Have you noticed “passion” has become a buzzword? At the very least, it’s overused. Every whiny dick-munch on the Real World or sad sack trying out for American Idol has a “passion” for something. But really they don’t—they use the word like it’s a ticket to an event called The Life I Think I Deserve. Which is a crying shame, because real passion is a beautiful thing. Take mixologist Katie Loeb of the Oyster House, for instance. She has a passion for making killer cocktails, and you can taste it—she doesn’t have to say it. The assortment of bitters, citrus fruit peel cut for twists and specialty liquors behind the bar that help her brew up scrumptious concoctions are myriad, and watching her work her mixologist magic is a pleasure. After all, she’s not just mixing cocktails, she’s teaching a class on the true meaning of passion.
Oyster House, 1516 Sansom St. 215.567.7683. oysterhousephilly.com
In order to become a true, honest-to-goodness Jedi Mind Tricks fan, you either need to have a good-natured disposition or a large surplus of inner-anger; preferably both. Headquartered in South Philly for roughly a decade now, the wide reach of JMT’s massive popularity in the underground hip-hop world seems to expand with each new independently released album. Yet regardless of the group’s incredibly offensive lyrics—which range from pro-radical Islamism to anti-Christian sentiment and even homophobia—the pulse-pounding JMT beats are so addictive it’s hard not to forgive the group its nasty prejudices. Whether or not you agree with what MC Vinnie Paz has to say—and it’s a safe bet that most of his biggest fans don’t—there’s no doubt that each and every furiously angry verse is nothing less than 100 percent genuine. Now that’s real hip-hop.
The Great Recession is a bitch. But there’s at least one perk to getting laid off: your Friday afternoons are free, making it much easier to make it to one (or all) of ’XPN’s Free at Noon concerts at World Cafe Live. Occasionally they feature high-profile local artists, but most of the time it’s top-shelf singer/songwriter royalty; last year’s acts included Peter Bjorn and John, Andrew Bird, Erin McKeown, Raphael Saadiq, Indigo Girls, M. Ward, Dr. Dog and Gov’t Mule, among many others. The first question from the stage is usually the same: “Don’t you people have jobs?” Largely, no. But that means many of the same faces are free to show up week after week, naturally building a hybrid concert club/unemployment therapy group. Who needs income when you’ve got friends?
World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.573.WXPN. xpn.org
You’ll never see it unless you go there, but you’ll definitely feel it, in both the money and environment that PECO is saving. When it opened last year, the roof of the PECO building became the largest green roof built on any preexisting structure in Pennsylvania. At nearly an acre, it improves stormwater runoff, which definitely helps on the hardscaped Market Street below; regulates the temperature of the building, which lowers the bottom line of your electric bill; and fosters natural wildlife, from birds to native grasses and plants. Plus, they offer tours, which means you can go visit one of the places that’s improving the city, literally, from the top down.
PECO Building, 2301 Market St. peco.com.
Founded last year by Catherine Dentino and Paul Yavarone, Pterodactyl Philadelphia is the only place in the city where you can learn how to make badass art from animal remains. On Thursday nights, Katie Elia teaches the basics, including the initial steps of boiling, bleaching and preserving the bones of deceased critters, and then students determine what kind of art they want to make and dictate the rest of the curriculum. If you’re into live animals, Darla Jackson (whose gorgeous animals sculptures you’ve seen everywhere from the late Mew Gallery to Urban Outfitters) teaches the two-part “Introduction to Animal Sculpture,” which starts off with bone basics, segues into taxidermy and ends up with a segment on modeling live animals. There are also classes on sewing and comic book creation, but they’re way less likely to make your mom wonder what the hell happened to you after college.
Pterodactyl Philadelphia, 3237 Amber St., fifth fl. 215.501.7158. pterodactylphiladelphia.org.
Jennie Hatton is the PR guru behind the biggest, most talked about restaurants (and the names behind them) in the city—Jose Garces, Zahav, Pub & Kitchen, Tria—and by virtue gets first dibs on the lip smacking grub coming out of their kitchens. She’s always quick to give tips about what’s next, what’s delicious and what creative flavors are going to have the city abuzz. What’s more (and for that matter, rare), she doesn’t just pimp the chefs and restaurants on her client roster. This chick loves food, and is just as happy to talk Tangier Café’s bang-up wings (not a client, but her favorite in the city none-the-less), as she is the new rabbit heart dish chef and client Michael Solomonov is serving. Hatton bats a thousand with her recommendations too: We’ve yet to try anything she’s raved about that didn’t absolutely deliver.
Follow Hatton and the crew at Profile PR via their Twitter @ProfileTip.
It was an emotional night when longtime WPVI weatherman Dave Roberts retired. As Roberts delivered his final report with quavering voice and tears in his eyes, the entire WPVI staff and Roberts family (including his son, Bones actor David Boreanaz) crowded into the studio to say goodbye. Overwhelmed by the support, Roberts delivered a touching off-the-cuff speech thanking his family, the viewers, the crew and his dear friend, anchor Jim Gardner. The two “old gray-haired guys” exchanged “I love you, mans” and remembered the dearly departed Gary Papa, who died last year after battling cancer. In a town where broadcasters are the closest we get to celebrities, this is the Philly equivalent of a great Oscar speech.
Hopping aboard one of those overpriced bus tours that always seem to be circling Old City can actually be an effective way to discover the uniqueness of Philadelphia. No matter what your opinion of big-city tours may be, though, the “overpriced” aspect is nearly impossible to escape. That is, unless you’re willing to think outside the tourist-trap box. For those willing to slum it, Septa’s 23 bus will give you a distinctly more realistic and diverse view of Philly. Going the full distance on this former trolley route takes about an hour, and as the trip progresses you’ll pass through historic Germantown and Mt. Airy, the retail playground of Chestnut Hill, the tourist-friendly Reading Terminal Market, and eventually the heart of red-sauce South Philly. And with an admission fee of just $1.45 each way, you may even be able to buy yourself a souvenir.
Septa Bus Routes, 215.580.7800. septa.org
Perhaps not surprisingly, South Philly has always been home to a fair selection of affordably priced gyms. But when the quickly expanding Planet Fitness chain opened a location in Quartermaster Plaza, cardio fanatics and jarheads alike took notice. While the generously-sized room is coated in a truly awful yellow-and-purple paint job and the high-school-aged employees seem to have a collective chip on their shoulders, the price of admission is ridiculously low: Monthly memberships start at just $10. Although various fees will set you back another $88 annually, there are numerous sales during which the majority of those fees are waived. As for the equipment, it’s essentially brand-new. The free weight collection isn’t exactly overflowing, but we guarantee you’ve never seen so much cardio equipment in one spot. The only truly unfortunate aspect? You no longer have an excuse not to get in shape.