PHOTOS: Chubby Checker, Jerry Blavat and Others Polish Their Plaques on Philly “Walk of Fame”

Tuesday volunteers from Philadelphia Music Alliance, Avenue of the Arts Inc., and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 8 polished all 121 bronze plaques along the Avenue of the Arts’ “Walk of Fame. Volunteers started at 8 a.m. and finished around noon. 

The plaques recognize the musical talent of those who were born in Philadelphia—from singers Patti LaBelle and Bessie Smith to legendary DJ Georgie Woods and songwriter Linda Creed. The volunteers got down on their hands and knees using steel wool, tooth brushes, cloths and polish to bring the plaques back to their original shine. (Most were laid over 20 years ago).

On hand to see their stars shine once again were radio personality Jerry Blavat, Chubby Checker, Earl Jones, Kenny Gamble, and Joseph Tarsia. Also spotted: Teddy Pendergrass II, who was on hand to polish his father’s plaque, and Philly-born musicians Jade Starling and Whey Cooler from Pretty Poison.

Check out the newly shining stars located between Walnut and Spruce Streets. You might want to bring sunglasses, they’re bright.



Plaques Along Avenue of the Arts’ “Walk of Fame” to Get a Good Polishing Next Week

philly-s-walk-of-fameTo kick off the start of the fall arts season in the city, the Philadelphia Music Alliance, Avenue of the Arts, and the I.A.T.S.E. Local Union 8 will polish the plaques along the Walk of Fame in honor of our rich musical culture.

Next Tuesday, September 23rd, with help from local volunteers and Philadelphia’s music community—including Walk of Fame honorees Chubby Checker, Dee Dee Sharp, Charlie Gracie, Jerry Blavat, and more—Making The Stars Shine will clean and polish the 121 bronze plagues along the Walk of Fame. The Walk spans the Avenue of the Arts from Walnut Street to Spruce Street, honoring Philly’s musical history and esteemed legends.

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Two Bells for Volver

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Craig LaBan weighs in on Jose Garces’ culinary return to Philadelphia. The Inquirer critic calls the cooking at Volvér “egocentric” though he does call many of the dishes three-bell worthy, if he could order them a la carte.

The plates, without doubt, were still camera-ready gorgeous: ember-seared cubes of Wagyu beef posed beside crimson swipes of beet puree; nasturtium leaves floated atop lubina sea bass in a composition of rice and shrimp evocative its own ecosystem; epic salads tweezered into perfect still lifes by talented chef de cuisine, Natalie Maronski. Those dishes were examples of Volvér at its best, in which the inspirations were prime ingredients, not biography. The intricate salad was a naturalistic playground of delicate greens, creamy cauliflower panna cotta, and sublimely sweet carrots drawn from the garden at Garces’ Luna Farms, lifted by tangy Meyer lemon puree and the faux “dirt” of goat-cheese crumbles tinted black with squid ink.

Two Bells – Very Good

Garces’ Volvér overdoes the culinary performance art [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Volvér [Foobooz]

Trey Popp’s four-star review of Volvér [Philadelphia Magazine]

Newly Listed: Center City Condo for Just Shy of $4 Million

looking at symphony house from spaceUnit 2008 at Symphony House spans what the listing describes as “the full southern hemisphere of floor 20,” which makes me envision the city as a globe with Broad Street as the Equator. (It does seem hotter below Broad, doesn’t it?) The huge condo does have enough amenities for a small planet, such as multiple TVs, including a 60 inch plasma; floor-to-ceiling glass walls with city views; custom Viking and Sub-Zero appliances; Smart House and sound systems; a bidet; another apartment within the apartment, with a separate entrance and full kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom and full bath; three garage parking spots; and then all the amenities the building itself has. Plus, this unit still has time on a tax abatement.

Gallery below.

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Checking In At Bar Volver

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People go to bars for all kinds of reasons. To hang out with neighbors over three-dollar lagers. To knock back Beam-and-Pabst specials while stomping their feet to liquor-drinking music. To find out what happens when an eccentric teetotaler mixes a vast booze library with grapes juiced to order. To be quiet and get drunk.

In other words, to escape. And if Philadelphia is what you want to get away from, you need travel no further than to the bar at Volver.

Like the ticketed-entry dining room it abuts in the Kimmel Center, Jose Garces’ champagne-and-caviar lounge is in Philadelphia but not quite of it. Look one way and your eyes fall on a marbled white bar lit by the glow of four sleek halos that could have been commissioned by Starfleet. Look another—at an ultra-saturated blue textile mural crafted by local artist Conrad Booker out of 4,000 buttons and 200 yards of deeply dyed burlap—and you feel like you’ve warp-tunneled your way into Pedro Almodóvar’s Madrid. Meanwhile a soft-footed fleet of servers patrols the ebony-stained floorboards wearing black quasi-judo jackets trimmed with Jupiter orange, like a squad of acrobatic assassins waiting for Roger Moore to request a shaken martini.

It is a very, very cool place to sit down for an hour.

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Leftovers: Stray Thoughts From My Review Of Volver

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A few additional musings about my meal(s) at Volver

Volver is very expensive, but…
As I noted in my review, “There’s no arguing that the $600 my wife and I spent, including a few glasses of wine and an inspired beverage pairing, could have bought a fantastic meal elsewhere with enough money left over to feed 10 foster children for a month.” But it’s also true that a year’s worth of cable would feed even more mouths, and that forgoing an iPhone upgrade would save you enough for the full 14 courses at Volver. Personally, I still wrestle with the cost of meals like this. But the debate over the cost of dinner shouldn’t take place in a vacuum. Everybody makes his own choices about what to spend money on, and eating out is one among many options to spend wisely or poorly. I mean, right now the 76ers are selling single courtside tickets for $790. The Sixers! After going 19-63!

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Restaurant Review: Volvér

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Photos by Jason Varney

Editor’s Note: Beginning this month, Trey Popp’s reviews for Philadelphia magazine will be running first on Foobooz–weeks ahead of their appearing in print. And what better way to kick off this new arrangement than with the first four-star ranking that Trey has ever given–of his near-perfect experience at Jose Garces’s remarkable new restaurant, Volver.

Halfway through dinner at Volvér—after the scallop that was seared while still living, after the duck-liver mousse in a trick egg white conjured out of goat milk and orange-blossom water, after the puffed pork rinds with smoked-buttermilk dulce de leche and the bacalao takoyaki’s crepe-edged crackle—a savory course arrived in a pair of cupped hands. 

Read the rest of the review » 

Darrell Clarke Will Introduce Plans for Avenue of the Arts North Today

There’s an event today about which there’s scant information, but according to a Media Alert we received, City Council prez Darrell Clarke will “unveil plans for Avenue of the Arts North” today at a noontime press conference. He’ll be joined by developer Bart Blatstein; Ken Scott, President of Beech Interplex; and labor leaders.

The event is described this way in the alert:

A press conference to announce exciting new plans for Avenue of the Arts North, an economic development effort to extend the success of Center City’s Avenue of the Arts north of City Hall along wide swaths of undeveloped parcels along North Broad Street. Council President Clarke also will discuss the catalytic effect developer Bart Blatstein’s proposed Provence Resort & Casino Central would have on additional development on the Avenue of the Arts North project, which is on the former site of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. Council President Clarke also will be touting economic incentives for developers interested in the Avenue of the Arts North project, including a 10-year property tax abatement for new commercial construction, low-interest loans, tax breaks and more.

Clarke has been a fan of Blatstein’s Provence from the start, endorsing the project at its launch party. The Beech Interplex consortium is composed of dozens of groups with a stake in the Cecil B. Moore community. Beech’s real estate developments includes buildings on and around Temple’s campus as well as the Blue Horizon, and more.

Interested in what Clarke has going on? Find out at Broad and Spring Garden outside of Tower Place at noon.

Southstar Lofts: Gaze Upon Carl Dranoff’s Latest Opening

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Carl Dranoff hosted the grand opening for Southstar Lofts on Wednesday, but by then his newest apartment building was already 40 percent spoken-for. “It’s the fastest we’ve ever leased,” he said during a tour of the four-story mid-rise just before the party. And they’ve leased a lot – particularly on the Avenue of the Arts (see: 777 South Broad, Symphony House and the incoming SLS tower), which Dranoff champions as a combination of Michigan Avenue, Park Avenue and Broadway.

Southstar, which broke ground last March, features 85 thoughtfully appointed units and was designed to be a sister property to 777 South Broad. Dranoff says they brought some of 777’s most popular features to Southstar and built upon them. Details like 26-inch-wide sinks in each unit, enormous trash rooms built so that the entire room can be wiped down, and free, full-sized washers and dryers available in addition to your in-unit laundry were imported a few blocks north.

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