Last March, I published a love note from George Matysik and Doug Moak to Pete’s Clown House in the Frankford/Juniata section of Philly (I’m not choosing one, as tensions about neighborhood boundaries run way too high up there). Though George and Doug couldn’t make it that day, I asked around on Twitter and managed to round up three friends for a breakfast feast. And I do mean feast. We had four He-Man platters, which basically means we had everything, all for about six bucks each. To this day, Pete’s Clown House remains one of those gems that I take friends to who’ve had it with the lines at Sabrina’s or Honey’s.
To my surprise, after publishing the note, I got some emails from some of the descendants of the owners. As far as I can piece together, Sam McKay opened up a restaurant there called Chatterbox in the 50s. He and his family lived above the store (as people continue to do today). In the 60s, the store changed hands to Pete, his wife Helen, and their 3 daughters. Pete’s loyal customers knew his love for clowns, and gave him pictures to decorate with. Today, a neon clown sign hangs in the main dining area. Ronnie (a long time employee) took ownership of the restaurant after Pete, and the legacy lives on at 3878 Frankford Avenue. Read more
Immediately after the #whyilovephilly Party, I escaped up to Grahmsville, New York for a weekend (mostly) away from my phone at a cabin with some friends. They had spent the week recording music in a beautiful chalet overlooking a lake, and I came up for the tail end. It was a weekend of good food, a hot tub (!), snow, hiking, wine, whiskey, music and relaxation. After opening Waterfront Winterfest, and after the craziness of party planning, it was perfect. On the way home, I dropped by the Dia Contemporary Art Museum in Beacon, New York. Go. That’s all I can say about it.
You know I love Philly, but I love it even more after getting away for a little while.
Grahmsville, New York
The annual mummers parade, which is, according to National Geographic, the oldest continually running folk parade in the U.S.
Second big #whyilovephilly Party is done! Whew. When scheduling the party, I didn’t realize I would also be opening Waterfront Winterfest the week before, so for about 6 weeks, I’ve been running on complete manic energy (with only one freak out). But now it’s done, and I have to say, I’m a bit sad. I think I like party planning.
Yesterday, my good friends Leigh Goldenberg (who’s helping to organize the #whyilovephilly party) and Aaron Bauman, along with one of Little Baby’s owners, Martin Brown, teamed up to make a new, Philly-centric flavor = Soft pretzel ice cream with Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets, a soft pretzel swirl, and Goldenberg Peanut Chews as a topping. The result will premiere at the #whyilovephilly party on Friday, but needless to say, the initial tastes were amazing.
1. Toasting the Philly soft pretzels and letting them soak overnight in the dairy base
OLD CITY TOUR GUIDE
I am: An interior designer, artist, lover of Philadelphia, and ever in the pursuit of happiness.
Years in Philly: 6
Current Home: Old City
The other week, I did something that totally terrified me. And by terrified, I mean the last time I tried to do it I ended up crying in a bathroom stall and not coming out till it was over. What was it? Giving a public presentation. When the guys behind Ignite Philly asked me to speak at Ignite 12, I only accepted because I had one drink too many at an inspiring Ignite 11. I was roped in, and anyway, there’s no better way of getting over a fear than confronting it head on — in front of 300 semi-drunk Philadelphians. Luckily I was talking about a subject I’m passionate about.
I gave a lightning five-minute talk about Philly Love Notes and the lessons learned from doing it. And they are as follows…
1. Do something that terrifies you (Ignite)
2. Be surprised (Beryl Belcher and Alison Dell)
3. Be open to new experiences (David Goodman and Holly Otterbein)
4. Appreciate your surroundings (Leah Kaufmann and Nathaniel Popkin)
5. Listen (Susanne Johnson and Emma Sicalowski)
6. Enjoy other people’s excitement (Matthew Sherman and Ralph Onesti)
7. Find your community (Timothy McKenna and Rudy Flesher)
8. Find someone who makes you laugh (Andrew-Lansie and Leigh-Aaron)
9. Find quiet (Zach Subar and Phil Jablon)
10. Learn someone’s history (Colleen Davis and Tom Petersen)
11. Document your own loves (Gate Lane and the Race Street Pier)
12. Take your friends out (Nick Goldberg and Dan Ueda)
12. Go out of your way (Jill Sybesma and Joel Mathis)
13. Eat liberally (Philly Phoodie and Polly Math)
14. Drink even more liberally (Tara Nurin, Nikki Volpicelli, Molly Eichel, Swabreen Bakr, Isabelle Heyward)
15. Fall in love (Shannon McDonald and Michelle Feldman)
16. Find your own spot (and if you do, submit a love note)
If you’re interested, the audio of my talk and all the others can be found on the Newsworks website.
Even before becoming the communications manager for the Delaware River Waterfront Corp (DRWC) I had a mild fixation with waterfronts and ships. I wrote my thesis on the Philadelphia port’s fumigation policies so that I could get close to the big cranes and watch the boats being unloaded. Since starting my job, I’ve become hyperaware of how cities use their waterfront. I spent this past weekend in New York City. On Sunday, we strolled through Brooklyn Bridge Park, the promenade, ate at Smorgasberg, and then took the East River Ferry from the park to 34th Street in Manhattan. I was blown away by the park: it’s amenities and uses, the number of people visiting, and the small touches that made it seem so special.
Last week, DRWC unveiled the preliminary design plans for a new Penn’s Landing Park. The timeline is long, and the money needed is enormous, but god do I hope that we can pull it off. Brooklyn Bridge Park was perfectly New York, and I would like to imagine that the future Penn’s Landing will be perfectly Philadelphia. How great would it be to walk down Market Street and finally see a waterfront worthy of our history and great city. A girl can dream (and be part of the organization that would build it), right?
I filled out this survey (see previous post). Curious to hear what you have to say.
National Geographic runs a series called I Heart My City, producing a collection of great city guides from residents themselves. I submitted my answers for Philadelphia, which don’t seem to have been chosen, but I figured I would share them here…
Philly (Philadelphia) is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to the 33rd floor of the PSFS building.