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Saturday, April 18, 2015

                                             ICON MAGAZINE CITY BEAT APRIL 2015
                                                                     Thom Nickels

   We fell down the Who’s Who rabbit hole at the Reading Terminal’s fifth annual Party for the Market fundraiser. Some sightings: Lynne Abraham, whose white hair recalled the bonnets of absent Amish and Mennonite vendors; the large, moon-shaped eyes of DA Seth Williams, staring fixedly into space and reminding us of Transcendental Meditation; and City Council-at-Large candidate Paul Steinke, who seemed to be surveying his old work site. The Market’s promise of unlimited food, drink and dancing held true even though we never did locate Molly Malloy’s Breakfast Buffet or the gypsy palm readers. Our cozy chat with Greta and Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger (while munching a Hershel’s Mini Reuben) preceded two other sightings: Judy Wicks’ comet of long white hair and a Seth Williams redux, his TM eyes still dilated.  

Crowds at the Philadelphia Flower Show this year were rock concert thick. Ice, snow and sleet didn’t deter the armies of mommies with strollers, serenading couples, or the leg weary huddled masses camped out on carpeted corridors like stand by passengers at Philadelphia International. The public’s violent obsession for a spring flower infusion seemed to parallel Tennessee Williams’ quip: “The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.” PFS has come a long way since its first show in 1829, the same year that Eastern State Penitentiary welcomed its first prisoners. At the PFS lgbt party we counted less drag queens and familiar faces than we did last year. The party’s guest of honor, Pam Grier, and host Josh Middleton’s on site interview could hardly be heard because of a botched sound system.

 At the opening of U-Bahn at 1320 Chestnut Street familiar faces dominated: AD Amorosi, Toni and Suzi Nash, Kory Aversa, Bobbi Booker, Nathan Lerner and I Am a Camera, HughE Dillon. The photo op extravaganza included lots of interlocked arms, group hugs, and bar-fueled smiley faces.  Introverts had no place to hide in this tight. German style subway bunker space. Dillon must have taken a million shots but only a few showed up on, proving that even the best poses often wind up on the cutting room floor.  


  The annual Red Ball held at Memorial Hall’s Please Touch Museum to benefit the Red Cross attracted over 1400 guests many of whom rode the carousel or “drove” a faux Septa bus. We met the newly crowned Miss Philadelphia, Julia Rae Schlucter, 22, currently enrolled at Fordham University, and a dead ringer for Grace Kelly. Julia will go on to compete in the Miss Pennsylvania contest in June. We chatted with Jane and Roger Willig of Norristown and Center City, and told Lenny Bazemore of Bazemore Galleries that the only wine on hand was Barefoot Wine, a step up from Manischewitz and definitely low rent. “Tell them to come to the Bazemore,” Lenny said, implying that his wine wears good shoes. The mostly dessert-heavy ball had us wondering about diabetes and extra pounds, but with the Red Cross nearby, most opted to indulge.   

The Bach At Seven Cantata series (Choral Arts Philadelphia) is one of our favorite monthly events, transporting mini concert goers to the high gothic realms of the city’s most beautiful Episcopal churches. But how about switching Bach for Chopin At Seven; Baroque At Seven; Mozart At Seven; Stravinsky At Seven, or maybe even Wagner At Seven?  Choral Arts could even pair up with Moore Brothers Wine Company, the event’s libations provider, to do an all-Moore composer program: Carman Moore At Seven; the 18th Century composer Thomas Moore at seven; Australian composer Kate Moore at seven, or the award winning Dorothy Rudd Moore at Seven. This Moore on Moore action would surely make the snail’s pace after concert wine line move a lot faster.

We attended a lecture at the Athenaeum in Philadelphia’s Washington Square. The subject matter was the life of Saint Katharine Drexel, the Catholic saint canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000. The speaker was Cordelia Biddle, a direct descendant of Francis Martin Biddle, grandfather of Saint Katharine Drexel and Nicholas Biddle, president of the Second Bank of the United States. Cordelia was just getting into her  talk– expounding on Katharine’s wicked sense of humor, and explaining that before she enetered the convent  she was "the Paris Hilton of her time," when something unsettling happened..She stopped talking and put her left hand to her head as she slumped to the floor, landing with a thump. Gasps could be heard among the audience. There was a frozen feeling in the room as people in the front rows attended to the fallen speaker.  While the Athenaeum brass waited for the ambulance to arrive, the audience was ushered into an adjoining room for an early reception, where a mostly somber mood prevailed. Cordelia survived the fainting and is back on the lecture circuit.

Photos: Paul Steinke, The Red Ball, Barefoot Wine (Ugh!)