The last time I saw Joe Tartaglia — the 44 year old co-proprietor of Connie’s Ric Rac in the Italian Market — he saw me walking my greyhound around the neighborhood on a chilly early afternoon and told me that he had a friend who sold custom-made dog coats that played music.
“It’s like a dog iPod in his coat,” said Joe. “You should call him.”
That was the Little Joe Brown, or Joe Jr., or whatever-you-called him I knew: always something absurd at the conversational ready and always hustling, whether it was for his live music and comedy outpost on Ninth Street or someone else’s game.
Joe passed away this week after a long battle with brain cancer. I had heard he was sick but assumed, like everything else in the Market that he would always be there no matter what the trouble. Like the rest of his family — his dad Joe, mom Connie, brother Frankie — young Joe Tartaglia was a daily part of my life, and their struggles to get Connie’s Ric Rac off the ground and liquor-licensed a long time part of my reporting.
The other night, the Ric Rac (which is literally right behind my house) opened its doors and let his friends rock the joint despite the family’s loss. They said that Joey would have wanted it that way. I disagree. I think he would have liked it to be just a little louder.
Rest in peace, Joe.
Normally, you’d say that we can’t truly miss somebody if they don’t go away. Luckily, it is Questlove/?uestlove we’re talking about — the ultimate Philadelphian whose re-location to Manhattan would seem final if he always here. (Take last month’s Fluid finale.)
But he’s got that a chicken-and-cupcake business with Stephen Starr at Chelsea Market.
He’s got that Tonight Show gig.
And now there are plans for a book tour to accompany his debut (you know they’ll be more) memoir, Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove.
June 1’s Roots Picnic along the waterfront is a month away as of today.
Then there’s the confirmation of what’s been rumored for weeks: that Questlove will again join the entertainment ranks of chef and philanthropist Marc Vetri’s Great Chefs Event for Alex’s Lemonade Stand at the Urban Outfitters complex at the Philly Navy Yard, June 11. Quest will spin as part of the after-party entertainment at Vetri’s N. Broad Street hang, Alla Spinna, a gig whose live entertainment features the Joseph A. Ferko String Band. Out-dazzle the Mummers, Quest, I dare you. #Hashtag Media videographer, manager and producer Craig Kaplan helped set up Quest and Vetri two years ago and got the busy twosome together for this charitable bash again in 2013. Kaplan is currently shooting Vetri video stuff for GCE around town. Maybe Quest will slip in for his close up. Tix and info here.
The now 32 year old AIGA Philadelphia, the first local chapter of all the American Institute of Graphic Arts chapters, does a lot of good things. OK, they have a lot of meetings and lectures about doing good things in relation to Philly’s graphic design art and business scene. One thing that AIGA-P chapter president Allan Espiritu and ex-City Paper graphics guy Kevin Kernan and their dozens of members don’t do nicely by is their t-shirt collection, as this group paints over and wrecks them every spring for their annual T-Shirt Design Show and sale, “Off the Rack.” The start of the sale and exhibition is tonight, First Friday April 5 (starting at 6 p.m.) and all shirts, designed its membership, will be sold at $20.00 and 30% of the proceeds will go to benefit operations at AIGA SPACE (72 N. Second St.) These guys serve a lot of beer and a lot of wine, so whether you want to or not, you’ll find yourself with a bushel of new shirts by night’s end.
This weekend, Philadelphia’s most prominent media-centric dynasty (as if we had a bunch) the Robertses of Comcast/Universal/Xfinity fame made their presence known at several top notch events. If I had known, I would have brought my bill.
I knew this was happening since last spring, that Fluid/Latest Dish owner Tony Schiro was putting his double decker positively Fourth Street nightclub and eatery on the market.
We were simply waiting for the dancing shoe to drop. But still, thanks to Questo, it got dropped early. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, an occasional DJ at Fluid, hit up his preferred mode of communication: Twitter, with the news. If you check Q’s responses, the information was a shock to Fluid fans and DJs alike such as that club’s occasional contributor Cosmo Baker.
A last big bash is being planned for Fluid’s finale — a Tastytreats bash starring Questlove, Mike Nyce, and Yameen Allworld on April 6. Then both spaces will shutter April 7.
That said, rumors have been swirling for months about who would take the off-South behemoth complete with top notch kitchen amenities and a dancefloor with a tile grotto next to it. Would they split up? Would the dreaded idea of “condos” come into play? Most recently, word has it that a single primary buyer is interested in taking the whole tamale and keeping it in the food and entertainment business. Stay tuned. And so long Fluid. We’ll miss you.
Valentine’s Day is for lovers, I get that. Still, if you adore fashion and you dig doing good perhaps you can merge all that l’amour into one outing. You could do that tonight, Feb. 14, as fashion designer/Project Runway All Stars winner and AIDS advocate Mondo Guerra hits up 17th Street’s Hotel Palomar to benefit ActionAIDS’ Dining Out for Life program with a Fashion in Action event featuring t-shirts of his design and nibbles from Square 1682.
Guerra — who goes mostly by his first name, “Mondo” — has spent time in Philly before. He did the AIDS Walk here two years ago, loves the city’s sense of history and winding streets (“they’re so narrow,” he says) and appreciates the buzz he gets here after living in New York City for so long. Most crucially, he’s impressed by this city’s dedication to AIDS/HIV education and activism. “We are all activists. Philly’s big on that. Anyone can get involved from any community that you are a part of. I get asked that all the time. It’s easier than you think.”
Philadelphia knows Brendan Bring’Em the DJ for his Sherman’s March-like rush on this city’s best dance clubs, to say nothing of his on-stage antics (at one time or another) for Jay-Z and the Beastie Boys.
Locals know Brendan Olkus the artist as the fascinatingly odd creator of tribal gas masks and ritual-heavy paintings whose images portray gorgeous displays of bloodshed.
That these two separate but equal personalities should meet on one project — his self designed, built and co-owned up-coming first-ever club, Emmaline (named after his grandmother) — is a bonus to say nothing of the fact that it’s the biggest thing he’s ever done. Olkus is setting up in the unused space below the nightspot Industry XIX on 19th and Chestnut, a room that has remained empty for a minute with its own speakeasy-like entry way alley on 19th Street. While there will be a hard hat friends-and-family opening in the next 10 to 12 days, Olkus intends to be fully opened, six days a week, within 16 days.
“One of the prettiest sights in this pretty world is that of the privileged classes enjoying their privileges.”
—Katharine Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story
Last Monday night at the Kimmel Center, about 400 members of the Philadelphia theater community got together to finish what the Theater Alliance started — they gave away the remaining awards meant to be part of the annual Barrymores along with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement prize to Wilma Theater co-founder Jiri Zizka.
An honorary and voluntary committee of local stage artisans pulled off "Theatre Philadelphia: A Celebration” without a hitch. Each presentation for the $10,000 F. Otto Haas Award for an emerging artist was outrageous fun, in particular Alex Bechtel & Co.’s “Dream Weaver” cover dedicated to nominee Thom Weaver as well as Lee Ann Etzold’s bare-breasted salute to her Bang co-star and creator Charlotte Ford (actor and 11th Hour Theatre Company co-founder Steve Pacek won the Haas). The $25,000 Brown Martin Philadelphia Award for theater companies celebrating cultural and spiritual diversity went to Flashpoint Theatre Company, for last season's Slip/Shot drama about race penned by Philly playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger, who had already had won a Barrymore for outstanding new play this year. Along with those awards, a new seasonally recurring $10K gift was announced — the June and Steve Wolfson Award for an outstanding small theater company.
Jiri Zizka was celebrated by his son, Krystof, and ex-wife, Blanka Zizka for his dedication to advancing the avant-garde as artistic director and co-founder of the Wilma Theater, and helping turn Philadelphia into an adventuresome theater town.
Along with lionizing Zizka, Theater Philadelphia poked fun at the departure of its red-carpet Barrymores as well as bemoaning the loss of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s full-time theater critic Howard Shapiro, a staffer who took a buyout rather than be moved to the paper’s New Jersey bureau.
No sooner than I mention Philly’s Bradley Cooper and his 2013 schedule he goes and gets himself additional plans that’ll keep him squarely on the East Coast for some time. Last night, word got out that he’ll be part of the next Cameron Crowe film with Emma Stone. Whether that means a Singles or a Vanilla Sky, we have no clue as yet. (JUST DON’T MAKE IT ANOTHER WE BOUGHT A ZOO, PLEASE!) Today, The Vulture reports that a big part of getting Coop to the Crowe comes down to the film’s producer Scott Rudin. Word has it that Rudin will massage Cooper’s ego and his thesssssspian bug by trying to get a three-month run of The Elephant Man, the Coop’s favorite play that he spent the summer performing in diapers at the Williamstown Theater Festival — onto Broadway. Rudin, through the Shubert Organization, has produced plenty of plays, some (like Doubt) that he’s even made into films, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Question is, which one comes first? Who cares, as long as Cooper gets his Philly nut off first with that David O. Russell ABSCAM flick? As for The Elephant Man, if David Bowie, star of The Linguini Incident and Labrynth — can do it, surely Cooper can.
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