of faith – as a form of hope to carry one through catastrophic adversity, as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, as an antidote to panic when facing deadlines that seem impossible to meet, as an energy source when creating something new (especially when one’s livelihood has come to depend on one’s ability to create new things) – and the extreme difficulty of cultivating faith when perfectly wonderful people suffer and die young and perfectly decent homes are destroyed by acts of God. For the first time ever, this week’s podcast includes a “sneak preview” in the form of a mini-monologue from Articles of Faith, followed by a song about the difficulty of proceeding with the creation of a show called Articles of Faith.

Week #27: Fringe Arts

Aug 30, 2016

pictures on Instagram



It’s almost September, the month of Cynthia’s 44th birthday and also the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, in which Cynthia will present a small excerpt from her new work in progress Articles of Faith, as part of Catch Takes Bok. She also plans to see many exciting works in the festival by such inspiring artists as Ann Hamilton, Jerome Bel, Nichole Canuso, Nora Chipaumire, and Martha Graham Cracker, among many others. Cynthia will appear in next year’s Fringe Festival in two projects: one by Michael Kiley (scheduled to be our guest next week on Moving to Philadelphia!) and another by Big Dance Theater, the latter serving as inspiration for the song of the week, Bess’s Lament, written from the perspective of a young wife who has caught her husband having an affair with their even younger maid, according to the syllabic and chord-shifting structure of a song by My Brightest Diamond.

Week #28: Musical Numbers

Sept 6, 2016

pics on instagram


This week we welcome Guest #6 Michael Kiley: composer, sound designer, and teacher of a vocal technique he calls personal resonance. The song of the week is a collaborative exploration of “head voice” improvised by Michael, Cynthia, and Jeff. Under discussion is the consideration of the comfort of performers and audience during the experience of live theater, and on display are spontaneous demonstrations of musical numbers (from musicals in which they performed way back when they performed in musicals) by all three participants in this “interview.” Also reported on is Cynthia & Jeff’s recent tour of the newly built Mormon Temple in Philadelphia (time is running out to take this free tour, by the way, unless you are a practicing Mormon in “good standing”) whose Baptismal and Sealing Rooms, with their enormous emphasis on eternal life, prompt a revival of the “joke of the week.”

Week #29: Devil's Pool

Sept 13, 2016

Cynthia reports (with some help from her cat Lucy) on recent adventures including exploration of an underwater cave in the devil’s pool, exorcism of doubts during a birthday ritual in Germantown, and restoration of faith in creativity inspired by the work of Maria Irene Fornes, in whose honor the song of the week is composed (in support of Michelle Memran’s Kickstarter campaign to finish her documentary about Fornes “The Rest I Make Up.”)

Week #30: Singing Praises

Sept 20, 2016

Cynthia sings praises to all the artists who’ve ever inspired her to be an artist, especially Jerome Bel, whose show Gala – which Cynthia saw last week at the 2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival – she attempts to describe, and through that description unravel the mystery of its sublime glory.

Week #31: Ghostly Limbs

Sept 27, 2016

On display are an externalization of the internal experience of tinnitus (and other examples of the amazing elasticity of the body and mind), two of the most interesting museums in Philadelphia (the Mutter and the Barnes), live judgement of dog clothing at a former burlesque house (as well as a dispute about the proper way to ride a triceratops), and squirrel-infested attics.

Week #32: Re-enactments

Oct 4, 2016

a reminder that the pics are on Instagram!

The legacy of Rizzo (who served as mayor of Philadelphia for two terms, putting into practice the ruthless “law and order” approach Trump promises) is re-enacted on stage; a Revolutionary War battle  is re-enacted on the streets of Germantown; a film is re-enacted as an opera; and a Civil War song is re-enacted as an Iraq war song.

Week #33: General Relativity

Oct 11, 2016

What is it like to become trapped in someone else’s version of time and or space? Cynthia learns first hand during this week’s explorations – of Ann Hamilton’s Habitus installation at Pier 9, and the Shoe Museum at the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine – and attempts to convey the experience to you without trapping you in her version of time and space.

Week #34: Magic Lanterns

Oct 18, 2016

photos can be found on Instagram!


Folks, it turns out to be archive month. Let’s celebrate! Light is projected through images of Florence Nightingale, trees undergoing surgery, baby animals in zoos when zoos were just a bunch of barren cages, native peoples of Borneo, the period rooms of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Hercules company (specializing in explosives!) Along with old-fashioned imagery, what becomes illuminated is subcultures of humans who appreciate such displays. An ode to the natural world and its appreciators – particularly the author of the miraculously rectified childhood diary of a girl named Opal – is sung.

Week #35: Magic Gardens

Oct 26, 2016

Oct 26, 2016

A soothing instrumental outdoor concert is attended at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, but the main attraction turns out to be the craft table, where diddley bows are custom made. The calming effects of coloring are experienced, serving as an antidote to a fit of rage ignited by someone cutting in line. The song of the week is a soothing instrumental cover of a song composed for a previous podcast episode, possibly to be used as background music for a monologue in Articles of Faith. The term “articles of faith” is explained.

Week #36: Even Odds

Nov 2, 2016

The Even hotel in Rockville is actually a little odd… and that’s where this week’s podcast is coming to you from. Even odder are the odds for ongoing battles between sports teams and presidential hopefuls. But the oddest odds of all may be Jeff’s odds for reinstating good credit at the word bank deep within the recesses of his mind, not to mention the odds of Cynthia treating her inner critics with patience and compassion… these unknowns hang in the balance along with the show Articles of Faith, as it is crafted piece by piece, day by day, leading up to the day it is scheduled to be presented to a live audience of possibly friendly strangers, mere days away from today…

Week #37: Breaking Eggs

Nov 8, 2016

Cynthia and Jeff spent the week working on Articles of Faith in a residency at the American Dance Institute in Rockville, Maryland. The intensive period proved very fruitful and culminated in two performances over the weekend. Meanwhile, Cynthia struggles with her English accent finding inspiration in the series “Poirot”, based on the famed Belgian detective created by Agatha Christie. Returning to Philly at the end of the week, they are back home and take part in election day here in the “swing state” of Pennsylvania!

Week #38: Open Door

Nov 16, 2016

In the wake of two extremely disheartening events (the defeat of the most promising – and not only because she’s the only – female presidential candidate in history by the most openly jingoistic, sexist, and racist person ever to be elected President of the United States; and the passing of brilliant poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen) Cynthia and Jeff scramble to find some rays of light in all the darkness: first by interviewing ward leader and political science professor Carol Jenkins, asking “how did this happen?” and also “what can we do now that it is happening?”; and second by offering up a song for the week that is all about finding light in the darkness, quoting the late great Mr. Cohen’s beloved phrase “there is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.”

Week #39: Hell, No

Nov 23, 2016

Yup, it’s a protest song.

Week #40: Drag Kings

Nov 30, 2016

A play about drag queens inspires this week’s song, originally conceived as a ballad for Cynthia’s theoretical drag king persona (a cross between Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Tommy Shelby, the lead character of the TV series Peaky Blinders) (or possibly, alternatively, simply a version of Jesus Christ as if he were indeed a woman in drag come back to the future to reveal that significant truth to the modern-day world) yet evolved mysteriously into a ballad for Cynthia’s theoretical drag queen persona, who is not-so-secretly underneath-it-all a “natural woman.”

Week #41: The Long View

Dec 7, 2016

The piano has arrived, Jeff has returned, and Cynthia goes back to work. This week we went to see Neil deGrasse Tyson speak about science and movies at the Kimmel Center and Cynthia went to see Annie Wilson at FringeArts. We end the week with a discussion of depression…from the inside and the outside.

Week #42: Lucky 7

Dec 14, 2016

Seven is indeed a lucky number: Guest #7 is Jill Stoddard, master of Zen Buddhism, brilliant painter of strange horses, peacefully eloquent peace advocate, and extremely recent transplant to Philadelphia. Jill recounts her journey to home ownership, including encounters with squirrels, mice, and more devious internal demons. Jill’s request for a cover of the George Michael song “Freedom” is honored in a spontaneous mashup with another George Michael song “Faith.”

Week #43: Good Feeling

Dec 21, 2016

All the feelings (good, bad, ugly & otherwise) triggered in Cynthia by two weeks of intensive improvisational experiments working on Michael Kiley’s project Prescription are discussed, as well as the challenges and potential rewards of improvisational practices in general, in generative and performative forms. Jeff describes what it was like to be on the audience side of the improvisational performance, after working in the totally  opposite realm of creation (a Broadway Musical)

Week #44: Farewell, December

Dec 28, 2016

Congratulations, audience: you have survived the 2016 winter holidays! It is time to bid a slightly preemptive, melancholy good riddance to December and to the whole sad year of 2016, and along with it the many brilliant artists who left the Earth this year, including Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, and Merle Haggard. Homage is paid to Mr. Haggard through a cover of Cynthia’s favorite Christmas song “If We Make It Through December,” and an anti-capitalist mantra is offered to help you survive the remaining days of this commercialized holiday season.

Week #45: Get Thee to a Mummery

Jan 4, 2017

Mmmm…2017 is rung in to the tune of Mummery & Mexican Modernism. This week’s sonic offering, a cover of Aerosmith’s “What It Takes,” has nothing to do with any of that.

Week #46: Ghost Appearance

Jan 11, 2017

The ghost of a deceased performance work (in the form of criticism of Cynthia’s portrayal of a ghost in that performance work) comes back to haunt Cynthia at a critical juncture.

Week #47: Feminist Fiber Fest

Jan 18, 2017

Cynthia forgets to describe the title event this week, due to an episode-length tangent about constipation. Is her constipation a direct result of spending a week working in New York? Is it due to anxiety about an impending “job” interview? What is Cynthia’s constipation trying to communicate? Will its message ever be accurately fact-checked? And will Cynthia’s bowels ever move again, or will they end up preserved in a glass jar at the Mutter Museum, alongside other fatal pathologies?

Week #48: Pussy Grabs Back

Jan 25, 2017

We welcome Guest #8 Silke “Sunshine” Tudor, survivor of a California hippie commune upbringing and current activist on behalf of all sorts of human rights and social justices, to give us hope for the future in the wake of Trump’s very, very poorly attended inauguration.

Week #49: Frances Rose

Feb 1, 2017

Fabulous living systems architect Frances Rose (Guest #9) discusses K is for Kitchen, the community supported kitchen run out of faer home. In response to faer request for a song of the week about how cross pollination is fun and sexy, Cynthia presents a cover of a song by Ethan Lipton titled The Flora and The Fauna (Lipton’s fantastic version can be found via iTunes, from his album Mr. Softy – thanks Ethan, for making fun and sexy songs to inspire and delight during dark, scary times!)

Week #50: Integral Wellness

Feb 8, 2017

Wellness is pursued from the outside in and from the inside out. During the healing process that results, it becomes tricky to diagnose which fabulous experience is most responsible: was it the colonic (or “bowel irrigation”)? The flotation tank (or “forced relaxation”)? Or could it have been a performance artist’s impersonation of a physician (or “fake doctor”)? But the more crucial question may become: can America achieve “integrated wellness”? The song of the week (a medley of national anthems and Civil War hurrahs) offers old-timey suggestions.

Week #51: Family Circus

Feb 15, 2017

Our podcast population triples this week, as we simultaneously welcome Guests #10, #11, and #12 – A Whole Family of Guests! Trey Lyford (is he a clown pretending to be a magician, or a magician pulling of the illusion of being a clown?) and Suli Holum (writer, maker, performer, and oral historian in the making) recently moved to Germantown with their nine-year-old daughter Coralie (currently studying Harry Potter and Star Wars, while preparing for her role as Scar in The Lion King) and join us to report on how the transition is going. In response to Coralie’s request for a “protest song,” Cynthia offers up a family-style-folk-choir version of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin.’”

Week #52: America! Freedom!

Feb 22, 2017

Black History Month is drawing to a close: the perfect moment to enjoy Hidden Figures (an inspiring dramatization of the NASA careers of three brilliant African American women at the time of both the “space race” and the Civil Rights Movement) and to visit the African American Museum in Philadelphia (and read pages from Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” that include the quote “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”) Week #52 is also the end of Jeff and Cynthia’s first year of living in Philadelphia: the perfect moment to press the pause button, take a breath, and reflect upon whether or not this podcast is serving the purpose for which it was intended. The jury is still out, audience…. and you are the jury!