John Bolaris with his financée, Erica Smitheman, and Stu Bykofsky at Butcher and Singer. Photograph by Dustin Fenstermacher
The Story That Won’t Go Away
VICTOR: Stu, what were your first gossip items about John?
JOHN: I lied about my age. But I had a reason to. It was only two years. Stu always used to get on me in the papers, trying to find out my real age. When I first started in this business, my mentor told me to subtract two years. He told me that this business is all about age. But why didn’t he say to minus five?
STU: You could get away with two.
STU: John, have you dealt with Victor before?
JOHN: Oh yes I have.
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Photograph by Christopher Leaman
Time: 9 p.m. Day: Thursday. Location: 7165 Lounge.
[Reynolds Brown pulls out a binder full of old photographs and a folder stuffed with press clips about her.]
PM: What’s in the scrapbook?
BLONDELL: I’m an incurable romantic, and I have pictures here of days gone by. So this is my identification card for when I worked in Atlantic City at the Brighton Hotel, one of the first casinos to have professional dancers. It was 1980 when the show opened. I commuted back and forth for a year, then the show closed. Can you guess why?
PM: Can I guess why …
BLONDELL: We were too family-oriented.
PM: They wanted more leg?
PM: You were born in South Carolina.
BLONDELL: Sumter, South Carolina. My mom moved here when I was six. She was one of 16, and one of two sisters who came to the North to find a better life for her family. My mom taught, and then my father died when I was 16, so my mother was left to raise seven children alone. Read more »
Joe Torsella and Nick Stuccio on Long Beach Island, 1985.
PM: You guys have both had successful careers. Joe, you launched the Constitution Center and were recently an ambassador to the U.N. Nick, you founded FringeArts. And you’ve known each other since you went to high school together in northeastern Pennsylvania.
JOE: I actually am responsible for all of Nick’s success, by virtue of our high-school relationship. That seems bold, I know.
NICK: But it’s kinda true.
JOE: We met each other in early high school, I think in Mrs. Podesta’s … what was the class, geometry?
NICK: Geometry. We knew each other casually. But we became friends when Joe here decided to direct a play. Because Joe was going to be a famous theater director. Read more »
Photograph by Christopher Leaman
Time: 3 p.m. Day: Monday. Location: PPD Car 1.
A conversation with Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey can take unpredictable turns, like the hard right his driver hangs at high speed onto Hunting Park Avenue as Ramsey’s thumb jams an ear-splitting siren. We’re en route to a double shooting in the city’s Logan neighborhood.
“Well, you got a little bit more than you bargained for,” Ramsey tells me a few frantic blocks later. Behind him, yellow police tape cordons off a crime scene just outside Albert Einstein Medical Center where a 15-year-old girl — a bystander — was shot and killed minutes earlier. “Now you know,” he says, “this shit can turn on a dime.”
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Row 1: Zion Spearman, Jared Sprague-Lott, Tai Shanahan. Row 2: Erik Lipson, Joe Richardson, Carter Davis. Row 3: Kai Cummings, Eli Simon, Jahli Hendricks. Photography by Justin James Muir
PM: Could any of you have predicted you’d go to the World Series?
Jared Sprague-Lott: I knew we had the talent, but if you run into one really good team that’s better than you are … so … not really.
PM: When did you start to think you had a chance?
Joe Richardson: When we won states. Collier [from Allegheny County] was the hardest team by far.
Erik Lipson: [banging a plastic soda bottle] I’d like to answer that question. Okay … what was the question? [laughter] Read more »
Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou
PM: When does the process for creating a new album begin?
KURT: I’m always creating — at least writing. One thing ricochets off the other. There comes a time where you’ve accumulated a bunch of songs and it’s time to make a new record. Then you go out on the road and perform it. That music takes on a life of its own, because you play it differently every night.
PM: Sounds like you find most of your inspiration on the road.
KURT: Not necessarily. The stuff I write on the road is more universal. There are other times, like when I visit my parents — they live in the suburbs, but compared to where I live in Northern Liberties, it’s like the country. There, I can tap into playing acoustic or banjo in their backyard. Then there’s when I’m in the studio, coming close to a deadline. I feel like some of my best work comes out of that, when all of a sudden you can fill in any blanks, music-wise or lyric-wise, on the fly, because you have your mojo going. Read more »
Chris Matthews and Ed Rendell. Photograph by Justin James Muir
PM: When did you guys first meet?
ED: [laughs] I have no idea.
CHRIS: I just remember that he and Billy Green [then Philadelphia’s mayor] were trying to take my job away. This was back in 1980. I was speechwriter for Jimmy Carter. All the big-city guys ganged up on us.
ED: This was the Kennedy-Carter presidential primary. I was supporting Kennedy.
CHRIS: Teddy came to town, and he was eating Philly pretzels and meeting with the Cardinal. You could do that in those days. And Carter was in his Rose Garden because of the [Iranian] hostages. And I’m handling Philly. These guys rolled us over. Read more »
Chip Chantry and Jim Grammond are writing partners for the local sketch-comedy show Dog Mountain, performing at Philly Improv Theater on November 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st. You can also catch Chip at Rittenhouse’s Helium Comedy Club November 19th through 22nd.
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Photograph by Lane Savage
PM: So you’re pretty deep into production for season two of Broad City?
Abbi: Yeah, we’re actually done tomorrow, so it’s really nuts. I’m standing in the middle of Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I’m watching the crew shoot a scene with Ilana [Glazer, her Broad City partner] right now.
PM: Were you the class-clown type at Conestoga High?
Abbi: A little bit. They had this cool show called the Junior Cabaret, and I got to be one of the comedic hosts for the night. That was my first time performing in front of that many people. I took classes growing up at the Walnut Street Theatre and the Actors Center downtown on 3rd on Saturdays — my parents would drive me in. I was kind of obsessed with SNL, but I didn’t think comedy was an option at all.
PM: Did growing up in this area shape your sense of humor?
Abbi: Abbi on the show is from Philly. I try to play that up as much as I can. I don’t know — I think my parents are really funny. I had a pretty cool childhood. I definitely draw all of my material from my life.
PM: The Abbi character seems like you, with certain traits amplified. Read more »
Marc Vetri and Michael Solomonov. Photograph by Dustin Fenstermacher
[Sitting in Vetri’s recently renovated upstairs private dining room]
Michael: Wow, look at this. I used to sleep on a cot in that corner.
Marc: Yeah, it used to be this crappy apartment.
PM: When Michael worked for you, Marc, did you notice his talent right away? Can you spot talent?
Marc: I used to think that I could really figure folks out when they walked into the kitchen. But after a certain amount of time — ya know, two months, three months — they can walk out and you never see them again. They leave their knife bag and everything. They are just gone. So I really don’t think I can say that anymore.
Michael: It’s a generational thing, because when you and I first met, there certainly wasn’t anything like that happening here. Read more »