When I was told the theme for this week was food, I was ecstatic because it meant this was an excuse to write about my favorite thing ever. Growing up in a family of ‘foodies,’ every social interaction I had was centered around food: reunions, birthdays and even meetings. Soon, it became more than just a pastime, rather a hobby and passion. Even after living in the area for three years now, I have a constant bucket list of restaurants that keeps getting longer. From a French-North African bistro to a fun dim sum bar, Philadelphia is far more gastronomically diverse than most people think, featuring some unique fusion restaurants and outstanding cuisines with a twist. For this piece, I decided to go with five recommendations of the most fascinating concepts or unique menus I have come across so far.
Specializing in some incredible Spanish tapas, Amada is by far one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia. Located right on Chestnut Street and just two blocks away from The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Amada’s iconic open-kitchen is complemented by a seated bar overlooking the tapa preparation, along with a lounge area. During their happy hour, they serve $5 tapas ranging from a cheese platter with truffle honey to traditional Spanish croquetas and patatas bravas. Despite functioning as a tapa house, they have a few grill and seafood options with portions large enough for a full meal, and are more than happy to help select a great wine to go with your meal.
“Fogo De Chao”
This Brazilian steakhouse features various fire roasted meats that are carved tableside by the chefs. The full lunch experience is $36.95 for unlimited food, including trips to the salad bar. If you are a red meat person, Fogo De Chao is a haven that serves some incredible filet mignon cooked to perfection. The salad bar includes sides such as different cheeses, veggies, parfaits and even fruit. Fogo De Chao is situated right next to Dilworth Park in my favorite and also the most lively area in Philly with different restaurants and bars around such as Sampan, El Vez, Time, and more. Alternatively, Fogo De Chao has another branch in King of Prussia. Definitely work up an appetite before heading to Fogo De Chao and make the most of the all you can eat dining experience.
“Bing Bing Dim sum”
Located in the booming East Passyunk restaurant district, Bing Bing Dim Sum is a fun, Pan-Asian restaurant with a great happy hour that also features bar food for $5 per dish including bao buns, dumplings, and even salad. The dishes are best to share family style, and the menu indicates both vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Aside from their range of dumplings, they offer a few noodle and rice dishes. Both their food and drink menus are short but fun and creative.
Situated on South 9th Street, Restaurant Neuf puts a unique and interesting twist on their dishes by serving Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian flavors with a French twist. This North African restaurant serves a range of dishes, from delicately cooked seafood to a flavorful spicy braised goat leg, including a variety of delicious tagines and unique dishes such as a date-stuffed quail. Their Tunisian meatballs seem to be the most popular, and they have a brunch-only menu that is completely different from the regular dining menu. Restaurant Neuf is ideal if you are looking for a completely new and unique dining experience and an incredibly flavorful cuisine.
Belonging to the same owner as Restaurant Neuf, Noord is a BYOB Scandinavian-Dutch restaurant located in South Philly right in front of the singing fountain. The neighborhood tends to be relatively busy with different restaurants and boutiques in the area. The restaurant is incredibly cozy with dim lighting, and the dishes arrive incredibly fast. The menu features mainly red meat and seafood dishes yet is still incredibly vegetarian friendly. Noord is usually only open for dinner with the exception of a Sunday brunch. The flavors are more delicate than at its sister branch, but all of the dishes are exceptionally prepared.
It’s easy to go with the ‘safe’ option of an American gastro pub or your favorite Pan-Asian restaurant, but there are some incredibly creative and unique concepts all over the city that are definite musts. These five restaurants not only serve incredible food, but are also coupled with the best ambiances and locations. Venture out to the city this weekend for an outstanding culinary experience, and explore the different lounges and bars in the area too!
It took two and a half hours, three buses, and a minor accommodation crisis, but I made it to the 2017 Philadelphia Comic Con just in time for my first volunteer shift on Friday afternoon. Having neither volunteered at nor attended a fan convention before, I was almost vibrating out of my jeans and official “Geek Crew” T-shirt with nervous excitement for the three-day-long event. The convention was set up across two halls in an expo center, sectioned off for artists, vendors, exhibitors, actors and panel rooms, respectively. The whole place was quiet and empty when I first saw it the night before during the volunteer training session, as if the building itself was holding its breath in anticipation of the thousands who would soon crowd in through the doors in a celebration of collective nerdery.
I’d signed up for a significant number of volunteering hours and so scored a free meal per day and a complimentary weekend pass to the convention. The only downside was having less time and freedom to wander around as a guest. Still, the less cool stuff I saw, the less I’d be tempted to spend, and I was slated for a cushy job helping out in the panel rooms, so I’d get to attend all of the talks and Q&As anyways.
But Beth Kovacs, Volunteer Coordinator and all-round superwoman, threw me a curveball barely five minutes after I walked in the door. As it turns out, the panel rooms were running fine on their own. I was promptly transferred to Celebrity Row.
This was, without doubt, 100 percent as awesome as it sounds.
I imagine it would be quite an emotional rollercoaster if meeting half of your nerdy heroes, not to mention your celebrity crush, was the experience that popped your Comic Con cherry. It was definitely more of an emotional apocalypse for me to get to work alongside mine all weekend. It all began about halfway through that first shift, when I was pulled from floating around keeping an eye on things and assigned specifically to LeVar Burton’s table. You may have heard of him from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” or “Reading Rainbow”: between keeping his rapidly-lengthening line under control, taking photos of him with fans on strangers’ iPhones attempting to squash the fangirl in me screaming, “Oh my stars, it’s Lieutenant Commander Geordi La-freaking-Forge!” and the overall novelty of being at Comic Con, I was way too overwhelmed to actually do my job well. On the one hand, Burton spoke to me directly a few times and was aware of my existence for a full hour and a half. On the other, I was constantly distracted, which must have annoyed him. My mortification was only mildly alleviated when he left for his Q&A and I could finally groan, facepalm at myself, and slink back to the lower-stakes duties of general line management.
I made it a point to avoid Burton’s table for the rest of the convention. I may never be able to look him in the eye again.
The highlight of my day, though, was attending Jim Shooter’s panel on comic book writing. Now, this man began writing Superman for DC Comics at the tender age of 13, worked his way up through the ranks to become Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, founded Valiant Comics, and cemented his place as a legend in the comic book industry. Despite technical difficulties and what had clearly been a long and rough journey to get to the convention, he delivered some of the best advice I’ve ever heard on writing with impeccable eloquence. His incredible storytelling abilities shone through in his speech, captivating the audience the same way his comics do.
I got to meet the man himself at his table afterward, though I found myself completely tongue-tied in the presence of someone who clearly knew just how much his skillset was worth, yet retained a deep sense of humility and honesty that so many talented individuals lose. He was incredibly sweet and kind enough to give me an autograph on a small scrap of paper containing his rough doodle of the Defiant Comics logo without so much as raising an eyebrow. When I came back to him on Sunday to ask for his autograph again, this time on a Doctor Solar issue that he wrote, I’m sure he remembered me as the odd, awkward child who could barely stammer out that she loved his work, but he signed the comic for me just as readily as he’d signed the scrap of paper two days before. Plus, anyone who visited his table got to look through a compilation of letters, articles, comic books and photographs documenting his journey in the comic book industry, dating all the way back to the ’60s. Needless to say, I was there for awhile, flipping happily through his personal history and listening to his occasional commentary on certain pages.
Following that, a series of events ended with me befriending a Nyota Uhura (a character from the Star Trek franchise) cosplayer named Joelyn, whom I’d seen at Burton’s table, and her staying with Rachel Davis ‘19 and myself at a hotel near the convention center for the rest of the weekend. Rachel joined us at the convention the next day, cosplaying as Nurse Joy (and later Hoothoot) from the Pokémon franchise. Plus, I ran into several other Swatties who also decided to join in on the fun at the beginning of my Saturday shift, when the crowd was still slowly trickling in … and then the madness of the emotional apocalypse on Celebrity Row resumed, when I got roped into helping out with Brianna Hildebrand’s line.
(Remember what I said earlier about a celebrity crush?
It was her first day at the convention and fans were showing up in droves to speak to the young Deadpool star. I was on my feet for six hours total that day and did not regret a moment of it, as watching Brianna interact with her fans was absolutely adorable. Ian Garrison ’18, bless his soul, kept texting me from where he was standing in Alan Tudyk’s line to just “Take the plunge and go talk to her!” She ended up leaving the convention before I could pull myself together enough to warrant interaction, so I found myself repeating both the six hours of standing and the not daring to go up to her on Sunday, albeit by then her line had dwindled down enough that I didn’t have to stay rooted to the spot six feet away from her to keep the crowd under control. I did eventually screw up enough willpower to approach her near the very end of the convention and obtain her autograph, along with approximately half a minute’s worth of conversation. She goes from girl next door to badass superhero in about half a second—talk about a girl who can do both.
I also had the honor of meeting her Deadpool costar, Jed Rees, and complimented him on how uproariously hilarious he was in “Galaxy Quest.” He recognized me as a volunteer and gave me two autographs for the price of one. Bless his soul—I wish his character had some chance of reappearing in the upcoming Deadpool sequel, but alas. Hildebrand, however, confirmed at her panel that Negasonic Teenage Warhead would return. Cue more internal screaming and a mild existential crisis over the revelation that Marvel owns a disturbingly large portion of my life now.
But at last, it was time for the climax of Comic Con: the Cosplay Contest. The halls were packed with cosplayers from every fandom under the sun, some of whom were in it for the trophies, some of whom were just dressed up for the fun of it. From an eerie Fiddlesticks complete with voice modifier to an actual Iron Man suit of armor, the competition was fierce and the crowd lost its collective geek minds whenever a particularly impressive contender strutted across the stage. In the end, a Game of Thrones group in armor that one of the cosplayers forged himself took home the prize for Best Overall. If the rumors are true, it was a well deserved win: I was told that each of the men’s outfits took several months to make, and on top of that, there was the task of creating the girls’ dresses.
Sunday made for a pretty uneventful volunteering (i.e. people-wrangling) experience, so I managed to wander a little farther than I’d done the previous two days and browsed the artwork, costume accessories, comic books and other fandom paraphernalia for sale. Most of what I ended up purchasing was artwork, most notably a gorgeous Tommy Castillo piece that I would totally show off in a photo, except I didn’t want it to get squashed on the bus ride back to Swat and his lovely wife Sammy offered to ship it to me for free. I’m left counting the days till I can pick it up at the post office and it will be the first thing I unpack when I move into my new room next fall.
Before I begrudgingly dragged myself onto the train back to Swat, I didn’t quite get to say goodbye to everyone I’d gotten to know, as, unfortunately, time and public transportation wait for no one But this prompted the realization that what really surprised me about Comic Con wasn’t the fact that I got to meet some of the biggest names in the fandom, or the abundance of terrifyingly realistic costume weaponry on sale. It was the people. I got to spend precious time bonding with my friends: I wandered the halls with Rachel, hung out in the lounge with Joelyn and attended panels with Ian during breaks. And, while I was on the job, I got to know and work with a group of selfless individuals who would stay on the ball all day to make sure the guests had as great of a Comic Con experience as they could possible have. Adam inducted me into the fine art of arranging people in line into, well, a neater line, Greg hung out with me during the mundane periods of just standing around, Michelle chatted with me about zombified Disney princesses and Crystal, who managed all of Celebrity Row, was a boss both in the sense that she’s bleeping good at what she does and in that she was pretty much the boss of me for the duration of Comic Con. More than the celebrities or the cosplayers, the “Geek Crew” were the real superheroes to me. It was an honor to get to serve amongst them and we’re all already making plans to do it again together next year. (We even started a Facebook group, so you know we’re serious.)
The thing is, Comic Con is more than just the culmination of years of obsession over a beloved franchise. It’s a space for nerds to geek out unabashedly without fear of judgement. There’s very little judgment to be found at Comic Con (unless you count the Cosplay Contest judges) and the fantastic nature of the fandoms represented at this event allows fans to stretch the boundaries of their imagination far beyond the four walls of the convention center. It’s not a perfect space, of course, but for many guests, it’s a refuge, and they empathize too strongly with the need to occasionally escape from their daily lives to want to ruin this shared haven for someone else. The convention’s mere existence has the potential to change lives for the better by providing a hard-won place for us geeky misfits to belong.
And, if you ever encounter that one jerk who just has to rain on the brightly-costumed parade: have no fear, the Geek Crew is here.
If i’m not mistaken, this will be my third to last CJ piece this semester, which means the year is wrapping up. It’s kind of crazy how simultaneously fast and slow time moves here. So with only a few weeks left and the finals period about to kick in, here are some possibilities to blow off some steam, or just treat yourself.
The other night, I went to Hibachi Japanese Steak House and Sushi bar, which is just up the road. Unless you’re in a large group, it makes for an intimate experience dining with total strangers, embarrassing yourselves as the chef insists on flipping shrimp off the grill and into your mouths. In my case, the family sitting next to us had an extra coupon for 50 percent off your second entree, so I can’t complain.
After that, if you feel like walking, it’s only a five minute walk to the AMC Marple theater, and while I waited for the movie to start, I wandered in and out of Five Below, Marshalls and DSW.
Kong: Skull Island is in theaters now, which if you’re a fan, I would recommend. It’s a good dose of monsters and anxiety and Samuel L. Jackson blowing things up. But if that’s not your thing, Beauty and the Beast is showing, and Get Out is still in theatres, which if you haven’t already seen, you MUST.
If you are a sushi lover and haven’t tried Poké, there is a place nearby in Ardmore called Poké Ono. It’s a Hawaiian rice bowl with cubed raw fish and tons of other good stuff from edamame to kimchi. You can either build your own or order their specials. There’s also a place in Philly called Poké Bowl on 958 N 2nd St that is smaller than the one in Ardmore, but not by much. The one in Philly has better specials, but the one in Ardmore gives you more toppings if you build your bowl.
A great place to unwind and catch a quick exhibit is UPenn’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), located on 36th and Sansom. The museum is entirely free and often hosts artists events and workshops. Their most recent exhibition, The Freedom Principle, offered a survey of the visual culture that accompanied South Side Chicago’s avant-garde, post-1965 jazz movement, complete with interactive and sonic installations. Unfortunately, the exhibit ended last week, but the museum will be reopening April 28, so in the meantime, follow them on social media if you want up-to-date info on exhibits and events.
If you feel bold enough to venture out of University City, hit up Bluestone Lane Coffee for a late brunch. They have two Philly locations, one in Rittenhouse, and another right next to City Hall. Be sure to try their avocado toast or coconut oatmeal — both are good as hell.
On the flip side, while I’m reticent to mention this to all you future gentrifiers, 52nd street is the heart of West Philly and also poppin’. But since I know a lot of you will be moving there, I’m gonna push you to at least try to be patrons of some local business, so you don’t mess it up like ya’ll did Brooklyn. For great juices, love, and Caribbean food, hit up Brown Sugar Bakery. Get yourself some oxtail with the green callaloo, or curry goat roti. Get a fresh detox juice with that, stop playing yourself.
Overall, there are countless new events, activities, and spots to check out before the semester ends. Some are closer to Swarthmore, and others are further away – but all of them are worth it.
We all witnessed almost three million inspiring individuals take part in the Women’s March and celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th, but it doesn’t stop there. It is currently Women’s History Month, and there are some incredible and eclectic events happening around Philadelphia, which celebrate the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.
Women’s Film Festival
Taking place from March 16-19 at the Kimmel Center and Prince Theater, the Women’s Film Festival features and celebrates the work of phenomenal artists and women in the film industry. Tickets vary in price and start at $8.
The Philadelphia Women’s Theater Festival
Launched on International Women’s Day, the Philadelphia Women’s Theater festival is staging “Period Play: Eight Anachronisms from the Future Past.” The local playwright Hannah Sciver states that the play is about “refracting tiny glimpses of women’s history through the prism of today,” while upholding a critical eye and acknowledging the growth that is still needed. Organizers recognize the play as the hope of progress to come, and tickets are around $10-15.
The Body Wails, The Body Restores
Happening on March 17 and 18, artists and choreographers from Chicago join the Painted Bride Art Center in exhibiting a series of performances that engage in themes of race, trauma, history and womanhood, that ends with a discussion lead by Dr. Brenda Dixon-Gottschild; a cultural historian, anti-racist activist, and performer.
Dish It Up!
This one I will definitely be attending. Dish It Up Is a fundraising event based on a food competition featuring all female chefs. Tickets can be purchased online and donations can be submitted at the venue itself. The funds raised will support Women Against Abuse — a leading domestic violence organization comprised of advocates and service providers in Philadelphia.
Amplify! Black Women of the Movement Symposium
Featuring free admission, the African American Museum of Philadelphia, in collaboration with Independence National Historical Park and the Smithsonian Institute, have put together a symposium that both features and honors the work of African-American women which are often overlooked.
Philly Film Showcase
Taking place at the PFS Roxy Theater on Sansom Street, the film showcase and Friday reception will feature four screenings from female directors including: Amy Frear, Maaman Rezaee, Catalina Jordan Alvarez, and Lisa Jiang. The film showcase attendance fee runs on a pay-what-you-wish system.
Disrupting the Patriarchy 2017: Negotiating and Getting Things Done
Taking place at the Free Library Business Resource and Innovation Center (BRIC), a panel will teach the art of negotiation and how to get things done as a woman in a male-dominated society.
#SpeakUpPHL: A Feminist Art Workshop
This collaborative street event celebrates anything and everything to do with Women’s History Month. Sponsored by Blur and ishknits and New Century Trust, multiple prints of Blur’s iconic abstract ‘mouth’ in a range of colors that will be on multiple displays for anyone and everyone to fill with words, feelings and thoughts. The aim of #SpeakUpPHL is to celebrate the 135-year tradition of women speaking their minds, and once the displays have been filled up with words, they will be posted around various locations around the city.
Roxane Gay: Difficult Women
Take part in a conversation with Roxane Gay, an American feminist writer, professor, editor and commentator. Engage in discussion about her recent story collection called “Difficult Women,” which explores both “the privileged and impoverished, the loved and forsaken – a beautiful cross section of modern America.” The function is taking place at Parkway Central Library on Friday March 24.
The change in weather was instantaneous for most. A mix of museum regulars, families, and students, encrusted with ice shed their windproof layers and melted into the sounds of a decidedly warmer climate. As the recent bout of winter weather swept through Philadelphia last weekend, the Philadelphia Museum of Art opened its doors and tried to cure its visitors’ frostbite with Latin sound. As part of its ongoing series of Friday Night at the Museum, the PMA hosted Conjunto Philadelphia for a night of dancing to Cuban music. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has been offering this program this year and has showcased a different musical act each week that matches a monthly theme. March’s small-group musician theme brought the local group Conjunto Philadelphia up the iconic Rocky steps and into the marble atrium.
Visitors filed into the seating of the iconic staircase in the main hall, turning the solemn steps below the golden Diana into impromptu bleachers. Taking their place behind congas or lifting guatacas, the members of Conjunto Philadelphia wasted no time to introducing themselves and dove into their first set of the night. Ripping through the chatter, the trumpet of the first salsa of the night seemed to ring through one’s chest. Several visitors, who happened to be going up the stairs at the time and had not realized the band was starting, lost their footing as Conjunto Philadelphia’s opening bars shook the PMA. Some of the oldest and youngest in attendance carefully descended the staircase to dance in the space between the band and the crowd. Early on, guests still clung to the spaces they had carved out on the steps. As the evening crowd begin to thicken, friction developed between local students and some older couples as they fought for the last inches of space, balancing plates of tapas style flatbread or glasses of chardonnay. However, the urging of the band with the example of one young girl who decided to brave the winter weather and the dance floor in an Elsa dress, many peeled themselves away from their seats to join the dance.
“If all you can do is dance terribly, please dance terribly. We’re here to have a great time with you, and if you can come up to the dance floor and share your passion with us we would be so appreciative,” one member of Conjunto Philadelphia announced.
After assuaging the fears of visitors who hadn’t quite mastered their mambo, the band started their next piece, a Cha Cha Cha entitled Rico Vacilon. Compared to the earlier, brisker, trumpet led tune, Rico Vacilon seemed to be inserted as a warmup for those still nervous about stepping with the syncopated beat of a Cuban rhythm. A soft set of vocals with a tumbadora coaxed strangers and spouses to pair up and just move with the music.
While music and food dominated the main hall, it’s important to note the museum’s other wings remained open throughout the event. However, the experience in the galleries was far from unaffected by the festivities downstairs. The sounds of Rico Vacilon filtered down the corridors into the period rooms and halls of armory. For one who is more than an occasional visitor, the galleries took on a new dreamlike atmosphere growing more surreal as the distance from the main hall increased. The same vocals that made the colors of Sargent’s watercolors shimmer a little brighter on the first floor were warped and garbled in the European wing on the second. The hall of 19th century European painting suffered from a particularly strange set of acoustics. Differently pitched but equally corrupted versions of the same song leaked in from its two entrances converging into cacophony somewhere around Coypel’s “Abduction of Europa.”Overall the effect was more than a little forbidding and the backdrop to viewing the works of Bronzino or Munch was enough of an incentive for most to return to the music. But, in the end the gallery’s audio dissonance may have been for the best, as the events downstairs had progressed into a salsa and few were left in their seats.
For Swarthmore students who missed out on last week’s Friday Night at Museum feature, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is offering another chance to enjoy music, drinks, and food this week. There are no signs of the series ending anytime soon, and the PMA’s calendar is currently offering up a tasting menu of cultural events and music. With next week’s listing set as the appropriately Irish Donohue troupe, the event for the final Friday of this month is already rousing up chatter among students on campus as the Philadelphia Museum of Art nears its 100th anniversary celebration of Duchamp’s infamous submission of a urinal to the 1917 armory exhibition with a night of Dadaist scavenger hunts and DJs.
Hello friends, spring break is coming up. It’s so crazy to me how simultaneously fast and slow time passes here. Another few weeks, another spring break, another few weeks, another Worthstock, another finals period, another graduating class, and the cycle repeats itself (give or take a few bitterly cold months).
Excuse my half-hearted, semi-bitter sentimentality — spring break is EXCITING because it means the SUN is coming back. If you know me, you know that the return to constant sunshine is the pinnacle of my year. It’s time to treat yourself — believe me you deserve it. This is perhaps geared more towards those staying on campus, but there are some things in here you can indulge in from afar, or later on after you return.
COLOURPOP.com (or Colorpop, honestly don’t even start) – For all you lipstick lovers, colourpop is discontinuing some of their products and so they are selling at reduced prices right now for $4. Just go (but also hurry because they’re selling out.)
On 212 Arch street in the Old City, there is a little pink stand alone bakery called Tartes. It’s cute, ~aesthetically pleasing for the ‘gram~, and has the best key lime pie I have ever tasted. Honestly treat yourself to this one, it’s a good find.
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO – Please please please take yourself, take your family, take your friends, your partners and go watch this. It is so incredibly VITAL whether you’re familiar with James Baldwin or a generally decent person. There is no shortage of conversations to be had on the subjects that plague our society.
The Faimount Park Horticultural Center – I could spend all day in here. Humble, open space, calming greenery, all the dappled sunlight and none of the cold. There are benches for you to sit on, and you can read, take pictures, or walk around. I find it very soul-soothing. I’ve also decided I could/probably should, live in a greenhouse.
Take a day trip to Baltimore! A $15 bus will get you there. I love this city, it reminds me of Atlanta in so many ways. For those of you who don’t know me, my dad is half American and from there, so I visit often. Go to Maryland Institute of the Arts (MICA) campus and walk around. The art and architecture, bookstores, and the abandoned railway station are beautiful. There is also a place I discovered called R House. It’s an “industrial-chic” food court in an old warehouse and is run by 10 chefs who are looking to start restaurants. The space is for them to try their hand at it and, honestly, it’s so incredible. There’s Korean food, Arepas, Poke, smoothies, vegetarian and vegan options and desserts. I’m still dreaming about it.
Back to Philly now: Menagerie Coffee — is a hip little place on 18 S 3rd St, also in the Old City. The tea is good; the vibes are better. The front of the shop has communal tables against a red brick wall, which are ideal for doing work. The last time I was in there, they were playing Solange’s album and it was warm and quiet. Get off campus, even if you feel drowned in work. You definitely don’t have to stay on campus to get it done.
Take a trip to the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philly. I haven’t personally been here yet but it’s the top of my list, and I’ve been dying to go. Admissions is by donation and there are tours every 45 minutes (I believe). The gift store also has beautiful prints, many of which decorate my walls.
So friends, that is all I have for you today before we head into our well-deserved spring break. I hope your weekend is restful and next week passes fast. Happy spring (and maybe a passive aggressive reminder that global warming is not a myth).
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, our City of (Brotherly) Love really should not disappoint. Whether you’re looking for a cozy date night or a fun meal out with a few friends, there are plenty of activities, attractions, and eateries all around Philadelphia. This year’s Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday with celebrations and specials happening on both the surrounding weekends. I decided to put together a list of potentially romantic (?) places to go that will enable you to enjoy what Philly has to offer this weekend.
Taking off from Penn’s Landing, Spirit cruises offer a two-hour cruise on the Delaware river, inclusive of a freshly prepared lunch buffet along with complimentary coffee, tea, iced tea, and water. On the cruise, you will be able to experience an incredible view of the Philadelphia skyline along with landmarks including the Naval Shipyard, Ben Franklin Bridge, Battleship New Jersey, the historic Olympia warship, and more. There is on board entertainment including a DJ that takes requests. They have both lunch and dinner cruises that vary in price, beginning at $33.
Race Street Pier
Situated right under the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the pier has the most incredible view of the Delaware river, and can be ideal for a picnic depending on the weather. Race Street Pier often hosts events throughout the year, so be sure to check for updates. Events include live music, classes, fireworks, and more.
One Liberty / City Hall Observation Deck
Head to either one of these observation decks for breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. One Liberty Observation Deck is on the 57th floor of Liberty Place with landscape views for miles. The deck also offers information on the history of Philadelphia and its evolution into a cosmopolitan American city. City Hall Observation Deck is known for its incredible view of the city, and stops right underneath the colossal statue of William Penn.
The Italian Market
Stroll through Philadelphia’s iconic Italian Market, and sample their amazing spread of charcuterie — fresh meats, cheeses, and other gourmet treats. There is a two-hour tour that includes meeting the local store owners, learning the history of the place, and stopping along the way for more samples. Purchase dinner items at DiBruno Bros for either a picnic or a cozy dinner at home.
Riverside Ice Skating
Located on Penn’s Landing, enjoy Winterfest at Blue Cross RiverRink. The atmosphere at Penn’s Landing is incredible with little places to eat right by the water. After ice skating, the lights and cozy places to sit will make it the ideal Valentine’s date place.
Classic Love / Amor Statue
As cliché as it sounds, the classic visit to the Philadelphia Love Statue is a foolproof idea. There are two located around Philly, the ‘Love’ statue and the ‘Amor’ statue, whichever is your preference.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a must-see for everyone, and if you have not visited yet, then this time of year is ideal. Get lost in the gallery during the day, or go on a Friday for their weekly event called “Art after 5” that turns a part of the museum into a cabaret, featuring different visiting artists from all over the nation. The events are usually free after admission, and there is an option to make a reservation to order tapas and drinks. Although a little after Valentine’s Day, Feb. 24 has some incredible artists and performances including a Silent Disco and a performance called “Love Hurts” by Revolution Shakespeare.
Mural Arts Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program tends to be very underrated. The murals are absolutely incredible with over 3600 pieces that have been developed over the past 30 years. There is a “Love Letter tour” that is incredibly popular and takes you on a train ride past a sequence of 50 love letters created by the artist Stephen Powers. Furthermore, on Feb. 11, they are hosting an event called SExSE Valentine’s Day Pop-Up, which is a Southeastern Valentine’s Day sale where visitors can purchase textiles, weaving, and all sorts of gifts from community members.
We’re tempted not to write about “fun things to do in Philly;” it almost seems trivial. But fun is something we all undoubtedly deserve in these times. The other night, as we were surrounded by an illuminated crowd of different races and ethnicities, jumping together and shouting the words to Kendrick Lamar’s “We Gon’ Be Alright,” we felt strange stirrings in our souls — unsure if it was recognition, or realization, or resignation; maybe all three. We were at the Foundry at the Fillmore Philadelphia, a venue Philly Beat has covered before (if you haven’t read that piece check it out, it’s pretty nice), being enchanted by rapper D.R.A.M’s wide-ass smile and his ability to make dirty things sound cute and innocent. Philadelphia was a getaway. For many other Swat people, the Women’s March on Philly (or even Washington) was their weekend getaway, joined by thousands of others who came together for collective empowerment and resistance, from all walks of life. And so the question is, what now? See all of you nice white ladies at the next Black Lives Matter march, right?
In all seriousness, many people in our community have been asking for ways to further involve themselves in meaningful, progressive ways. The good news is that in upcoming weeks, there is no shortage of organizing. For many people, political activism and advocacy have been integral parts of their work and Philly-experiences since long before the march(es). We’re almost 97% sure that if you are reading this you are far more politically versed than us, but here’s what Philly Beat has for you this week in terms of how to keep up the post-march momentum:
As simple as it sounds, social media is a great place to look for events (see Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, your usual go-to’s). Activism-oriented students and campus organizations will often post in the official and unofficial class pages, but if you check your “Events Near Swarthmore, PA” tab, you may be able to find other free to low-cost planning meetings, protests, and workshops open to the public.
The Lang Center for Social and Civic Responsibility is providing transportation funding for students to attend political events via SEPTA. Here’s a recent message from Executive Director Ben Berger: “We will support students without respect to political affiliation or partisanship. We are here to help you learn and engage with the world.”
What this means is that two main obstacles to involvement —knowledge of events and accessibility to those events — are made a bit less obstacle-y. The hosts of such meetups are a wide range of stakeholders in the Philadelphia community, such as arts and cultural centers, religious organizations, and immigrant advocacy centers, just to name a few. For example, yesterday the Arch Street United Methodist Church held a public discussion entitled “Let’s End Gerrymandering.” Later today, Jewish Voice for Peace and the People United USA are co-hosting a rally to surround the Loews Hotel — the site of the Joint Republican Retreat that is happening right at this moment. This week, from Jan. 23 to Jan. 28, is the Philly Educator’s Black Lives Matter Week of Action, sponsored by the The Caucus of Working Educators Racial Justice Committee. To make your involvement easier, they’ve scheduled a calendar of free events throughout the city.
So we proceed. Tonight there is a film screening of “The 13th” and community talkback entitled “the effects of mass incarceration on Black and Brown communities” (4301 Wayne Ave). Tomorrow there is a panel discussion called “Demystify Black Women and Black Girls: Misogyny, Stigma, and Power” (Univeristy of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education). On Saturday, Temple University is hosting a LGBTQ Youth Conversation about “Pariah” and “Moonlight.” The list goes on and on — and so do the chances for continued education, listening, and collective brainstorming.
Ready to get your hands dirty, and looking specifically for opportunities to strategize? Repair the World: Philadelphia is hosting a workshop this Saturday afternoon by the name of “Escalating Political Resistance: Tactics for Racial Justice,” featuring representatives from the Philly Coalition For REAL Justice, Black and Brown Workers Collective, and the Philly War Tax Resistance. Afterwards head over to Chinatown and give Asian Arts Initiative a visit. We’re all encouraged to join the Philly Catalyst Project, New Sanctuary Movement, Reconstruction Inc., VietLead, and PA Working Families Party at a discussion on “Anti-Racist Strategies to Out-Organize Trump.” Whether or not you currently consider yourself a part of the city’s action community, the doors to these events are open to you — and we promise, easily findable via your Facebook search bar.
Yes, there’s a lot of work to do, a lot of causes to stand by, a lot of emotions to process. But for that very reason, we believe that now is the time to get involved, especially if you have the emotional capacity, energy, and positionality to do so. It starts with listening, and for those who want to know to get started; we have one parting quote from Muslim-American activist Linda Sarsour’s speech from last weekend’s March on Washington:
“If you want to know if you are going the right way, follow women of color, sisters and brothers. We know where we need to go, and we know where justice is. Because when we fight for justice, we fight for it for all people — for all our communities ”
See you all in the City of Brotherly [and Sisterly] Love soon.