The Ultimate All-Time Philly Cocktail Party

You can invite any Philadelphian, dead or alive

In Philly Mag’s current “List Issue,” there is the “Ultimate Philly Cocktail Party,” to which I somehow got an invite. (My friends are convinced that I paid Philly Mag off, though their conspiracy theory falls flat when they are reminded that I don’t have any money.) The party sounds pretty spectacular—with local luminaries such as Ed Rendell, ?uestlove, and Shane Victorino—and got me thinking, what if we could throw a cocktail party for Philadelphians from any time period? How would you like to sit down for a martini with a few of our favorite forefathers? Who would you invite to an All-Time Philadelphian Cocktail Party? Here’s my guest list. (Rule: They have to have either grown up here or lived here for at several years as an adult.)

Ben Franklin. Unless you are a malcontent or some sort of a weirdo, you’re putting Ben Franklin on the guest list. No brainer.

Joey Bishop. Would love to drink a few martinis while he tells me about life with the Rat Pack.

John Coltrane. We’d ask him to provide tunes for the evening, then after the party was over, the last few folks in attendance would loosen their ties, drink scotch and listen to Coltrane talk about Miles Davis, Bird and Gillespie.

William Penn. Would do anything to know what he loves about the city he started and, after a few drinks, would love to hear him get fired up about everything we’ve done wrong over the past 300+ years.

Margaret Mead. Oh, like I’m the only person who’d be interested in hearing Mead talk about sexual practices of Samoans in the 1920s.

Ed Bradley. Interviewed Michael Jackson? Check. Interviewed Timothy McVeigh? Check. Interviewed Michael Jordan? Check. Think Bradley would bring a few stories to the table?

Marian Anderson. A rags-to-riches story, the epitome of grace and class, and furthermore, got her start at a church right around the corner from my house. And if we could convince her to do a few numbers with Coltrane, wow. That would be beyond belief.

Frank Furness. Not only did he design some of the most kickass Victorian buildings in Philadelphia (First Unitarian Church, UPenn Library, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts), he also served with distinction at the Battle of Gettysburg. I’m tempted to also invite Ed Bacon, just to see if they’d be fast friends or instant enemies. I’m guessing the latter.

Grace Kelly. Born to local legend Jack Kelly, starred in Hollywood films, married a prince, and yet somehow, according to virtually everyone, lacked pretension. Her presence would certainly add class and beauty to the occasion.

Wilt Chamberlain. I’d love to talk to Wilt about the 100-point game, but something tells me he’d be much more interested in talking to Grace Kelly than talking to me.

Larry Fine. As if hearing about the Three Stooges wouldn’t be cool enough, it’d also be great to learn more about the city’s 1920s vaudeville scene.

George McClellan. Cocky, handsome and smart, he was major general for the North early in the Civil War. After he got canned by Lincoln, he tried to get revenge by running against Honest Abe in the 1864 election. He got crushed. Played an enormous role in American history. Would love to hear his side of it over a cold one.