Sunday, May 31, 2009

Art Star Craft Bazaar - Teaser

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This morning I joined Peacock Feathers and friends for brunch and a stroll through the Art Star Craft Bazaar at Penn's Landing.


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While it seemed like there were a lot less booths and vendors, there was still plenty to see. Like this super cool necklace from Brookadelphia. Stay tuned for a few of my favorite finds!

When I have money, art-crafters will rejoice!


I have a feeling all of us at OFP were down at Penn's Landing this weekend for the Art Star Craft Bazaar, at one point or another. I'm sure each of us had favorites--here were mine!

First prize goes to Rachel Sherman of Malagueta. Her card says "wearable art, surface design, upholstery" and she ain't kidding. The skirts and tops she designed each featured amazing modern graphic designs in stitching and layers of applique, both subtle and stunning at once, and exquisitely (and ingeniously!) fitted. The pillows displayed similar abstract topstitching and intricately pieced fabrics. There were even sweet little fabric handbags! I fell in love with a skirt that I would have bought a week ago, before Quicken informed me what my monthly expenditures have been of late ... as it was, I came ever-so-close to blowing my budget and buying at the very least a pillow. Instead, I took pictures. Sherman doesn't have an online shop yet, but maybe drop her a line at rachelsherman@hotmail.com and let her know she should!

Second place goes to the duo of Alexandra Snook of adorn natural and Edward Way of wook woodworking with their beautiful wood jewelry and furniture. Way's bamboo honeycomb shelving was the talk of the bazaar, and I absolutely adored his tiered cherry cabinet with sliding doors. And I have every intention of visiting Snook's website to buy her three-circle necklace, a cleanly modern design in ebony and sapwood. (Image courtesy of their shop at etsy.)

And third place, with special mention for what-a-great-idea!, goes to Nicole Kulp of Recycle My Dress. Got a bridesmaid's or special occasion dress that you shelled out a bunch of cash for but can't imagine ever wearing again? A dress that while lovely, simply SCREAMS "someone else is making me wear this so that I match a tablecloth"? Send it to Nicole! She'll collaborate with you to come up with alterations that will make that dress both beautiful and wearable. I gotta check my mom's closet to see if she saved any of those old prom dresses from the 80s ... or, dare I say it, my wedding dress? Oh, fun!

I managed not to buy anything at the bazaar. I did, however, just buy that necklace online. After all, the recession can't last forever, but a beautiful piece of wearable art can last a lifetime!

Ignore Mom, Talk to Strangers


Last night, I did something that some may find unusual, but for me is completely routine. I went out sans friends on a Saturday night. After my usual begging of my friends to dance with me, I was turned down. The truth is that my friends don't dance. And never will, no matter how much fun I have or the crazy stories I tell, they will never be enticed to grinding their aging asses to the latest music.

Even though I love going out dancing alone, I have adopted strategies to try to find dancing partners. Dating sites have been the most successful ways I've met dancing partners. Generally, I play it off as a platonic thing, just friends. And after they watch me dance, which is not a pretty thing, the last thing they want is a sweaty kiss from me.

My dance partner for the night was Larry, a 30 year old who had recently transplanted from Western New York. He described himself as an aging raver, which made me wonder what I am as I'm older than him. He posted an announcement looking for something to do that night. And with very little to go on except his picture and his profile which stated "I'm weird" I went for it. I invited him to the monthly Live Forever party at the Barbary. I'm ashamed to admit I've never danced at the Barbary and had been dying to go.

After vetting Larry through 1.5 hours of IM and a 20 minute phone call, we decided to meet. Larry showed up earlier than me and was in full swing when I got there. My first reaction was displeasure that he was wearing a headband, but then I realized that was the theme of the night, "Get Physical" so party organizers were handing out colorful sweatbands.

I'm glad Larry was weird because he was such a good sport about checking out a dance venue with a total stranger. And a dance venue where people were wearing nerdy gym gear and leotards. We danced a lot until he got picked up by another woman. I spent about an hour sort of dancing sort of near them before I got bored. I ended up meeting this guy Brian who was a good looking hipster and we danced through acting out Wonderwall. Miming in dance is very fun. I highly recommend it.

Sadly, I completely lost Larry, who had become a dear friend in the 3 hours that I had known him. Oh well, I thought that I'd text him another day (sadly his cell was temporarily cut off do to lack of funds. Recession is a bitch). But happily, I ran into Larry at the bus stop (we both are too poor to have cars). He thought I abandoned him, which I didn't. We hugged. And now he's my new best friend.

Emboldened by my success in talking to strangers, I chatted up a guy at the bus stop while I was saying goodnight to Larry. On the bus ride home I chatted with Sam, who is a progressive activist in Philly. So am I (sorta) and he used to live in West Philly (me too). And we share a mutual friend, so we had tons to talk about. He's an organizer for Philly for Change, a group I've wanted to join but was too shy. So I guess I'll go to their next meetup upcoming on a Wednesday. I got his number before he got off the bus.

So there you have it, I met three strangers last night. And I lived to tell the tale.

So I'm going dancing next weekend, who's with me?

Day 6 - Blogger Challenge

no. 6 Large

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Friend That Needs a Daytimer


She is always late, or cancelling at the last minute. I have to add an extra thirty minutes to an hour to my plan for the day while I wait for her to catch up. It’s as if she doesn’t start getting ready to go out the door until at least five minutes after she said she would be there. You know it’s going to happen every time, yet you keep scheduling things with her. I should probably send reminder texts three days before, the morning of, and one hour before we are supposed to hang out. But then I would be carrying the friendship, the burden of effort on my shoulders. And what kind of friendship is that?

I stop scheduling things with her and then she sees me out one day and has the nerve to say something like, “where have you been? You just kinda disappeared.”

I didn’t disappear. I stopped reaching out to you because I find you disrespectful of my time. She is likely afraid to set boundaries around her time. She struggles with the ability to make a commitment. She can’t phone in advance or ask me to meet her somewhere where I won’t be inconvenienced by her tardiness. She rarely apologizes, yawns on the phone when she giggles over her forgetfulness and tells me it will never happen again, “can we reschedule?”

The Darker Side to Growing Online Fame


Recently someone asked the question whether if the proverbial tree actually fell if it wasn't Twittered about. I responded that I'd require Twitpics to believe the tree and the forest actually existed. Now that I am following an olio of personal friends, celebrities, and local folks I wish were my friends, I feel like I am living in a reality show. And while much of it is rooted in reality, a lot of it is staged.

I've succumbed to following celebrities on Twitter. I have no interest in following Ashton Kutcher and his struggling to be still be relevant squeeze Mrs. Kutcher (that's what she calls herself on Twitter), but the Kutchers' comments about the Twitter tv show were big news. Kutcher (Ashton said this, but presumably Demi concurs) states that a Twitter show would encourage stalking.

My question is what kind of stalking? Encourage us to hang on their every tweet, view their movies, purchase their products? Twitter stalking is highly unsatisfying and is sophisticated PR. Ethan Suplee of the now cancelled Earl (He was Randy) completely sucked me into his world with his pseudo personal tweets about his sarcastic family. He posted a Twitpic of his daughter and I went for the bait. The photo was of his daughter with her hand blocking the camera. That reminded me that Twitter are not unscripted moments for the famous. I know their publicists are in on the game. (Has Entourage shown Ari Gold on Twitter yet? If not now, then soon).

My friends who Twitter often put up tantalizing pieces of information, but unless I am actually talking to them on the phone or by DM, I'm never getting invited to all the things they talk about. Sometimes it's tempting to do a pop in when somebody I've never met says, "come out tonight," but I know they aren't talking about me. They are talking to their friends and I am an eavesdropper.

But this stalking thing is a real issue. I've known people who have gotten very enthusiastic and has started following me on every possible social networking site. One time I was chatting via gchat with a guy and then signed off- an hour later then he found me on another social media site and said "I thought you were going to bed, but here you are." But as long as he doesn't start showing up at my bbq's, it's manageable. I can't make light of this issue because I know several people who have been relentlessly followed on the internet. But I think the Ashton Kutcher's of the world might have more potential stalkers, us regular people don't have fences, moats with alligators or bodyguards to protect us.

I think those of us who are active on Facebook, myspace, Twitter and other social media have developed public personas and what is really interesting is our private lives intersect with the public. There is a lot more I can talk about, but I must get ready to go out dancing. You will know my whereabouts because I already posted updates on Twitter and Facebook.

I will develop this topic in a later blog post. I appreciate comments.

The Pain of Collateral Damage


As I mentioned in yesterday's post (okay, it was just a couple hours ago, but technically yesterday), I'm getting a divorce. I instigated it, and so I feel supremely guilty even though I recognize all the very good reasons for it and the mutuality of the things-aren't-working-ness of it. But overall I recognize how this has been the best decision I could possibly have made, and I don't for a moment regret having made it. But.

Then there's my five-year-old son.

He's part of my reason for leaving (though I would never breathe those words to him), in that for two months prior to that fateful day he asked me on a near-daily basis, "Mommy, are you sad again?" I would cry uncontrollably in front of him. I would have to leave the room, but sometimes I couldn't even manage that, and one time I crumpled up on the floor and sobbed while my sweet, darling, sensitive, smart, beloved boy watched. There is no pain that can beat that, at least in my experience--knowing I'm causing him grief, knowing I can't stop myself. I was deeply depressed, and contemplated contemplating suicide. In other words, I didn't think about me doing it, I wasn't making a plan--but I could understand why someone would. The decision to end one's life no longer seemed irrational or impossible or even necessarily wrongheaded. That scared me.

So, I got a great therapist, I got on some lovely meds, and my fog cleared. I looked at my life and saw, maybe not clear as day but perhaps clear as an early morning sunrise with the mist and the dew but the promise of blue sky later on, that I had to leave. As soon as I could, I told my husband, whom I still care for and like, that I wanted a divorce. And although this has turned my world on its ear, I haven't regretted it, for myself.

But as it sinks into my son's psyche that this is the New World Order, that Mommy and Daddy aren't going to move back in together, that ahead of him stretch years of back-and-forth from my apartment to his dad's house and vice versa, that we may have dinner together or go to the occasional party together or laugh at each other's jokes but we aren't ever going to be in bed together in the morning when he wakes up and comes into the parental bedroom for a morning snuggle--as all this happens, he's feeling all the grief and anger and frustration and pain one would expect. I'm watching it happen, and I'm trying to be as understanding and loving and supportive and open to him as possible. Even so, when his little eyes just melt into tears and he says he wishes we weren't having the divorce, I feel completely helpless.

I don't have a good story arc for this post. I wish I did, I wish I had a neat beginning, middle, and end. Oh how I want that happy end! But instead all I have is a sad little boy whose bubbling laugh--the one that makes my world go all technicolor--I hear less often, whose anger gets the best of him more often, whose sense of the world and his place in it is suddenly coming unhinged. I know it'll get better. I know I can't sacrifice my own sanity and happiness for the unsustainable illusion of a happy nuclear family. But right now I just want my boy to smile.

Day 5 - Blogger Challenge

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Mother Knows Best



When my firm called to tell me they were sending me to Philadelphia, I cried. I was on vacation with my mother at the Jersey Shore. She came out East after her double mastectomy to attend her brother’s wedding. It was a windy day, she clutched a straw hat over her freshly bald head and I huddled under the beach umbrella, cupping the receiver of my cell phone with my right hand. When I hung up, I did something I hadn’t done since I was a child. I placed my head in my mother’s lap and cried.

My sobs emoted frustration that I was leaving New York and anger that someone else got to make that decision for me. It wasn’t just that Manhattan moved at the pace of lightning, was a copious smorgasbord of options, limitlessly exciting and offered a never-ending supply of eclectic and interesting people. It was that after ten years roaming the world for a place to grow up, I thought I had finally found it and had already begun to plant the seeds of my future. And now I was being asked to uproot this foundation for a city I had never even wanted to visit.

“I hear it’s nice there,” My mother said, running her hands through my hair as if she were recalling what it felt like to have it.

“I don’t care if it’s nice. It’s not New York.”

“You could quit.” She suggested. And I considered it. In fact, for the next week I looked at job postings, updated my resume, and went on interviews.

When the move seemed inevitable, I recruited my glamorous New York model friend Janice to accompany me down on the Amtrak for a 4th of July scouting mission. We stepped off the train with our Lonely Planet guide, took in the Philly humidity, walked over the Schuylkill, down Market Street, past a sleazy strip club, past The Salvation Army and past the industrial high-rises. We turned right on 17th and stepped over a variety of homeless people laid out along our path like dead bodies on a battle field. The streets looked barren, entire blocks without people bustling by on their way to somewhere important. Stores were closed for the weekend. When we arrived in a vacant Rittenhouse Square, I was aghast at its small size. One quarter the size of Bryant park, 1/8th the size of Union Square where I lived in Manhattan. Janice tried to be positive.

“ Look at all the cute little shops,” she said.

“What? H&M? Zara? Anthro? Yipee. I pass two of each when I bring my laundry to the dry cleaners on 5th avenue,” I told her.

We went to Continental on Chestnut and all I could think about was how much fun we could be having in New York instead of swinging in these campy chairs at a TGIF knock-off. We tried to walk to Old City but eventually believed the locals claim that it was “too far to walk”. We went to get a room at the Raddison along Chestnut and there was an intoxicated shoeless woman arguing with the front desk staff through a bullet proof glass divider. As the confrontation escalated I let out the breath I had been holding in since the train station and asked Janice if we could just get the last train back to New York.

“Think we could make it back in time for Pomme Frites at Pastis?” she said.

I called my company the next day to tell them I couldn’t do it. They convinced me it would only be for three months. I convinced myself that it would pass quickly. I had been assigned an amazing client and would be promoted to running an entire campaign. This would be good for my career, and I could do anything for three months. Right?

It was a sweltering hot day in Philly when I unpacked my bags into a monthly rental house on Meredith Street in Fairmount. Coming from my tinsy NYC apartment, the idea of an entire house to myself was just decadent. I was amazed that for half the price of my NYC apartment, I was living in a furnished three story row house with original wood floors and beamed ceilings. Outside was a narrow cobblestone street carrying along the occasional dog walker. After I moved in all my bags and unpacked, I sat outside on a real Philly stoop like they did in all the movies I liked to watch when I was a kid growing up in Seattle. They don’t have stoops in Seattle.

I wandered down to Fairmount and found a place that sold hoagies like they ate on the Cosby Show. I devoured it, savoring the doughy bread. I wandered down a little further to an ice cream shop where I watched the girl in front of my order a water ice. I gleefully ate my first water ice while I walked back to the house. I can do anything for three months, right?

I began as a tourist. I started with the double-decker hop-on/hop-off bus. I went to the Philly Zoo, I ran up the Rocky steps, I attended First Friday’s, and bowled in Northern Liberties. I joined match.com, took service commitments at the local AA meetings, and had stuffed French Toast at Sabrina’s. I moved into a furnished room on 10th and Clinton. I participated in the Pat or Geno’s cheese steak debate, I went three months drinking only Fantes coffee. I bought t-shirts for my girlfriends on South Street, I took the ferry to Camden to see John Mayer, I attended a Teamster picnic at Penn’s landing. I went to the Philly Flower Show and attended The Franklin Institute Awards.I moved into a garden townhouse in Old City. I made friends with every shopkeeper on 3rd street. I did the Wednesday night dinner at Fork with Ellen. I began dating the bartender at Positano. I took a writing class at The University of the Arts and threw barbecues in my back yard. I ate at Franklin Fountain every night.

Around 10:00 PM, I would roll into the Franklin Fountain and chat it up with my favorite soda jerk. A few friends would meet me at the end of the counter and we would pull back the hidden seats, and dip pretzels in our ice cream while we laughed and traded stories.

Three months came and went and I stayed in Philadelphia. The job went, and I stayed in Philadelphia. Philadelphia had something New York would never be able to give me. Time. Time to get to know the people in my life. Time to enjoy and appreciate every moment. Time to develop the sort of relationships that are helping me to grow up.

I think of my mother, holding my head in her lap and scratching my back softly, saying, “Oh honey, it will be okay. It will work out. Everything happens for a reason.”

the sin that keeps on giving ...


I'm in love.

No, really. Some of you may know this already, some may not, but it's true: I'm in love, and it feels fabulous.

I'm also going through a divorce right now, so there's that.

Regardless of what you might think of the wisdom of my relationship chronology, I'm not going to talk about that. At least, not yet--there are still a lot of days left in the blogging challenge! Instead, I want to talk a little bit about that thing that goes hand in hand with love: jealousy.

I used to be a jealous person. Just ask my ex. One time while he was on a business trip I deleted all his speed dials and erased every woman's number in his phone book (this was before cell phones). Of course he had to tell his mother why he was asking for his grandmother's number ... I guess it's a good thing he remembered his mother's phone number, or he might never have spoken to his female kin again.

In the past couple of years, though, my ability to redirect my energy from jealousy into constructive conversation has been tested and honed. I won't get into all the reasons for this, but suffice it to say that the most important thing I've learned is that jealousy is instructive. It's never about the other person, but rather about you--what you need to feel safe, and what your insecurities are. The only way to get past these things is to talk about them with your partner, in a non-confrontational way, for example like this:

"I've been feeling jealous of your friendship with Svetlana. I know I'm 5'8", but I've always wanted to be taller, and so when I saw her recent spread in W and then thought about her lithe 6'1" tall body, I felt jealousy taking over. It doesn't help exactly that in addition to modeling, she holds a Classics Ph.D. from Harvard, but I recognize that my feelings about her intelligence are only a reflection of my own frustration with my graduate school experience. I hope we can talk about this, though, so that you can help me feel better about your friendship with her, and help me move past these insecurities that are bothering me right now. I'd feel much better if you occasionally invited me along when you go for drinks with her. What do you think?"

At which point the beloved, if he or she is wise, has a long and involved conversation with you that ends with both people feeling loved and valued, preferably leading to the hot steamy sex.

And now, just to put myself out there, here are my triggers:

1. Youth. I'm dating a younger man, and no matter how ridiculous it sounds to both of us when I say it out loud, I can't help but shiver at the thought of smooth skin, high perky breasts, an unlined forehead, a still-tiny little uterus, and a maddening lack of grey hairs.
2. Educational pedigrees. I've spent the past nine years on a doctorate in English literature that I still don't have, and I'm completely stalled on my dissertation. I keep hoping that will change soon ... perhaps blogging will get me back writing? At any rate, I find myself loathing anyone who has completed a Ph.D., particularly if it's in English, and most particularly if it's at Penn or some other fancy-shmancy school. Sorry to be a hater, all y'all. I know you're my sistahs, really, but just shut up about turning the diss into a book when I'm within earshot, hear me? I mean, I can only soothe myself with snarky comments about your footwear for so long.
3. The creatively employed. I don't give a rat's ass if you're the lead in the Arden's latest or running the box office for some one-shot company no one's ever heard of. If you have a job with a creative employer, and that's your JOB that pays you MONEY with which you pay your RENT, you may be my friend but I still hate you, just a teeny bit.

Now, why I would waste a moment of time worrying my guy would drop me for a 26-year-old Ph.D.- (or MFA!)-holding lighting designer is beyond me. If he reads this he'll laugh out loud. The beautiful thing about it is, having written it, I'll be laughing with him.

After all, if he's fallen head over heels for a still-married, overeducated and under-degreed, essentially unemployed 36-year-old mother of a five-year-old, then what the hell would he want with someone else? I mean, he's got me.

Sunset Fridays: Music to Start Your Weekend

<-----(Jake Henry, DJing at Vango)

It's Friday night again and the summer of dance-tastic events continue. It's unbelievable how much fun is out there. Tonight, my friend Jake Henry will be DJing at Vango starting at 10 pm where he's had a residency for over six months. Tonight is special because tonight is the coming out party for his new digital label Silk Royal Records. Jake partnered with a man from the Russian Federation to start the label. Expect the music to be close to Jake's tastes...melodic progressive house. Music I think of date dance music. The kind of stuff that's good for dancing close.

A party showcasing Jake and the tracks he loves is always special. Perhaps the friendliest DJ in Philadelphia, he has a following that include friends he's had for most of his 26 years. And his mom, Dad, and talented singer sister, who are fixtures near the DJ booth. I got pulled into the cult of Jake about a year ago when I saw him and his close friends Ali Mahmud and Jason Evan DJ at Lucky Charm. I was one of 6 people dancing instead of bellied up at the bar drinking. Jake, Ali, and Jason gave me their promos and I became an instant fan.

In October, Jake and Ali started "Sunset Fridays" where they spun in the rooftop deck of lounge Vango at 18th and Sansom. Every other week, Jake, Ali and a rotation of special guests spun melodic and tech house while people had post work cocktails and appetizers. Jake and Ali have made a name for themselves in Philadelphia and their reputation is growing in New York. Ali has become a promoter with his company Mid Atlantic Trance and has worked to get world class trance artists to perform in NY and Philly. In fact, tomorrow Ali is busy with his coup of bringing producer Mike Koglin to Love in NYC.

I recommend you checking out Sunset Fridays at Vango (116 S. 18th St.) every other Friday from 6-10. No cover and food specials until 7 pm. And be sure to look for me. I'm there about 75% of the time.

Bargain Beauties

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One of my favorite things about this time of year is the abundance of plump, vibrant and inexpensive (!!) peonies. There is no flower more romantic, more lush and decadent. Their fragile blooms may only last for a few days, but as long as they remain they bring a certain joyousness to their surroundings. I mean, how can you look at this enormous cluster of peonies and not feel happy!

Peonies are at the very cheapest right now and are found most everywhere. At Floral Expressions on S. 18th Street (btw Sansom and Chestnut and shown above), a bunch can be had for $10. I stopped by today and picked up a couple stems ($2.95 each) to make this little arrangement for my entry table...

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So sweet, right? Think about treating yourself to some of these beauties - they are the perfect mood lifter! 

And I hope you all have a happy weekend!

The Summer Day

The recent One Fine Philly posts about life's twists and turns (Pop Culture Casualty) and our collective stories (carrel dweller ) has me thinking about one of my favorite poems. I find this piece by Mary Oliver inspiring, especially when life seems overwhleming. Perhaps you will find some inspiration in it, too...

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

-Mary Oliver

Day 4 - Blogger Challenge

no. 4 Large

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blogger Challenge, Day Three - Something Pretty


For the first time since I was 17 years old, I honestly have no idea if I will have enough money in my bank account to pay June’s rent. Yet, I still really want to buy something at this weekend’s Art Star Craft Bazaar. What is wrong with me?

As much as I want to appear consistently optimistic, meticulously organized and all around put together, I recently reached a new point of surrender. It’s embarrassing and I’m cringing at the idea of putting my brutally honest business out there into cyberspace where I have been carefully crafting my personal brand for the past year. But the weight on my shoulders has finally made me cave and I’m tired of hiding in a corner of isolation, afraid that you may see me sweat. There is freedom at reaching a bottom, as there is nowhere lower you can sink.

A year ago, I was an independent woman making a $140k salary, eating lunch in fancy restaurants, buying a new pair of heels every weekend, summering in the Hamptons, writing short stories, blissfully in love and living between a Union Square apartment and a garden townhouse in Old City.

In the last year, I lost my job, filed for unemployment for the first time, moved in with my boyfriend, lost my boyfriend, and got back together with my boyfriend. He broke his foot in four places, can no longer work and has moved into my apartment so I can look after him. Within a few short months, I’ve become unemployed, uninsured, a nurse and maid to a reluctant relationship, and someone that wears flats and goes to Ikea for Memorial Day.

I share this humiliation with you because I’m guessing I’m not the only one out there determined to survive. A legion of others are trying to keep it together, holding on by the last string, eating sandwiches for dinner and making coffee at home. We are all survivors.

When I was seventeen, I ran away from home and spent the next year sleeping on seat cushions I stole off my mother’s garden furniture. I woke up at 5:30 AM to make Lattes, worked 9 to 5 at Costco running SKU numbers, spent my evenings selling furniture at the Tacoma Mall and managed the apartment complex where I was living on “I” street. One day a week, I volunteered at the pound hosing down dog kennels. After time, I started my own business, paid my way through college and graduate school, and healed my family relationships. I survived.

When I was twenty-eight I moved to Washington DC with my fiancé and my Masters in International Relations. No one would hire me, I lost the fiancé to a horrible cheating accident, I lost my home, and I was fired from two waitressing jobs within two weeks of one another. Eventually, I was cast on a reality TV show, offered a fat salary for a job in Manhattan, moved to a charming exposed brick apartment in Union Square and started hanging out with supermodels. I survived.

This recent adventure of misfortune will be no different. Already, the experience has deepened my relationships, challenged me as a girlfriend, strengthened me as a female mentor and planted the seeds of a lucrative business plan. You see, no matter how far down I’ve gone, I’ve always been able to pull myself back up on my feet and be a better person for my suffering.

We will survive. I will survive. And I might even be able to buy something pretty at the Art Star Craft Bazaar. It just has to be something cheap.

One fish, two fish...

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I don't have much today, but since I've had jewelry on the mind I thought I would share these lovelies which are currently in the display case at Anthropologie on Walnut Street. Wouldn't they be great to wear for a big evening out? So quirky and dramatic, I declare them to be must haves.

Now Anthro, all you have to do is mark them 75% off. In which case, they will be on my ears tomorrow night!

ah, the humanity!

My life is full of confessions, professions of love and faith, avowals and disavowals offered by friends and strangers. Each one is a novel in a sentence, and I'll share just a few: the test was positive, on our first try. My friend died yesterday. If he moves to Florida, our son won't even remember him. I always cry at weddings. If he ever hurts my kids I'll kill him. I lost my job. I love my job. It's been six months since my last cigarette. It's been six months since I got the new liver. His hands were shaking and I felt a tear fall on my cheek. She was the perfect type for me. We had already given away the baby things. We kept a few little things, even after. I wondered if I'd ever wake up.

So many lives to write, so many stories!

The Highs and Lows of Strong Opinions


Everybody has an opinion and I am on the internet to read as many as I can and appropriate them for my nefarious uses. Some opinions I reshape and then restate as my own. These opinions rarely find new territory, but restate the obvious. Examples include #twittertrendofthemoment or a fresh opinion 5 days ago that now sounds cliche (eg. "nuke North Korea."). Parenthetical opinions are my particular favorite because one can hue factual content with shades of emotional unbalance (excessive traffic on 95 is ruining my life).

Sometimes other people's opinions seem necessary, almost important to one's functioning in daily life. And that is what the review is for me. Without someone else's opinion out it first, I rarely can enjoy a movie, a restaurant, a tourist attraction or even a date. I am devoted to reviews to the point where they sometimes are more satisfying than the real thing.

A really good review can spoiled the experience that is reviewed and I mean that in the best way. Sometimes it is good to be spoiled for the experience because then we have a reference point for our pleasure or pain. "Oh, Racer X reviewer was dead on about how the precious cinematography distanced me from the splatter of viscera." Or thank God this dorky reviewer, who I imagine as my only friend also disliked Star Trek.

For opinions that while not always credible, but rarely boring, I go to Yelp.com. Here I go to learn bits and pieces of a restaurant, attraction, or neighborhood so I can have a better experience. I've used Yelp specifically to pick an entree, lessen my fear of a trendy bathroom, or get the basic details of a place. There are some regular contributors to Yelp who are like columnists there. @Chrissmari is my favorite of people of that ilk. She is a goddess (trollop?) of the internet because she gets around.

Day 3 - Blogger Challenge

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Gentleman, Start Your Engines!"


Tonight it is a race against time to get this blog up and meet the challenge deadline of midnight. I'm counting on this challenge to bring my writing back to life. Right now it's road kill, bleeding profusely and barely moving on the side of the cyber-highway.While I know that today the pen weighs ten tons, tomorrow will be easier. That is just the way it goes with writing.

When I first started to blog in 2005, my blogs read like diary entries - Really juicy stories of an exciting New York life. I didn’t proofread or spell check, there was rarely a point, and the writing style was inconsistent and, well, pretty much sucked. Over time that changed.

With practice, stories began to emerge with beginnings, middles and ends. I established a consistent voice and developed my writing style. Publishing daily really elevated my writing and I hope that this challenge will have the same effect.

Writing has been a safe spot most my life. When I was a troubled teenager, I wrote through a lot of my more difficult life stories. I poured my anger and shame into wide ruled pages of a spiral notebook that I hid under my bed. In my twenties, I cataloged every love, every date and every painful moment of rejection. My early thirties are saved in a file on my desktop marked “Daily Log”.

Since I stopped blogging daily, I keep my daily log filled with stories, feelings, ramblings, rants and prayers. I write them as if no one will ever read them. I don’t try to tell a story, I just try to fill the page and in the process empty out every negative thought or fear being harbored in my brain. I also use the pages to be grateful and appreciate all the gifts in my life. Writing outside of the safety of my log is a little bit scary. Am I ready to let the outside world back into my fragile heart?

I don't know if I'm quite ready, but it's time to just jump. Over the years, writing has been my very best friend. Sometimes I stray, but she is always waiting for me with open arms whenever I wish to come back. It’s been a tough year and I need her more than ever.

Let's get blogging and see where this challenge takes us!

A Fashion Rant for the Fellas

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As we all know, there are many sartorial sins committed each day throughout our fair city. Don't even get me started on the fact that leggings are now being accepted as a reasonable substitute for pants... that's for another time. What I'm here to address is my biggest fashion pet peeve, and this one is being perpetrated by our male counterparts. I am talking about Oakley-style sunglasses being worn with a business suit or any other form of street clothes.

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Every day I walk around this city and I am constantly presented with men in their dress shirts and khakis, strolling to lunch or wherever, donning a ridiculous pair of wrap-around performance glasses such as one might wear to, say, cycle in the Tour de France. Gentleman, may I ask... do you put on running shoes with your business suit? I didn't think so. Seriously, unless you are headed over to Citizen's Bank Park to field fly balls on your lunch break, you should consider purchasing a second pair of sunglasses, something appropriate for non-athletic pursuits. For instance, no one has ever gone wrong with a pair of classic Ray-Ban aviators.

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Shopping can be a pain, but it can also be fun... especially when you are searching for something that has the ability to make you look like George Clooney or Daniel Craig, instead of A-Rod hanging in the dugout. And there are many stores in Center City with a selection to satisfy every taste and facial shape. Try Macy's for a wide range of brands and price points, A/X Armani Exchange or Banana Republic for something urban and sleek, Urban Outfitters for the hipster or hipster-at-heart, or Modern Eye at 13th and Walnut for the unique and fashion-forward.

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International fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld with his bear doppleganger, also named Karl.
I do not advocate buying a cool pair of sunglasses for your Mini Me, but to each his own.

I am aware of the frustration that might be associated with buying a second pair of sunglasses. You might be thinking, "the ones I have are perfectly fine; they block the sun, and don't fall off my face when I get tackled or hit by an errant pitch." But why not consider them like shoes, or really anything else in your wardrobe, in the fact that not every item serves every purpose. And believe me, you will look more handsome and more pulled together. I will certainly thank you, and I have a feeling the ladies in your life will too.

Why this post might have been late but isn't.



My son woke up at 5:55 this morning. As he crawled into bed next to me I gave him a big kiss--mainly because he usually wants breakfast NOW and can't be convinced to eke out another hour of snooze. So, we woke up around 7 and I rushed him off to school via car share. He goes to preschool in South Jersey, but that's another story. Traffic sucked on the way back in, but I managed to park (in a lot) and get into my doctor's appointment by 9:15. Back out by 10:00, prescription in hand (again, another story). I have the car for another 2 hours, so off to Ikea I go. On the list: a wicker cat tree and a kitchen cart. I get these, plus three bookshelves from the as-is section.It is important to note here that I had a Prius. Paying for it all makes me want to curl up all fetal, but then I realize I have 45 minutes to get the car back. I back into the loading zone and a dude helps me get the biggest bookshelf in. I realize I'll never get it into the apartment. Then I realize I won't get the other two shelves in anyway. Plan B: they hold the big shelf there, and I take the rest. (fingers crossed I can make it back tomorrow!). Now I have 20 min to get back home, unload, and drop off the car. 10 minutes left and I'm still in South Philly, so I call and add another half hour. I get everything into the hall of my building and park the car back in its spot: 2 minutes early for the original drop off time. Sigh. Anyway, back home, I take all the stuff up to my place, and begin assembling. This requires a total rearranging of the downstairs, which involves moving a lot of books. The cats love the tree. I love the kitchen cart. The two smaller shelves work great although I no longer have room for my tiny tv. 5:00. Time to shower, shave my legs, try on seven different outfits, do my hair, do my makeup, eat a yogurt, and head to Pistola's for a political fundraising event, which I'm squeezing in before the opening of Grey Gardens tonight at 7:00. So the fact that I'm sitting here typing this entry ON MY IPHONE, at the bar, shows my dedication.

Also, I dropped the largest bookshelf (an Expedit, you know the one) on my toes. I don't think they're broken. I'm wearing heels regardless.

Scandal Gosselin Style


The season 5 premiere of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" on Monday drew 9.8 million viewers, which was a record for the TLC network. With the scandals swirling around the marriage of Jon and Kate Gosselin, people could not resist to see the drama played out on television

The bodyguard, mistress, and hair scandals are just a few of the juicy backstory that punctuated the first episode.

Now how can we here at One Fine Philly capitalize, er comment on this story of a family in turmoil in nearby Berks County, PA. We can learn from the Gosselins, in that scandal will create a deluge of attention.

And that attention may be converted in cash, which means that One Fine Philly can stop working and devote our time to blogging full time. And we all know what blogging full time brings.

In the interests of boosting readership, I've decided to disclose a few choice Philly-themed tidbits about myself. These disclosures may shock, but they are here to educate. I hope you use them to feel superior.

Disclosure one: I am a Philadelphia schooling failure. I dropped out of Drexel University's accelerated nursing program. My rotation at Hahnemann's labor & delivery unit was the worst kind of hell I had ever experienced. I became barren from the experience, as my uterus fled the state and is living under an assumed name.

Disclosure two: I am a big liar. I tell people I attended Live Aid in 1985 as a fetus in mommy's tummy. But really I was 15 and long out of the womb by then. And actually my parents wouldn't let me go. But I redeemed myself (sort of) by dancing my face off to Def Leppard during Live 8. The kids around me were horrified.

Disclosure three: I am a stupid criminal. After some imbibing at the now defunct West Philly Walsh's bar, I and five others were arrested at 30th street station for defacing a Coors light billboard. It was our 4th outing to the same location at the same time of night. Cops were waiting for us. But in the paddy wagon, we got a good laugh when Bernie dubbed us the "Coors six pack."

Day 2 - Blogger Challenge

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Sprout!


So my first post is late, late, late... but still somehow still on time!  I made it home and in front of my laptop in enough time to slip in a BLOG CHALLENGE post-- no surprise for those who know me.  So, even though I am short on time I thought I would simply post a picture of what holds my heart and thoughts captive in recent days: gardening.  Yes, I said it, gardening.  
Please, indulge me and say hello to my pride and joy: one very fine Heirloom Tomato Sprout!  ...Wait, don't congratulate me just yet, as she is young and fragile.  Yet, with hope and a bit of hard work, I may just be having a delicious crop to share at summer's end!

Getting Away from Philly

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So I think we all agree that we can't hang out in Philly all the time. That's how I was feeling this weekend when my boyfriend and I took a little jaunt down to Atlantic City for some sun and fun. On the top of my list of things to do was checking out The Chelsea, the hot new hotel and nightspot on the Boardwalk. Let me tell you, it is worth the hour drive alone! The place is more fantastic than I could have imagined - a real design lover's dream. Conceived as part retro motor lodge and part luxe boutique hotel, the Chelsea is a total Hollywood Regency bonanza of style. Think Jonthan Adler, glossy white Rococo-style tables, zebra upholstery, funky animal figurines, tons of mirrored surfaces (this view of the spa is fab) - basically, glam meets vintage with a generous dose of wit and whimsy thrown in for good measure. 

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I only wish these images from the hotel's website did the place justice. It's actually much more quirky, colorful and wow-inducing in person. The coolest spot is the the fifth floor roof deck, which features a gorgeous pool, rows and rows of perfect white chaise lounges, a huge round bar, all surrounded by the most wonderful cabanas cloaked in black and white stripes. It's like the roofdeck at Continental Midtown times about a thousand... and it's open until 4am, so you can hang out under the stars to your heart's content.

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A view of the roof deck...

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The poolside dining room at Teplitzky's on the ground level. I am obsessed with the palm leaf wallpaper, the bamboo bar stools, and the tole chandeliers.

All in all, a pretty fabulous place to grab dinner and drinks (did I mention there are two Stephen Starr restaurants on the premises - the diner-style Teplitzky's and the very chic Chelsea Prime), or to spend the weekend if you're so inclined. I'm planning my next visit already!

Big Day Leads to Blogger Fail

In under the wire...just before midnight:

The fates are conspiring me to fail on day one of the blogger challenge. Big news day. I was glued to Twitter feed all day with Obama's nomination for Supreme Court. And then the Proposition 8 ruling. I Twittered and frittered my afternoon away.

And then I went to my volunteer job in the ER. I was planning on leaving but I forgot that the day after a holiday is insane in an ER. People don't get checked out until the long weekend and the bbq's are over. So I stayed late.

And now I am home.

And hammering out this blog post before midnight.

I had better ideas than this simpering post. Really. Check me out tomorrow. I have a great idea.

oxox

P.C.

Heads Up for Philadelphians!

Here are some of the things I plan to enjoy in this beautiful city over the next few weeks:

  • May 30-31, at Penn’s Landing, the Art Star Craft Bazaar! 11-6 both days, with live music, and also gift bags to first 250 attendees. Come check out some of our fave local crafters and artists!
  • You’ve seen the posters (seriously folks, they’re EVERYWHERE! Even PATCO!), now see Philadelphia Theatre Company’s Philadelphia premiere of the award-winning musical, Grey Gardens, at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on Broad Street. Opens May 27 and runs through June 28. After that: Second City, straight from Chicago!
  • Odunde! This year it’s June 12-14, assuming the organization can raise enough money to offset cutbacks in city services like sanitation, fire and police services, and other expenses that have threatened both the Mummer’s Parade and the TDBank Bike Race already. Check out the food, music, and vendors in this annual summer kick-off.

And some of my favorite haunts for a variety of things, and a variety of reasons:
  • The basement of Anthropologie. I know, it’s one of your favorites too!
  • Fitler Square. Smaller and quieter version of Rittenhouse, with cool turtle statues to rival the Goat for kid appreciation.
  • House of Tea, on 4th just south of South (between Bainbridge and Fitzwater). Best leaves in Philly!
  • Betty’s Speakeasy Fudge Shop, 23rd at Gray’s Ferry and South Streets. My favorite’s Lava (with a chipotle kick); what’s yours?
  • Spool fabric shop and their sister yarn shop, Loop, on South Street. Bright, airy, and full of beautiful colors, textures, and patterns. A treat for the eyes!
  • The community garden at Schuylkill River Banks Park, at Spruce Street. The iron gate alone is worth seeing, and this time of year is glorious with irises, roses, and other floral explosions.
  • La Citadelle, my favorite coffee shop on the corner of 16th and Pine, where Said knows my name and speaks to me in French, some of which I understand. Runners-up: Chapter House on 9th and Bainbridge, LaVa Café on 21st and South, and Good Karma Cafe on 22nd and Pine.
  • The rooftop garden at the Kimmel Center. Yes, it’s ungodly hot up there. But still, it’s pretty neat, and my son likes to run around the trees and tell me how high up we are as he stands close enough to the windows to give me vertigo. A bonus: lovely public restrooms!
  • Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, in Fairmount Park. Imagine a mansion devoted entirely to children, with floors devoted to certain age groups, and a giant wooden slide out back. So great!
  • Pure Design, on the corner of 22nd and Lombard, has a small but very nice selection of indoor plants, none of which (so they claim) are poisonous to house pets. I’d double check to be sure. But I’ve got my eye on the Lipstick plant, the Prayer plant, and the Crown of Thorns. Pretty!
  • The Rosenbach Museum and Library is modestly tucked in a rowhome on the 2000 block of Delancey. You've missed the Maurice Sendak exhibit (which was amazing!), but come for a glance at selections from the manuscript of Joyce's Ulysses, Marianne Moore's papers, and original notes for Bram Stoker's Dracula. Don't forget Bloomsday on June 16th! This will be the Rosenbach's 17th annual celebration, so check it out!

See you around town, Philly friends!

Open Houses and Hidden Cities

YIP Summer Series Kick-Off
Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 5 - 7PM
XIX Nineteen, Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, Broad & Walnut, Philly, PA 19146
FREE with drink specials

Come out and enjoy the view of the city from the 19th Floor at XIX and mingle with some politically-active, young involved Philadelphians.

WXPN Live Music Non-Commvention
Thu. - Sat, May 28-30, 2009
World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., Philly, PA 19104
$75/$100 (single or pair pass)

Music discovery. Kind of like South-by (SxSw). If the ticket prices are too rich for your tastes, selected bands will perform live on WXPN (check the live broadcast schedule for details).

Society Hill Open House & Garden Tour
Sunday, May 31, 2009, 1 - 5PM
Starts at Old Pine St. Church, 412 Pine St, Philly, PA 19106
$25 per ticket (buy tickets at starting location)

I've always wondered how magnificent the interiors of some of those elegant Society Hill townhouses may be. Yet, I've managed to miss this event the past two years in a row. Maybe I'm going for plausible deniability (e.g. it's better to know *not* how glorious some Society Hill manses really are).

Hidden City Philadelphia Commences
May 30 - June 28, 2009

I've seen "viral" ads for this in the form of for-hire-type tearaways posted in many random locations around Philly. It sounds like it has potential to be very interesting. Open up some of Philly's most interesting but unused/moth-balled architectural spaces for art and performance. There is also a really cool card game that you can buy decks for that will have you traipsing around the city.

3rd Annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Festival
Saturday, May 30, 2009, 11:00AM - 5:00PM
Franklin Square Park, 6th & Race, Philly, PA 19106
FREE

"Enjoy Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese arts and cultural performances, an exquisite variety of ethnic foods, handcrafted and imported ethnic art and merchandise, and interactive childrenʼs activities offered by the regionʼs museums and arts organizations. Last year, over 3,000 adults and children took part in the festivities."

Credit: Creative Commons photo by kellygrape

30 Day Blogger Challenge – Day 1

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When the weather goes warm, I find myself staring languidly out the window for long periods of time, I take more walks and more naps, I want to be outside at all times, I write less. Writing less is not a good thing for an aspiring writer.

So I’ve challenged myself and a few of my blogger friends to join me for a 30 day writing challenge. Starting today, Pop Culture Casualty, Carrel Dweller, Planet Caroline, and Angel, will be sharing their daily ramblings with One Fine Philly.

Please be gentle with us as we find our stories. And please feel free to join us on our quest to re-ignite the writer within. Send me an email if you want to join our challenge. We'd love to challenge you to a writers duel!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why you should be Making Time with Caroline

Making Time, 9th Anniversary Freakout
Friday, May 22nd, 2009, 9pm-3:30am
Pure 1221 St. James St. Philadelphia, PA

Dave P is back at Pure with his electroclash party Making Time. Since 2000, this party has been legendary in Philadelphia. Here are 5 reasons to make Pure your spot to dance.

5. It's a local Philly party...No need to travel to NYC or DC for this.

4. It's the 9th anniversary of Making Time, which means there will be 138% percent more freakout.

3. Even though it's referred to as "straight night" at Pure, you are guaranteed to see various conglomerations of boys & girls macking.

2. Making time residents led by Dave P know how to open & close a show.

1. Co-headlining performers The Juan McLean (DFA/NYC) & The Field (Stockholm/Kompakt) are playing LIVE!!! These live performances are guaranteed to be electrifying.

Advance tickets avaiable at:

The Last Drop Coffee House
1300 Pine St.
Philadelphia, PA
&
Tequila Sunrise Records
525 W. Girard Ave.
Philadelphia, PA
& online at:
Music Today

For more info sights and sounds:
www.myspace.com/davidpianka

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lincoln and Zen

UArts' Graphic Design Senior Exhibition
Wednesday, May 20, 2009, 5:00 - 7:00 PM
Artemide, 232 N. 2nd St., Philly, PA 19106
FREE

As someone who communicates in concrete concepts, I think one of the most interesting things about moderate to far -Left visually-driven people is listening to them talk (as they will during the presentation portion of this event). Flash presentation of the UArts Seniors' portfolios here.

Lecture: "Abraham Lincoln: A Place in Time"
Wednesday, May 20, 2009, 6:30PM
Hamilton Auditorium, Historic Landmark Building
PAFA, 118 N. Broad St., Philly, PA 19102
$15

Dr. Alexander Nemerov, Professor in the History of Art and American Studies from Yale University, will talk at length about "one of the boldest and most distinct voices of our country".

"In addition to being a wise politician, Abraham Lincoln was also a wise humanist. [I want to] talk about Lincoln's aesthetics, specifically Lincoln's thoughts about the pleasure and the sadness, the exhilaration and the loneliness, of certain moments of being alive."

If I wasn't already RSVP'd for another event, I'd so be a Lincoln biographical groupie this evening.

East West South North: Beijing Photos
Thursday, May 21, 2009, 4:00 - 6:00PM
Charles Addams Fine Arts Gallery
200 S. 36th St., Philly, PA 19104
FREE

Fairly interesting photos taken by UPenn students. Don't go just to stop by, go to ask them about their experiences in Beijing, China.

Brandywine River Blues Festival
Chaddsford Winery, Chaddsford, PA (Directions)
Saturday - Monday, May 23/24/25, 12:00 - 6:00PM
$25

If you aren't doing the annual Ocean/Eastward migration to the shore, consider a shorter, local trip out of town to the iconic rural land of Andrew Wyeth, Brandywine Valley.

Garden of Sounds: John Cage's Ryoanji
Saturday, May 23, 2009, 3:00PM
The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St., Philly, PA 19104
FREE

"Brooke Eplee, a recent graduate of the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, will illuminate the musical and philosophical dimensions of Cage’s work in the context of Zen Buddhism and Japanese aesthetics. Drawing from scholarly research and her firsthand experience of Ryoan-ji, the lecture will feature photographs of the garden as well as a recorded performance of the composition."

Ryoanji: A "meditative exploration of presence and absence, sound and silence.

If I weren't already meditating on how old I am getting while watching my nephews destroy the sound of silence while my siblings drink wine, I'd be lurking in the audience.

Sun Ra Arkestra Special Performance
Sunday, May 24, 2009, 8:00PM
Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. Philly, PA 19125
$10

From the solitary and influential class on Jazz Appreciation I took at college, I feel that Sun Ra is to Jazz like Willy Wonka is to Hershey. Willy Wonka is fiction and Sun Ra could qualify as fiction. He's eccentric to the margins. Maybe it helps to be under the influence when you listen to his stuff. Come in celebration of the coming of the 95th anniversary of Sun Ra's arrival on Earth.

Credit: Creative Commons Photo by Robert Swier

Breaking story: Polite chat at Philadelphia workplace feels hollow

The following exchange happened recently at a Center City office. Some details have been altered to protect anonymity and bolster drama.

An administrative assistant is a busy-appearing office was engaged in a brief conversation by a company superior. "I was on my way to the bathroom and was taken by surprise by the Comptroller," said Jaimie R. who reported that senior staff "hold it in" to avoid facing subordinates. "I guess the turnaround on her takeout from Tiffin was too quick." Ms. R. remembers the conversation distinctly,

"Hi Ms. G"
"Hi Jaimie, how are you?"
"I'm okay and you?"
"Good. Thank you for asking."
"You’re welcome, Ms. G."
"Thank you again, Jaimie. That shirt you're wearing...blue?"
"Yes, blue"
"Fabric?"
"Yes, it's made of fabric, Ms. G."
"Great talking to you, Jaimie. Excuse me, please"

Ms. R. describes mixed feelings about the exchange. "That was our longest talk in my 4 years at the company." "But I felt empty afterward, like nothing had really changed between us.” Ms. R. returned to her desk and the rest of the day unfolded without incident.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Italians and Kinetics

Far Side of the Moon
Monday, May 11, 2009, 7:00PM
Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad St. Philly, PA 19147
FREE but first-come, first-serve

A special one-night only screening of Far Side of the Moon (2003) directed by Robert Lepage.

Considered to be one of the foremost directors of theater and film in Canada and internationally acclaimed around the world, Lepage offers us "a fantastical voyage into space - outer space, and the space within ourselves."


Last Night at the Five Spot
Tuesday, May 12, 2009, 7:00PM
International House, 3701 Chestnut Street, Philly, Pennsylvania, 19104
$10

A visual valentine to the legendary Old City nightclub/dance club, The Five Spot, which burned down tragically in early 2007.

Maya Solovéy
Wednesday, May 13, 2009, 7:00PM
Wooden Shoe Books, 508 s. 5th Street, Philly, PA 19147
FREE

I love Latin American culture and their passionate women.

Maya has "a voice like a warm wind and croons stories of a soul caught somewhere between sorrow and orgasm. " Will be singing in English, Spanish, and Portugese. No guarantees made that you won't fall in love with her, her songs, her voice, her soul.

Meet the Candidates for City Controller
Thursday, May 14, 2009, 7:00 - 8:30PM
South Marble Room (use 15th St. entrance), Union League, 140 S. Broad St. Philly, PA 19102
FREE

Young Involved Philadelphia, Center City Residents' Association, and Washington Square West Civic Association bring you this forum to meet this election's candidates for the job of City Controller. Drinks afterwards at Time.

Secret tip: One of the best ways to practice public speaking is to ask a question at a public forum like this.

WASTE: ReThink, 2009 PennDesign Student Show
Friday, May 15, 2009, 5:30 - 8:30PM
Meyerson Hall Terrace, UPenn/210 S. 34th Street, Philly, PA 19104

Waste is the 2009 annual PennDesign Student Show, showcasing work from all disciplines completed over the course of the spring semester. WASTE "challenges students to not only show their work, but to ReThink the concept of waste when representing their body of work."

Kinetic Kensington Annual Kinetic Sculpture Derby
Saturday, May 16, 2009, 12:30PM (Parade starts)
Part of Trenton Ave. Arts Fest 2000-2300 blocks of Trenton Ave. (directions)

For those of you brave enough to venture out of the green zone of Center City, you might be well rewarded by a visual feast of the most interesting "bicycles" and the people who ride the "bicycles".

9th Street Italian Market Festival
Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17, 2009, 10:00AM - 5:00PM

In case you needed a reminder - this weekend is the Italian market Festival. Always crowded. Sights, sounds, smells, people-watching, and tastes galore.

Credit: Creative Commons photo by pwbaker

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Post-Mother's Day Pampering


If you, like me, view Mother's Day as a cynical and exploitative holiday meant to guilt us into paying attention, for one day, to those who bore us (double entendre intended), then you could probably use a little R&R after this weekend. (Yes, I know Mother's Day was originally an anti-war statement. I think Hallmark might beg to differ.) As a mother, I feel it would have been nice if I could have had some pampering on the day itself, but I came down with a nasty stomach bug. No mimosas for me!

But I digress. For those of you looking to freshen up for spring, head to bluemercury at 1707 Walnut Street. I've walked past this spot any number of times without going in -- do I really need to spend $25 on mascara during a recession? -- but finally a makeup artist friend of mine convinced me to check it out. (Her pitch? Great free samples!) I went for a makeup application event, one of many the shop holds, and came out a convert.

I showed up for my appointment right on time, but the artist was still working on her previous client. The staff turned this into an opportunity, handing me a mimosa and offering a free chair massage while I waited. DIVINE. Kelly worked her magic on my stiff shoulders as we chatted about the Chinatown Bus, from which I had disembarked only an hour earlier. I loved her comparison of that bus to the Muppet Bus, with feathers and passengers flying out the window ... and two mimosas and a great massage later, my makeup artist was ready. (Here I have to apologize, as she was great but I can't remember her name. This was a few weeks ago. Bad blogger!) She listened to what I wanted, put together a great easy daytime look for me with some beautiful Trish McEvoy products, and I walked out with an eyeshadow/liner, brow pencil, lip color, and gloss that I've been using nearly every day since. Of course, she used plenty of other products to complete the look, but I never once felt pressured to buy anything I already own or wasn't totally sold on. I even asked about eyebrow shaping, as I've never had mine done professionally, and their eyebrow person said she wouldn't change a thing with my brows. Imagine, telling a potential client that no, she's doing a great job on her own, don't bother giving you her money? Excellent.

Meanwhile, the rest of the staff attended to late afternoon customers with friendly professionalism, matching one woman's lipstick shade, the name of which she couldn't remember; giving another woman a quick lipstick application; providing product information; making sure everyone was well-supplied with orange juice and champagne. I never once felt anyone was being pushy, or snooty, or inattentive. I may have walked out somewhat cash-poor, but the smile on my face was worth it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Top 10 Favorite Philly Restaurants


May’s Philadelphia magazine fails to accurately rank the top 50 restaurants in Philadelphia. What I suspect this list more accurately reflects is the top 50 restaurants in Philadelphia to invest in promotions and advertising with Philadelphia magazine.

Zahav at number 1? While offering a distinct menu of Israeli cuisine, there is nothing unique about the dishes or special about the preparation that would lead you to think of Chef Michael Solomonov as an artist in the kitchen. The hummus, chopped liver, sausage and roast lamb that Zahav makes are just as good at Whole Foods (missing from the ranking). When I go out for a meal, I want to eat something I can’t prep in my own kitchen.

To counter Philly mags list, I’ve outlined below my top 10 favorite places to eat in Philly. I used a simple methodology: Where would I want to eat if I was asked out on a date where I was not expected to pay?

  1. Tinto – My number one favorite (not just because my sweetie works behind the bar)! The prix fixe brunch and lunch specials are completely inspired and both under $20. Jose Garces is a food genius and I can’t get enough of his very special cuisine.


  2. Vetri – The menu changes nightly, so there is always something new to try. It’s the only place in the city where I can find true Italian pasta the way it is meant to be prepared and served. Too bad eating here with a guest costs the same as my rent.


  3. Amada – The complete package of ambiance, service and great food. I’m partial to the grilled tapas. Cilantro, garlic, and EVOO make a simple marinade for the city’s highest quality meats and seafood grilled to perfection. Iron Chef winner Garces knows that if you start with quality ingredients, the rest is simple.


  4. Fork, etc. – Every Wednesday night at 8:00 PM, the Chef at Fork previews new menu items at a chef tasting available for $40, first come-first serve. It’s one big table and one very special experience.


  5. Distrito – I have finally succumbed to Elizabeth’s assertion that Distrito makes the most original Mexican food in the city. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive.


  6. David Mae Lae Wah – The salt & pepper shrimp is prepared with jalapenos and the dumplings are served with shaved ginger. Service and ambiance is pretty horrendous, but the food is a hidden Philly treasure. Sang Kee can not compare. Open 24 hours, take-out available, no delivery.


  7. Lolita – This modern Mexican BYOB is totally sexy. Tucked into the gayborhood, darkly lit tables are surrounded by soft glowing orange walls, excellent service, and good food. They would be higher up on my list if they took reservations and didn’t make guests wait up to two hours for a table on a Friday night.


  8. Lacroix – When my “ex-turned-current-boyfriend” took me here to ask me back into his life, he made a smart choice. A gorgeous buffet of little spoonfuls of gourmet delicacies is only a tease for the full offering of breakfast foods laid out in the kitchen. You are invited back into the Chef's domocile for personal souffles cups, house-stuffed sausage and a chocolate fountain that make all-you-can-eat a classy affair. At $100 a head, this is not the right place to tell your date you don’t think it’s going to work out.


  9. Honey's Sit 'N' Eat – If I had mom that cooked, then this place would feel like home. Comfort food made with quality ingredients make this a favorite brunch spot. Think OJ served in jam jars and fresh strawberry preserves on biscuits still hot from the oven.


  10. Bar Ferdinand – Oh God, the fried manchego foam simply explodes in your mouth causing a mini food orgasm. I recommend two orders.

  11. **Bonus ** Vietnam - Sometimes I dream about the crispy spring roll. I like it so much that I don’t even remember anything else on the menu.
Other places I might want to go on a date, but need to try a few more times before I can say they are a favorite are Pumpkin, Supper, Melograno, Raw and Audrey Claire.

What did you think of Philly mags top 50? If your date phoned to ask where you wanted to go to dinner, what would you say?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mother's Day Shopping @ Petulia's Folly

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Have you done your shopping for mom yet? If not, then get yourself to Petulia's Folly over at 17th and Sansom Streets to peruse their comprehensive and lust-worthy selection of John Derian decoupage.

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In my opinion, these gorgeous decorative plates, paperweights and lamps are perfect for Mother's Day or any day. Derian's decoupage pieces (decoupage is the art of gluing cut-out paper onto an object) are all handmade in his New York studio, and feature lovely antique images of botanicals, animals, insects, and so on. I have started my own little collection, and often stop in Petulia's Folly to compile my wish list. What's great is that you will find something perfectly pretty for mom, while also finding something pretty, yet subtly quirky and humorous, for yourself!

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Prices range from "utterly affordable" ($25 for a glass drink coaster) to "splurge" ($200 for a 14" platter) to "investment" ($950 for a glass lamp) with LOTS of options in between. I recommend the round dome paperweight, which at $60 is a hefty gift at the pefect price.

Oh, and if you don't find the Derian decoupage to your taste, the store carries an impressive array of home decor, jewelry and fashion from the likes of Hable Contruction, Tamar Mogendorff, Pade Vavra, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Paul & Joe, Hanii Y, Catherine Malandrino, and many more. Something there is certain to strike your fancy and solve your gift-giving conundrums!

Petulia's Folly can be found at 1710-12 Sansom Street.
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