Two new faces, one newer than the other, dot Philly’s sport landscape this week, and get a BOLDFACE welcome: the Philadelphia Eagles first round draft pick, Jordan Davis played college ball in Georgia, and has been winning awards as defensive tackle since he was a kid. Hello. Then there’s Tobias Harris of the 76ers. No. He’s not exactly new, but with Joel Embiid out, again, he’s the man charged with making this b-ball playoff round count. So, prayers.
Francophile things in the Philly area always signal Spring to me, as if I need Spring signaling beyond shrubbery and the smell of outdoor food trucks. The first is Hotel Sofitel and its monthly art installation/Wednesday happy hours/influencer mixers. The first reception/gallery exhibition in the Spring series features local artist Dana Salzone’s ‘Travel by Colors’, and just happens to be Sofitel Philadelphia’s first art jam as such since the pandemic. Then, across a bridge in Wilmington, for one-night-only, is Philly chef Tyler Akin’s Le Cavalier pop up at Hagley Museum and Library, on May 12. Akin will be working French-inspired grilled bites touching on the vibe of North African street food in Paris. Dig it.
Hey, does your Philly house have that new value smell, and it’s making you queasy? That means you’ve been reassessed; you and over 580,000 residential, commercial, industrial and institutional properties in the city are getting reevaluated and revalued for Tax Year 2023, for property taxes that will be due on March 31, 2023. That’s your mayor, the same guy who offered the police $10,000 (sorry, $11,000) for new recruits when they asked for $110,000. I know that Kenney is also working to reignite the Philly First Home Program for new home purchase accessibility to those lacking all of its means, so yay. But, the reassessment thing, after the pandemic’s hurting, is just in poor taste, and fiscal misjudgment.
For nearly 20 years, Puebla, Mexican immigrant Chef Eladio Soto has been part of this city’s restaurant scene. Before Spring turned green, however, Soto finally opened his own restaubar, El Mezcal Cantina, along Point Breeze Avenue. Billed as “street food” savvy, look for a menu filled with head-on shrimp, adobo, sweet corn puree tacos, cowboy steaks with cactus and salsa and a very spicy happy hour.
Parting. Meet sweet sorrow: It sounds as if Philly’s delicate indie-folk ensemble, A Day Without Love, will lose its longtime singing songwriter Brian Walker to the great North East of New England by summer. Sad. Anyway, the band Without Love play one last celebratory fare thee well gig at Madame Saito on May 6 for/with Walker just in time for their new single, “Show Friends,” to drop. Also leaving town, but not for good, is Doylestown’s rocking Ceramic Animal who’ll head out on tour soon to open for The Black Keys stadium shows this summer. They have a last gig too on May 6, only this one is in Atlantic City at the Anchor Rock Club. Philly, you have to decide who you like more, head out, and pay some respects.
Unmasked Philly: Jeff Schaller
We’re moving out to Chester County for this week’s Unmasked Philly to get hold out Jeff Schaller, the founder of the Chester County Studio Tour, who, come May 14-15 holds his next event showcasing art and artists from 66+ studios in the area with Philly art connoisseurs, collectors, and curious neighbors.
Schaller is a painter himself with a whimsical pop/expressionist edge and 30-feet-long murals for the Philadelphia Arts Commission’s transportation centers to prove it. Check here for the tour stuff: countystudiotour.com.
As for Schaller when he’s not leading tours and painting, he and the college sweetheart he married 27 years ago have 3 kids (“two of them getting married this year, both of my daughters, so I’m freaking out a little bit now”), a dog named Giorgio and 5 chickens, and like to hang out “roaming the great outdoors in search of great food, clothing and fine cocktails.”
Not a huge television fan, Schaller does admit to being a little excited about ‘Ozark’ on Netflix, and followed them to this year’s final season, and seems to be of two minds when it comes to movies, Tarantino-style violence, then family fare like ‘Elf’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. And musically, he’s all over the map: “morning in the studio with Mozart, by noon, country or blues, by 3:00 Moby and the Ramones, and dinner comes with some 40’s cocktail music or Bossa Nova. “If I go back to the studio, it’s lo-fi to chill. I use music to keep the voices in my head quiet.”
As for life’s big moments, along with helping to deliver his son, and gallery shows of his work in Switzerland (“The whole fam rented a boat in France and sailed in the canals for 4 days stopping at small towns and exploring along the way,”) Schaller is proud to have his artwork on the set of “Friends” with his painting hanging in the show’s set of Central Perk.
“I don’t have “spare time”. I’m too busy enjoying and doing things wherever inspiration can be found – in a walk, a drive, a family gathering or just completing a task. I rarely have nothing to do because there is always some inspiration to be found. I really do enjoy working in the yard and even more so when it involves making a stone wall or some masonry project.”