Total Pageviews

Popular Posts

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


ICON MAGAZINE City Beat, January 2014

We headed to the Suzanne Roberts Theater to catch Nerds, the recently rejuvenated Hal Goldberg musical that created a buzz on the Roberts stage in 2007. Then as now, the epic story of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates took the audience by storm. The final scene, with Jobs in Heaven, was the jolt we needed (besides the give-way Nerds glasses) before heading to the post-play reception where a joyous Sara Garonzik shook a lot of hands. Though many Roberts regulars were not present, there were still crowds around the buffet table (food is the new gold). We chatted with Neal Zoren who let it be known that Nerds may be headed to Broadway. While we didn’t wear the Nerd glasses immediately (like the so many of the millennials present), when we put them on in the subway we swear we heard somebody murmur, “Bill Gates!”

We headed to PAFA to meet the effervescent Tish Ingersoll, and check out another alumni art show. Miniature canvasses lined the walls of the former PAFA bookstore but we preferred the paintings in the room’s small alcove which also doubles as a good conversation space. With Lisa Heyman, Noel Miles and PAFA student Charles Schultz, we said hello to artist Bill Scott although Scott left before he could hear our discussion about whether the miniatures could be merged into a single collage of Jane Golden-proportions. Our least favorite pieces were the Miami Beach glitz style pet portraits with jewelry embedded into the frames. We topped the evening off with a walk to Dirty Franks’ (where we hoped to meet poet Frank Sherlock) in order to catch “Cohabitation,” a photography exhibit exploring the merging of classical and modern styles in Philly. We spotted Thomas Carroll, an expert on Wissahickon German mystic, Johannes Kelipus, and Walton Van Winkle, artist/rancetour and a descendent of Cornelius Van Winkle, the publisher of Washington Irving’s first book. Van Winkle’s image of the Cira Center-- one of the more arresting pieces in the show—made us forget Dirty Frank’s reputation as a community match maker: more people here have met their spouses (and 11th hour pickups) than in almost any other bar in the city, despite Dirty Frank’s brash Wall mart-style lighting. Our booth, for instance, was directly under a high intensity (film noir interrogation) bulb, which made us think of old Glenn Ford films and which put us eye to eye with a Zoe Strauss imitation photo of a haggard and potentially angry woman (Kensington?) who was staring hard at something in the distance.

Sometimes we perform wedding ceremonies for couples who have problems with legalistic churches. Julie and Frank’s wedding at the First Unitarian Church in Center City was one for the books: Stretch limo, Rose pedals from China, candles, not to mention flows of happy tears. The reception and dinner on the 33rd Floor of the PSFS Building afterwards opened our eyes to the faults of the International Style. We’re not talking architecture but about the building’s use as a hotel. Maybe it was the holidays, but there were always crowds around the elevators. Whether one pressed Up or Down, the process took 15 minutes as agitated passengers did their best to look nonplussed although some could not suppress a sneer, a rolling of the eyes or an exasperated laugh. The Kabuki Theatre-sized lobby was no consolation either: it transformed small crowds into elbow-to-elbow congestion. For a design comparison, we headed across the street to the Marriot where the lobby was much more spacious and empty, but where the line to Starbucks snaked interminably out the door and into the lobby. It was packed with young female Irish dancers practicing intricate leg maneuvers that made their curly manes of hair bounce, a scene that inevitably made us think (somewhat tenderly) of city film rep, Sharon Pinkenson.

The Crystal Room (in Macy’s) was better before they carted out the original chandelier and replaced it with a faux imitation. We still loved our time under the lights celebrating The Attic’s 20th Anniversary Gala, Unlocking the Future. You have to love an organization that starts out in 1993 as tiny, weekly support group for lgbt teens and then grows into multi-service giant. The Who’s Who LGBT event kept us recognizing faces—from Mark Segal and Malcolm Lazin to a teacher we had at Great Valley High in Malvern. We chatted and exchanged smiles at the bar with an Asian/Latino/ couple (of indeterminate sex) as they sipped Shirley Temples. We also enjoyed watching Carrie Jacobs, PhD, The Attic’s Executive Director, being the belle of the ball. We wanted to ask Carrie to dance, as well as Philly Pride’s Franny Price, but the bulk of the dance time was taken up with auctioneering. We felt somewhat impoverished as smartly dressed couples threw out huge bid numbers, as if money grew on faux chandeliers. The Attic celebration was a superb compliment to the Philadelphia FIGHT for Life Gala at the Union League, where former Governor Ed Rendell was the official honoree for his long term commitment to AIDS/HIV communities. We met Chip Alfred, FIGHT’s new Director of Communications, Public Relations & Events, and told him how happy and relaxed he looked in his new position.

We admit to having reoccurring dreams of moving into a large and affordable Center City apartment house. This led us to the offices of Carol Sano, Resident Sales Manager of The Franklin Residences, who took us on a guided tour. The DiBruno Brothers market just off the lobby had us sampling different cheeses, and our tour of the 18th and 19th penthouses, had us immersed in skyline fantasies. If we ever sell out house, we’re moving to the Franklin, if only because of the rows of original framed Horace Trumbauer (Benjamin Franklin Hotel) blue prints that lined the corridor to the fitness room.

Over the years, we’ve noticed a tendency, especially among millennials, to travel in packs of ten or more when they head to clubs. We don’t know when this trend started but it is now at full tilt. Stand for a time at the El stop at Front and Girard on a weekend night and you will witness millennial armies walking in unison up Girard Avenue. When we were 21, we never went out on the town with this many people. We had friends, of course, and would arrange to do things with one o two at a time, but never ten or fifteen. The millennials always return to the El in much smaller numbers, which would make some (but not us) ask: What caused the downsizing? While it may be possible to corral fifteen people to leave from point A, keeping them together for the duration of a pub crawl just isn’t possiible. The millennials who do walk back to the El alone usually hail a cab rather than wait for SEPTA. Waiting curbside, alone, for a bus seems to be the last thing they want to do. While the city can be a wonderful place, there’s always talk of danger, some of it warranted and some of it exaggerated. The people who exaggerate the dangers have the edge every time. Their message has saturated the suburbs. We know how suburbanites exaggerate their dislike of the city: how two murders becomes twenty, how every dilapidated neighborhood, even those experiencing high gentrification, harbors a rapist or two, a knife wielding maniac, muggers, or homeless people ready to breathe on you with their stale fish breath. In the Teflon shopping malls of Exton or Radnor, there are no such horrors, although death by boredom is the number one killer there..

While we love a cute baby as much as anyone else, we don’t think that infants in swaddling clothes belong next to corporate buffet tables filled with sushi and gourmet cheeses. For starters, some of the babies we’ve seen at these functions look like they were born yesterday.

While attending (the otherwise wonderful) Voith & Mactavish Architects holiday party celebrating their new offices at 2401 Walnut Street, we noticed a small child being taken out of a stroller and placed on the floor of the reception room while party goers circled the stroller with drinks, plates of crab, blue cheese and slices of roast pig. Not only was the stroller blocking much needed room in that confined space, but the baby’s daddy insisted on giving the child walking lessons in the middle of the floor, making it necessary for guests to take “design” detours around them in order to avoid a collision. Daddy, meanwhile, was all smiles and not the least embarrassed about the public display. He reminded us of a fisherman waiting for a bite only in this case he was fishing for compliments. While a few party goers did stop and say, “Oh, what a cute little baby!” most looked the other way and ignored the show, almost as if they were thinking, “Haven’t you ever heard of a babysitter?”

The world of pet ownership has changed drastically in the last twenty years. We got a sense of this when we watched Sunday Bloody Sunday, an old film by John Schlesinger (starring Murray Head and Glenda Jackson), that we first saw in the Seventies. The London-based love story shows the death of the family dog when the dog is hit by a car while racing across the street. The reaction of the characters at the death stunned us. They frown, look a little distraught, but within seconds they recompose themselves and talk about “getting another one,” as if they were talking about replacement ping pong balls. In today’s more pet emphatic environment, there would be considerable grief at the death, possibly even an extreme reaction comparable to the death of a child.

We did our best to cover The Woodland’s Second Annual Madeira Party, but were told “No press invited.” What would The Woodland’s namesake, William Hamilton have to say about this? We’re pretty sure this is it: “The will of the world is never the will of God.”.
Happy New Year~!