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Best Electric Scooters of 2022

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2021 was when we all returned to work, hoping everything would return to normal. Everything did return to normal as expected – including outrageous prices at the pump. Driving doesn’t have the same appeal as it used to, especially for those returning to city life. I haven’t owned a car since 2019 and have been patiently waiting for Elon to debut flying cars to make my city commute more bearable.

Well, disappointingly, 2021 did not bring us flying cars. But it did get us an onslaught of electric scooters. Traffic jams, rotating the block for parking, and expensive maintenance are things of the past. Electric scooters are replacing cars in cities, and there’s no better time to get one than now. What are you waiting for, gas prices to go down?

Unfortunately, the world of electric scooters is still a relative niche market, and you might not be able to tell a cheap Chinese knock-off brand from a reputable manufacturer. That’s why we decided to put together a list of the best electric and reputable scooters on the market today. We’ve tested about 20 electric scooters ourselves and have narrowed the list down to a few that we can confidently recommend. Enjoy!

Kaabo Mantis Pro SE from Voro Motors ($2299)

Let’s start with the biggest bang for your bucks electric scooter, the Kaabo Mantis Pro SE. SE stands for a special edition made in collaboration with Voro Motors. You can tell it’s an SE edition by the unique gold trims.

This scooter was designed for enthusiasts; however, it’s an easy one to recommend to anyone at this price range. Whatever you’re looking for in a scooter, whether it’s impressive build quality, craftsmanship, performance, portability (for its class), or value, the Kaabo Mantis Pro SE edition from Voro Motors has it all.

Packed with dual 1000W motors (combined 2000W), it’s the fastest and most powerful scooter on this list. The sheer power combined with world-class engineering lets you go from 0 – 15 miles in less than 2 seconds and max out at 45 miles per hour. That was not a typo. Yes…45 miles per hour. That’s twice the speed limit of most city roads.

Quick specs:

Price: $2299 (for 2022 24AH version)

Top speed: 45mph

Battery range: 40 miles

Scooter weight: 65lbs

Tires: 10″ tubed tires. 3″ wide

Max load: 330lbs

Motor: Dual 1000W Motors (2000W total)

Brakes: Zoom Hydraulic brakes

The Kaabo Mantis’ battery can last up to 45 miles, making it the longest-lasting scooter on this list. You can probably see why we put this one first.

The one downside would be the weight. At 65 lbs, it’s the heaviest scooter on this list. However, compared to most scooters in its class, this is one of the lightest high-performance scooters on the market.

You are getting something for all of that extra weight. The Kaabo Mantis is exceptionally well built and can handle up to 330lbs.

(Full review coming soon)

Shell Ride SR-5S ($649)

For those who don’t have $2299 to drop on a scooter, the Shell Ride SR-5S is the perfect alternative.

The Shell Ride SR-5S is a compact, fast, and reliable scooter with one of the best build qualities on a scooter at this price range. It’s hard to tell from pictures, but this scooter is exceptionally well built with a wobble-proof solid steel folding stem.

Everything about the SR-5S screams quality. Riding it around the city, we’ve never heard a single rattle or felt anything come loose. The handlebar is wide with a firm spatula grip. The bell is an actual bell instead of a spring-action mechanism used by cheaper scooters.

Quick specs:

Price: $629

Top speed: 15.5 – 20mph

Battery range: 18-20 miles

Scooter weight: 30.4lbs

Tires: 8.5″ semi-pneumatic

Max load: 220lbs

Motor: Front 350W Motor

Brakes: Rear disc brake & electric front brake

It has a range of 20 miles and a top speed of about 20 miles. These numbers will vary depending on your weight, road condition, and other environmental factors.

Three features separate the SR-5S from most other scooters. First is how secure and easy it is to fold and unfold the scooter. The stem uses a unique sheath sliding mechanism that lets you fold/unfold the scooter in less than 5 seconds. The locking mechanism is also secure, making it easier to carry around than most.

The second feature is how quickly the scooter starts up. Pressing the power button brings the scooter to life within 1 second, and you’re ready to go. The built-in display is simple, functional, and visible even on bright sunny days.

The third feature is the Shell Ride App. The SR-5S is one of few scooters with robust App integration. I was skeptical at first and thought the App may have been an after-thought. To my surprise, it’s an exceptionally well-designed interface that connects seamlessly with the scooter. You don’t need an App for any scooter, but it’s nice to see your average speed, total mileage, etc.

The one downside is the small 8.5 semi-pneumatic wheels. They’re a bit small for the speed this scooter can handle. At 12-15mph, you’ll be fine. However, at 18-20 mph, it can get risky on uneven roads.

If you’re looking for a lightweight and high-quality scooter to make short commutes in the city, you can’t go wrong with the Shell Ride SR-5S

Levy Plus Electric Scooter ($699)

The Levy Plus is one of the lightest and most portable scooters on this list. Despite weighing only 30 lbs, it’s capable of 18 mph with a range of 20 miles on cushy 10″ pneumatic tires.

Quick specs:

Price: $629

Top speed: 18 mph

Battery range: 20 miles

Scooter weight: 30lbs

Tires: 10″ pneumatic tires

Max load: 220lbs

Motor: Front 350W Motor

Brakes: Rear disc brake & electric front brake

The battery is removable, however we didn’t feel like this was a very useful feature. Given the scooter doesn’t come with an extra battery. That will be an added cost. So most of the time, you’re just plugging directly into the scooter to charge.

The 1-step latching mechanism to fold and unfold is quick, easy, and offers wobble-free operation. The Levy Plus is one of the most accessible and most convenient electric scooters. Using the Levy Plus, I could get to work, board public transit, and bring the scooter into Starbucks with ease.

My one complaint would be the lack of app integration. Given that Levy does have an App for their Fleet products, I felt one should’ve been published for their scooters.

Glion Balto ($799)

The Balto is already such a unique scooter that’s differentiating itself from anything on the market. We like that the team at Glion didn’t just use a copy/paste design and instead re-imagined what functionality would look like—introducing the Glion Balto, the only scooter that comes standard with a removable seat and grocery rack AND a high-torque 750W motor.

Quick specs:

Price: $799

Top speed: 17 mph

Battery range: 20 miles

Scooter weight: 38lbs

Tires: 12″ pneumatic tires

Max load: 255lbs

Motor: Front 750W Motor

Brakes: Rear disc brake & electric front brake

It has a top speed of about 17mph, a range of 20 miles, and a maximum load capacity of 255lbs. The removable 500W battery pack also doubles as a portable power station to charge your devices. However, you’ll need to buy a $139 inverted from Glion, sold separately, to use that feature. That may or may not be your favorite thing about the Balto.

What WILL be your favorite thing about the Balto are the massive 12″ pneumatic tires. These are the most oversized tires to have ever been fitted on a scooter. These tires are ready to take on poorly serviced city roads and potholes.

The one major downside with the Balto is portability. At 38lbs, the weight is manageable. However, it’s far too big even when folded to bring into public spaces. You’ll likely want to lock this outside on a bike rack.

I have to admit, the grocery rack in the back was not a selling point for me. However, I’ve grown to love it, especially when I need to make a quick trip to Aldi’s every week. If you’re looking to pick up girls on your scooter, look elsewhere (actually, don’t look at scooters altogether). But if you’re looking for an all-in-one scooter that’s great for commuting and grocery trips, there’s nothing better. The Glion Balto is screaming your name.

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Review: On The Count Of Three

A past-due calling card for actor-director Jerrod Carmichael

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WARNING: This review, and this film, contain discussions of suicide.

On the Count of Three’s premise—two childhood friends who make a suicide pact and spend their last day on Earth together—is certainly fresh. So what feels stale about it?

It’s not that we’ve seen too many comedies about suicide before. It does, I suppose, bear some resemblance to other race-against-the-clock (Good Time) or apocalyptic (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) comedies. Maybe it doesn’t commit to darkness as much as these comedies; there’s certainly a humanist core deep down here.

But I think we all sort of know why this movie can’t fully work in 2022: it’s a movie Jerrod Carmichael made in 2020. The director and star has seen a long-overdue rise to stardom in these past months after a series of false starts. He’d already had a breakout role in a hit comedy, a sitcom starring vehicle, a special directed by Spike Lee, and a recurring feature on 2019’s biggest album.

Last month, the stars finally aligned. He came out as gay, dropped a smash-hit comedy special, and hosted SNL all in the span of a week. It’s no surprise that Annapurna Pictures quickly moved to release On the Count of Three, which they picked up at Sundance in January 2021.

Here’s the rub: On the Count of Three lacks the self-assuredness of Carmichael’s recent rise. It doesn’t feel like the film, or the version of this film, that he would’ve made today. His performance as both actor and director is good, but held to a certain restriction.

Carmichael plays Val, a down-on-his-luck laborer who ventures to commit suicide with the help of his recently-hospitalized friend Kevin (Christopher Abbott). 

While there’s a certain comical bleakness to Val’s life—he essentially shovels dirt for a living—there’s an interesting idea of suicidal ideation here. Val’s thoughts of killing himself don’t come from stagnation or trauma, but from dissatisfaction with achievement. He makes his first attempt right after getting a promotion, and we later learn that he had planned to propose to his now-pregnant partner, Natasha (Tiffany Haddish).

As director, Carmichael wisely avoids eating up the film and splits lead duties with Abbott. If anything, Abbott gets the real star showcase here, again proving his dynamic magnetism after a series of weirdo indie turns like Vox Lux, Possessor, and Black Bear.

Still, there’s a classic comedic duo chemistry here. Carmichael is the rock around which Abbott orbits. The setup also gives them plenty of opportunities to subvert that dynamic. When Val’s confrontation with his father (J.B. Smoove) gets heated, Kevin has to be the one to pull him back. But, when they come to blows, Kevin’s the one with the tire iron.

Black comedy is always a tricky balancing act. Penn and Teller Get Killed is notorious for going all-in on nihilism and failing to connect. I think this film mostly succeeds, but its uncertainty with its own dark philosophy is, again, reflective of a more self-conscious point in Carmichael’s career.

In Kevin’s first scene, he delivers a monologue about how doctors have been trying to fix him since he was eight years old, and if his life was worth saving, they’d have done it by now. Much of the film follows Kevin’s quest to kill a childhood doctor who molested him (played by Henry Winkler). Ultimately, it’s Val who pulls the trigger, but only after he decides to choose life. His decision to choose life only comes after a guilt trip from Natasha, who lays out how he’ll still be guilty in death if he abdicates his responsibility as a father.

All of which is to say, this is in many ways a philosophically bleak movie. But at the same time, the humanism of the direction kind of betrays that philosophy. There are a lot of monsters around the central players here, but the cashiers, receptionists, and other random side characters they meet along the way are given a stark innocence.

I’m not sure how I feel about any of this. Is it too bleak? Not bleak enough? Or just not made with enough confidence to come out strongly in either direction? Whatever the case, I think this movie hums along perfectly fine. Until the last minute.

For the most part, On the Count of Three is very insular. We’re never not following Val and Kevin, and it takes place over the course of a day that they spend almost completely alone. 

The final shot, which I won’t give away, finally pulls us out. We recognize that Val’s story is one of a million stories, all different, all wrestling with life and death, and all ending in the same rotten place. It’s certainly the most striking ending I’ve seen this year, and it made me think twice about the film overall.

When I’m reflecting on this year, I don’t think On the Count of Three will end up one of my favorites. Seeing how far Carmichael has come, this film’s steady, dry lob isn’t the catapult that Annapurna hoped it would be. Still, it’s a perfectly solid film. It’s absolutely worth seeing for its final shot alone. B
On the Count of Three is now playing at Landmark’s Ritz Five and available on digital.

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Review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Sam Raimi saves Marvel from itself.

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Let me just start this review by saying: this multiverse isn’t that mad.

It’s impossible not to compare Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to the other big multiverse hit of the year, Everything Everywhere All at Once. The latter film breezes into totally different character histories, filmmaking styles, and finger… materials? Compare that to Multiverse of Madness, where the only alternate world we spend substantial time in is one where green means “stop.”

None of this is to say that the 28th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is without madness. It just comes from director Sam Raimi. His giddy eye manages to breathe new life into a franchise that’s functionally remade Iron Man no less than a dozen times.

Frankly, it’s to the film’s credit that the multiverse takes a backseat. The idea of infinite parallel universes may be inspiring for real-world philosophy, but as a narrative technique, it quickly loses steam. Instead, Multiverse of Madness is powered by the real juice behind Doctor Strange: dreams, ghouls, and oddball mysticism.

These macabre elements lend it a certain fairy tale quality. It feels more like a Wachowski-style bout of sci-fi whimsy than another perfunctory chapter in Disney’s medieval-marriage version of filmmaking. That’s probably why I found it much easier to connect to than any recent Marvel outing.

It’s interesting how well the film seems to stand on its own, given that it asks its audience to do more homework than any other MCU film to date. It assumes you have a knowledge of Marvel’s TV shows, recent property acquisitions, and obscure comics lore. Still, with its striking visuals, bold takes on characters, and complete embrace of mysticism, there are times where it seems to transcend Marvel entirely.

The secret ingredient here should be obvious. Raimi, who hasn’t made a film since 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful, is stronger as a hired gun than many MCU directors at their best. It feels like it’s taken 28 movies for Marvel to realize you have to turn the camera on. It’s got zany zooms and frantic motion, but at its core, this is the first Marvel movie whose shots feel carefully planned out. There’s a vision here; not a perfect one, but one just strong enough to overpower Disney’s corporate interests.

There were moments in this movie that had me wanting to leap out of my seat in the theater. More surprisingly, they seemed to get more and more frequent as the film progressed. Even some of Marvel’s best—Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy—have suffered from a dull third act. Multiverse of Madness only builds, dumping its dull moments in the first third before ramping up to nonstop thrills once the villain is revealed.

While this first act is weak, it still has its charms. Raimi relishes the chance to place Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) in real-life circumstances. It’s why fans have taken note of the film’s performances. Marvel often takes its A-list casts for granted, but Raimi revels in the chance to direct them.

Cumberbatch and Olsen handily deliver two of the MCU’s best performances. Newcomer Xochitl Gomez also leaves an impression, although she’s definitely a supporting player. The big Illuminati cameos you’ve been promised won’t exactly have you jumping for joy, but like the multiverse itself, they’re used with a clever economy. Even brief cameos get a chance to shine here, especially Bruce Campbell and Michael Stuhlbarg (who does 30 seconds of wig work and walks away with the “with” credit).

While fans of the MCU’s formula may find this a jarring departure, most of the film’s issues come from its Marvelisms. Like Eternals before it, the infusion of a distinctive vision makes Marvel’s shtick more glaring. The “universe-building” elements, such as the Illuminati’s introduction and pointed references to Thanos and Spider-Man, are the ones that break the movie’s spell.

On a similar note, the too-cool one-liners are especially poor here. As quippy as MCU movies are, there’s not a single memorable verbal gag in here, and there’s a few that are actively distracting. No Way Home’s one-liners are no less cringeworthy, but Raimi’s singular vision is what makes this movie work, and these moments of glaring studio intervention compromise it.

The lack of pith isn’t to say that this movie has no levity. In fact, it finds more moments for emotional connection than any other MCU film, both within and without action. Raimi employs a technique so often forgotten in today’s blockbusters: action as a gag. PG-13 as it may be, Multiverse of Madness makes hilarious use of horror and gore. Putting delicious kills front and center, it walks away with a distinctive sense of humor in spite of its paint-by-numbers dialogue.

My opinion on this film will likely be completely different in six months. Maybe it’s doomed to a fate like Shang-Chi, beloved in an instant and forgotten just as quickly. But whether it’s the Raimi stan in me or not, this brought back the sense of wonder in me that the MCU’s assembly line beat out of me a decade ago.

Maybe the fact that Multiverse of Madness came out this late in the series already precludes it from being seen as a highlight. But right now, I don’t find myself wondering if it’s the best in the MCU. I’m wondering if it’s the best in the MCU by a country mile. A-
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now in theaters.

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Plaze Review: Philly’s Fastest Growing DIY Networking App

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I’ve been involved with do-it-yourself music in the Greater Philadelphia area for over a decade now. Throughout this time, I have occupied every potential role: showgoer, performer, promoter, you name it. 

The groups I’ve ended up with typically share a similar genesis. 

Here’s a picture: you’re sitting in a half-empty living room. Below you, a crowded basement pulses with tame tropes and half-hearted expressions. Some loudmouth nursing a 40oz foolishly exchanges charm for pretension and out from a groggy, smoke-induced stupor, an assertion springs: “Jawbreaker is the definitive Bay-Area rock band of the 90s. Miss me with that Green Day sh*t.”

Leaping (or staggering) to your feet, you fumble for rejoinders. It’s then that you find yourself thrust into a spirited dialogue with an equally impassioned stranger.

One thing leads to another. Chatting and chain-smoking, you trade visions, earnestly planning a potential project only to wake up the next morning without energy or interest in maintaining contact. After all, they smoked menthols— and your inner pre-teen still weeps to Green Day. You don’t need that kind of energy in your life. 

The story repeats itself ad nauseam and there’s no light at either end of the tunnel.

Enter: Plaze. Philadelphia’s hottest DIY networking app. Aiming to revamp the way musicians discover one another, Plaze offers a digital alternative to the oft-excruciating process of starting a band. 

What is Plaze?

Double Swede at PhilaMOCA on 2/26/2022. Credit: Jj Park.

Before I dig in, let me provide some background about Plaze. Like most innovations, Plaze was inspired by a problem. As stated in the first sentence of the Our Story portion on their website: “Plaze started with a problem.” 

Call it journalistic intuition. 

Co-founder Jamie Mallia, a drummer, recounts his story. It’s a common one, and we all have our own version. An exciting new musical partnership abruptly halted upon the realization that the person you have agreed to jam with is, shall we say, grossly incompetent. 

Naturally, the unevenness of their skillset led to an awkward, short-lived alliance. That’s when the big idea hit: an app that facilitates discovery among creatives. One that promotes networking and collaboration while helping weed out the mismatches.

Plaze looks to one-up other avenues of creative networking like Facebook and Reddit. It does so by tailoring the experience to the expressed needs of its users. It is, however, currently a Philadelphia-centric app. 

A New Way of Networking

Photo Credit: Jj Park

For the sake of transparency, I must share my initial skepticism. And I’ll be the first to admit that this is likely the result of my reverence for the punk ethos. But honestly, that’s a stuffy holdover. 

And punk, in its truest and most essential form, is about moving forward. Embracing change, even (and especially) when it threatens tradition. The fruits of punk that have prevailed throughout history have been those that, in threatening tradition, offers a constructive, democratic alternative. And so, with that renewed understanding in mind, I’m downloading Plaze.

Nowadays, there’s an app to help you with everything from grocery delivery services to keeping your mental health in check. So, really, why shouldn’t there be an app for meeting other local creatives?

Mind you, this article will encapsulate one person’s attempt at using the app.

My experience doesn’t speak for the whole of us. Everyone who uses this app, with their own style, expectations, intentions, and skill sets will undoubtedly yield a unique experience. With any hope, anyway.

In a sense, you can consider this less of a review and more of an account. The semantic difference is that, in this case, I won’t submit an official judgment.

How’s the User Interface?

Upon downloading Plaze, you’ll find that the interface is simple and intuitive. For those of us experienced with any of those countless dating apps, it’s downright familiar. This isn’t a dating app though, so there’s some hope for you yet. Just think of all the time you’ll save not having to worry about a punchy new pick-up line. 

Features

All of the features are offered in a palatable four-tab menu. The tabs are as follows: 

Profile

My Scene

Map

Explore

Profile

You’re going to want to add a picture or two. Really flesh out your profile here. Honestly, this function alone is pretty dope. Consider it a central hub for all of your artist profile pages. Now you can have your Bandcamp, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and personal website all in one place. Artists are not terribly well-known for being, well, unlazy— so this certainly helps the discovery process along! 

The profile section is also where you’ll outline your skillset. Shameless promotion here, but I need to show photos to properly explain. 

This also provides me the opportunity to show off this sleek, seamlessly navigable interface. Despite being a millennial, my handling of most new technology is more in line with that of a 100-year-old man. But believe you me, sonny: this app is absolutely easy to handle. Golly!

You can write up a quick blurb about yourself and add all of your skills. This includes both on-stage and off-stage skills; which means audio engineers, promoters, teachers, and photographers all have a place in Plaze.

Whatever your niche, Plaze has thought of ways to plug it into the scene. Speaking of the scene, let’s hop to the next tab. 

My Scene

This function puts you in the same room as what’s happening in your area. At all times. The page is split up into two subsections, both of which are very simply laid out: Show Posters and Community. These sections borrow a lot of the convenient aspects of Facebook or Reddit.

Show Posters, as its name suggests, is purely a feed for flyers. It’s like an infinite scroll of calendar events for upcoming shows. You can interact with these the same way you would Facebook events, including RSVPs, comments, and likes. 

Community is a collection of threads, not unlike Reddit, where people can post about any number of things. Want to promote an upcoming album release? Need a new drummer? Maybe you’re a promoter in search of an opening act. Whatever your need, this section allows you the freedom to express it.

Anyone can make a show flyer or community post! 

Map

The map function essentially contextualizes people’s profiles in a geographic layout. This is a cool feature, but its benefits are limited to showing exactly where each individual profile is. It’s a helpful tool, nonetheless. 

Explore

This page contains the meat and potatoes of the app. It provides full access to all other profiles on Plaze. A search bar at the top of the page offers a speedy look-up for specific people. Or you can scroll along casually, thumbing through profiles of Plaze users. (Plazers? Plazeers?)

To make it even more convenient, it splits up profiles into different categories based on each user’s expressed intent. Here are some of the subsections: Freelance Clients, Lookin’ For Bandmates, Jam For Fun, Find Local Shows, and Near You. It’s as simple as sending a message. From there, you’re free to discuss as you please! You can even curate your own feed, narrowing it down to your specific need.

Closing Thoughts: Is Plaze worth it? 

Plaze offers an entirely free platform for exploring your scene. You stand to lose nothing, and the gains are immeasurable. it’s not limited to musicians, either. Plaze is perfect for artist-designers, audio engineers, promoters, podcasters, videographers, and journalists. Every creative personality is capable of offering (and monetizing) their skills with this app.

The most inspiring part of Plaze is the way it injects a burst of democracy into an experience historically fraught with crossed arms, naysayers, and gatekeepers. Gone are the days of not being able to find the right band members. And never again will you be burdened with the task of having to cold message a show promoter on Instagram, only to be left on read time and time again. 

I can speak from experience regarding the difficulties of finding something as seemingly common as a good photographer. You end up just asking a friend with a camera and, oftentimes, you’re underwhelmed with the final product. With Plaze, freelancers are provided a large pool of potential clients and vice versa. 

Just like every punk-rocker has a conversion story— a discovery of new, challenging, artistic integrity in the face of an otherwise bland, corporate landscape— so too may every DIY soul be converted into a Plaze-user (Plazite? Plazian? I hate this bit) and reimagine the possibilities of local art. 

Even if they don’t f*ck with Green Day.

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