Philadelphia. This is something I have wanted to say to you for a long while. Hey, I’m only bothering to say it now as it’s become a real problem between you and I.
The repetition thing where you take an almost clever line (I said almost) or something of a funny joke and run it deep into the ground. Take the Eagles’ “bleed green,” meme. I got it. We’re green. Or making sure to pause then hastily include “sisterly” in the ancient phrase “City of Brotherly AND__ Love.” Point taken. Fun.
Now, it’s Trump’s “Bad things happen in Philadelphia” quote snipped from Biden debate No. 1 and turned into the most quoted Philly political line since Mayor Kenney said he’d get rid of the Art Museum encampments first back in May (personally, I think the homeless just got bored having to hear Kenney repeat himself, and left). Within an hour, the dumb Trump quote became a (still, as of this date) heavily repeated and over-used by every local news outlet, scribe and TV/Radio host, a decal on way too many T-shirts, and a constant Zoom conversation starter.
ENOUGH, PEOPLE. Bad things always have and always will occur in the City of Brotherly AND…. GOT YOU. We don’t need Trump to inform us of our minuses or our plusses (that is, if you turn “bad,” into “baaaad” and remind everyone that Philly gave the world great things such as Marian Anderson, Jerry Blavat, The Roots, organ trio jazz and Scrapple – YES, SCRAPPLE), and really, people should be saving the money they’d spend on those stupid T-shirts, and use it for hand sanitizer, paper towels, steroids and the bootleg Regeneron coming down the (Baltimore) Pike.
Speaking of Philly-born organ jazz by the way – and we can do this all day with the DeFrancesco family, Jimmys Smith and McGriff, Trudy Pitts, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Bill Doggett – on Friday, Oct. 16, Philly’s Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble will celebrate one of the fine-as-wine local organ players, jazz and bluesman Charles Earland (“The Mighty Burner”) with special guest Will Wright on the organ as part of the Bynum Bros’ South’s Live & Live Streamed series. That’s right, you can either buy the gig online or head to the club and see it in person ALL in tribute to the Bynum’s Zanzibar Blue and its 30th anniversary. Check southjazzkitchen.com.
New Sandler comedy
Philly born-and-raised baller Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors point guard and Olympic gold medal winner – will appear in bearded Geno Steaks’ enthusiast Adam Sandler’s new “Hustle” comedy for Netflix, currently being filmed around town by local director Jeremiah Zagar. Before or after his cheesesteak, the Sandman also stopped by George’s Music in Berwyn to hold some guitars with a FB snap to prove it: facebook.com/GeorgesMusicBerwyn.
So, gaining two upcoming restaurants from the flavor king, Guy Fieri – one self-named Taco Joint, one self-named Burger Joint, both with “super melty cheese” ugh, and both at the too-close-for-comfort opening of Philadelphia Live Casino in South Philly – does not make up for losing Stephen Starr area restaurants (Buddakan, Continental) even if that area is miles away in Atlantic City. Reading the fine print of the Starr announcement, though, reveals an unhappy possibility: that Starr’s towering tony hacienda Alma de Cuba, his longtime collab with Chef Douglas Rodriguez, may soon go under the knife and re-freshen its concept in the near future like what Starr is doing at The Continental Old City? I better get my Rodriguez fix of bacon-wrapped dates and pork bellies soon.
Looking at my cover on The Roddenberries on his week’s PW – and I look at each of my Weekly covers lovingly and collectively, often, like a big bouquet of paper roses – I am reminded that the Trekkian space ensemble’s percussionist, Joe Tayoun, has his own thing brewing this weekend. Unless it rains, then it is the weekend after. To benefit those families and properties torn asunder by Aug. 4’s ammonium nitrate accident in Beirut, Tayoun and the Bitar family of Cherry Hill, who own Norma’s Mediterranean Restaurant, have created a nonprofit organization, the Cedar Diaspora, and will host an all-day benefit event Oct. 18 (rain date Oct. 25) on the lawn of the Scottish Rite mansion in Collingswood. The event, Baba and Beers: A Benefit for Beirut, features multi-course tasting menus and local brewery collaborations as well as day-long, back-to-back performances by West Philadelphia Orchestra, Monko, Kenny Ulancey’s band, Jaffna, the Mid-East Ensemble, and Barakka, Joe Tayoun’s ensemble with his fellow Roddenberry and keyboardist (and brother) Billy Tayoun. Plus, there’ll be belly dancing by Meesha and Nyla if focusing on charity isn’t your thing. Tickets start at $100 (food, booze and Barakka all day, people), the event is 21 and up, and you can find out more at cedardiaspora.com.
Masked Philly: Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou
In Icepack’s continuing saga of asking mask-donning local celebrities what they’ve been up to beyond the pale during C-19, this week I reached out to Philly AIDS Thrift co-founder Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou. She is busy as hell this week, running a 15th anniversary store sale and screening “Beetlejuice” in a drive-in theater setting, all to benefit HIV/AIDS service organizations – 26 in number last year, splitting nearly $300,000 in award monies – with 2020’s achievements topping that: a whopping $3 million donation in fundraising bucks is the number that Philly AIDS Thrift has awarded in 15 years, raised and given away to dozens of organizations. Proceeds from the weekend sale and the drive-in will now be the first monies toward the next million. The new grant cycle will open in November.
During the stretch of the lengthy quarantine, however, Christina and her husband, Chef Bobby Saritsoglou, were able to spend a lot of time together. “Which is so rare since we’re both working constantly at either Philly AIDS Thrift and at our restaurant, Stina,” she said. “It was actually such a treat to have my husband at the house, making three home-cooked meals, from scratch, every single day. Each Friday we would pick a different country, put together a menu and dress up. It was so much fun.”
When it comes to making sure she’s masked up, Christina is vigilant. “It’s important that we wear our masks to keep one another safe, and since we spend so much time wearing them now, it’s also really important to be comfortable and have fun at the same time. I’ve found a really great mask maker, Anh Dang , whose creations range from images of fantastic Cats, the Golden Girls, Gritty, to beautiful vintage Japanese floral prints. Plus, he donates a portion of his sales to local nonprofits.”
Like everyone, Kallas-Saritsoglou is dreaming of the day when we can finally take off our masks forever. “I’d apply a fresh new coat of Va-Va Violet lipstick and give big hugs and kisses on everyone’s cheeks,” she said of the momentous post-pandemic occasion. Until then, she’ll start gathering steam on the next Philly AIDS Thrift fundraising cycle, which begins this November, and is planning for Halloween. “Even though things are different this year, Halloween is always something we’re excited about at Philly AIDS Thrift. October is always the most lively, busiest time of the year. And although there won’t be parties like before, there are folks who are in social bubbles who can still gather safely and have fun dressing up.”