A Match Made in Heaven

It’s not often that an artist and a composer meet at a Bar Mitzvah,  and the result is a song destined to greet thousands of cathedral visitors during a papal visit.

But when artist Meg Saligman described her vision for a collaborative art installation at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia,  Betsy Alexander could almost hear the musical accompaniment playing in her head.

The result was “Help Us Mary”,  her hauntingly beautiful complement to Saligman’s  Knotted Grotto.


We first introduced you to Betsy Alexander this summer, when we toured the fabulous home she shares with her artist husband Burnell Yow! and a phalanx of cats, including internationally celebrated Nora the Piano Cat.

15_09_29 0 DC_5299(Betsy at the keyboard with Nora, left, and Max) Continue reading

Where There’s Life…There’s Pope

With our cars safely parked and no festival tickets in hand, we had no intention of joining the teeming mob around Pope Francis this weekend.  But, hey:  After staring out at the half-empty South Philly streets on Saturday  (“Just look at those empty parking spots!”),  we couldn’t sit home any longer.


So at 4 pm,  we headed up eerily traffic-free Broad Street,  past the National Guardsmen,  souvenir hawkers,  concrete barriers,  and (even more) blocks of port-a-potties,  until we reached the Jumbotrons heralding the Pope’s visit to Independence Hall…

15_09_27 1 Jumbotron CM_7015(A crowd gathers at Broad and Lombard Streets with City Hall in the background
to watch the Pope arrive at Independence Hall.) Continue reading

On the Pope Festival Trail…Without the Pope

Like most South Philadelphians who didn’t get Festival tickets or flee to the shore,  we’ll be home clutching our parking spots this weekend.

But before our Broad Street Subway entrance closes — and the security checkpoints click in around the “Secure Event Perimeter” (aka the “Pope Francis Festival Grounds”) —  we headed to the Parkway on Wednesday evening to check out the preparations…


  15_09_25 00 Banner_6640   15_09_25 01 Visitors DC_9971(One of the hundreds of banners lining the route from city hall to the art museum.  And, yes, these World Meeting of Families visitors were noshing on Subway sandwiches by the fountain.)
Continue reading

The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 5)

If you’ve followed our blog and website, you know that a friend gave us a fabulous housewarming gift:  a 12-pound photo album from the 1960s, packed with images from nightspots in and around South Philadelphia.

You also know that we’ve been on a grand hunt to identify the hundreds of entertainers,  sports figures,  business people,  politicians and  “just plain folks” cavorting on its pages, with the goal of donating them to Temple University’s Urban Archives for safe-keeping.

15_09_18 1 Jimmy Durante(South Philly nightclub favorite Jimmy Durante, left, with Arthur Tavani, the nightlife
columnist and photographer who assembled the photo album in the 1960s)

Now we’d like to get  you  involved in the hunt… Continue reading

Thanks for the (Fringe Fest) Memories…

Thanks to everyone who came out for  “Are We There Yet?”,   Kate’s mid-century, bad-postcard travel tour,  and part of the 2015 Philly Fringe Festival…

15_09_14 1 Bargain Box Cards(Want to understand the Baby Boom generation and their parents?
Look no further…)

Guests were offered bad ’60s appetizers, like pigs-in-a-blanket and a scary-looking port wine cheese roll with Ritz crackers.  And, yes, everything predictably disappeared – except for the healthy vegetable bowl…

15_09_14 2 Kate & Ann(Fellow Philadelphia Dumpster Diver Ann Keech, right, helps unload the goods. See her work at the Fringe Festival “Pope Up” show, weekends through Sept. 26.) Continue reading

THIS WEEK: Join Kate for her Fringe Festival Show – Sept. 8 & 13!

Houses built from bottles.  Room-sized loaves of bread.  A restroom in a redwood tree.  Mid-century Americans could see it all – and now you can, too – along with dinosaur parks, wacky food festivals, and museums celebrating everything from atomic bombs to cypress knees…

15_09_07 1 KS bread(Your tax dollars at work at the Fort Hayes Experiment Station in Kansas)

Join me on Tuesday, Sept. 8 (7:30 pm) or Sunday, Sept. 13 (5 pm) for “Are We There Yet? Roadside Delights of the 1950s and 1960s”, a free-wheeling postcard tour of America’s oddest tourist attractions, all part of the 2015 Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

Continue reading