Philly’s icons are disappearing. The man behind the Bicentennial-erected “Clothespin” across from City Hall, Claes Oldenburg, has died. The angelic voice fronting The Delfonics and soul smashes such as “Ready or Not (Here I Come),” William Hart passed. The man behind world-famous Ralph’s Italian Restaurant on Ninth Street, Ralph Dispigno Jr., the son of its founder, Rafael Dispigno, has also died. Oh, the humanity. Go out, stand below the “Clothespin,” have some spinach gnocchi and sing all of the Delfonics sweet summer hits. You’ll feel better, sweltering 100-degree days and all.
Speaking of time and things passing: this column of mine, Boldface, is closing, changing and morphing into something else, blossoming into a different kind of celeb-driven butterfly. It’s been lovely, masking and un-masking Philadelphians. See you in a minute with new wings on.
Know what else is less gone than in transition—the just-now closed Distrito in University City. The two-floor Mexicali menu restaurant with the diggable cocktails and the Volkswagen Beetle is getting the big revaluation by its owner, creator-chef Jose Garces.
Matt Hendricks is playing games with Twenty One Pips, a new board game-driven restaurant along Ardmore’s Main Line, very much like his Thirsty Dice café in Philly that opened in 2018. Hendrick’s new venture opens July 22, all 5,000+ square feet, and I’ll be manning its vintage skeeball machines.
Hey, I miss hanging at Eastern State Penitentiary, too. Nothing’s really been afoot since ESP bosses shifted away from regular prison tours. Now, they’re announcing The Box, an intimate, immersive play about the ruins of solitary confinement to be staged Aug. 13-14.
Don’t adjust your television set—that was Philly indie music fave Alex G playing his new track “Runner” on Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘The Tonight Show’ – a track from ‘God Save the Animals,’ his new album due out Sept. 23.
Wawa has hooked up with the Cape May Brewing Co. for their “Shore Tea” collab — a peach iced tea with a 4.5% ABV. That’ll wake you up with your breakfast bagel.
Unmasked Philly: Jere Edmunds
Our last Unmasked Philly (for now) is a great one: the eternally young Philadelphia filmmaker, videographer, model, actor and promotional king Jere Edmunds. This month he is part of the 70s/80’s punk rock memorabilia fest that fills the Neon Museum of Philadelphia starting July 29. Along with getting back into nature and photography during the pandemic, he’s been manufacturing custom-made floral temporary tattoos, stickers, refrigerator magnets, prints and framed digital images, to say nothing of his ongoing work as producer and director at PhillyCAM. Edmunds is also responsible for The Inside Look web series and original documentary videos on Philadelphia artists of color such as Leroy Johnson and his newest episode on Betty Leacraft, so to celebrate their legacies.
“There’s been so much richness in my life,” says Edmunds, who is contemplating writing a book. Talking about the music in his life, Edmunds points to Madness’ “One Step Beyond,” and their gig at The Hot Club and U2 doing their thing at Stephen Starr’s Bijou Café. “Maybe 30 people came, but we hung backstage with them afterwards…average guys, but their concert and the energy, just another amazing night.”
Edmunds is also quick to namecheck Grace Jones, a performer he used to get mistaken for all the time. “My tastes vary in movie watching as well, as its all about my mood,” says Edmunds pointing out 1972’s ‘Buck and the Preacher’, the early James Bond films with Sean Connery, and the 1990 British comedy, ‘Nuns on the Run’. Books however, Edmunds has one choice: “’The Sandman’ by Neil Gaiman, one of the greatest comics-series ever written.”
Being that Edmunds is so tied to film and movie-making, his favorite Philly memory stems from him arranging for the Philadelphia premiere screening of ‘Liquid Sky’ (1984) at The Ritz movie theater on Dock Street. “I got it screened, and put together a grassroots promotional campaign to support and gather interest in this cult classic. It was an amazing experience among many amazing experiences in this city.”