Friday, August 22, 2008

HBO's The Black List, Vol. 1 Screening at Philadelphia's Prince Theater Premiere's Monday 8/25

On August 25th HBO will air The Black List, Vol. 1, ostensibly the first in a series of documentary films featuring segments of interviews with noteworthy African Americans. The film (part of a larger project including a touring photography exhibition and a book of portraits and interviews), conceived of and executed by photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and critic Elvis Mitchell, highlights the stories of prominent figures like author Toni Morrison, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and reigning lord of squeaky-wheels Rev. Al Sharpton. Refreshingly, it also showcases some unexpected people like guitarist Slash, curator and museum director Thelma Golden and Philadelphia's own basketball player/coach Dawn Staley (Why oh why wasn't she at the screening?) Last week Philadelphia's own Prince Theater had a screening for the film. L-R writer, Elvis Mitchell and director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders pose on the Red Carpet for the photogs. Ought oh here comes trouble, and trouble is on the phone. A lot of times you might come across a celebrity going into or out of an event on the phone and they are just using it as an excuse not to pose; I use this method now when passing the eons of money asking folks around town, whether it's the kids who may or may not be part of the (pick one) Baseball/Football/Basketball/Cheerleading team, the homeless guy on the corner who wants my attention or the Greenpeace $12 hr guys who want me to save the planet.Rev. Al has a manpurse and he has someone else carry it. I was trying to snoop to see what he was pulling out, but the bag was such a mess. I wonder what his office looks like?

I thought the set-up on the carpet that the PR firm of GaileyMurray was great. Chris Murray directed the folks onto the carpet, posed them and then after they walked away ID them all for us. In Philly that's important as there are ofter folks that you really have no idea who they are, but when you send them to your photo agency, or write about them on a blog, it's important that they are ID'd properly, or the photo just can't be used, well on my blog I would use them!! Elvis Mitchell, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Rev. Al Sharpton and Payne Brown, whose day job is vice president of strategic initiatives at Comcast, shares executive producer credit with his Philly-based Freemind colleagues Chris McKee, and Michael Sloane, who shares producer credit with Mitchell and Greenfield-Sanders, is based in Blue Bell, and has been instrumental in the restoration of the Ambler moviehouse. I would have like to have gotten a shot of
of Philly Famous Paul Levy of the Center City District, a man who is responsible for the agency that cleans the sidewalks in the City, and has a hand at shaping and influencing the aesthetic of the City, and his wife someone who influences us on which films to see, Phila Inquirer film critic, Carrie Rickey, try and sneak past the Red Carpet as if my readers wouldn't want to get a gander at them. Actually in the last year that I have been doing this, I have never seen them together at a function.

Unlike the lovely Sharon Pinkenson, who's husband Joseph Weiss, was not by her side at the screening tonight. Sharon, who we saw a few weeks ago with a cast on, has recovered from her foot surgery, and is moving around just fine these days.The Rev on stage, say what you may, but this guy is smart. He was impressive in the 2004 debates. Everything else about him is a train wreck. I was trying to get the wording on the screen behind him, but realized that
I would have to shoot it straight without flash. I have an ISO of 2500 and all the professional camera's there's hardly any visible grain or blurr. Now I just have to get that white balanced
The Hargrove sisters are into fashion. L-R, Alexis is wearing Michael Kors and has her own fashion website, her sister Amanda is a doctor, has no idea what she is wearing, but looks fabulous in yellow, don't you think?
R-L Oluwatoyin Adegbite Moore, Bonnie Motley Bowser, and I kid you not Marilyn Monroe. Seems it was the nurse who tended to baby Marilyn that was the huge fan. Mom and Dad Monroe hadn't picked out a name yet, and the nurse said, Marilyn Monroe has a nice ring to it. Marilyn tells me she often gets the best tables when she calls for a reservation. Maybe they think she is the rumoured daughter given up for adoption?
Joe Brown of the Prince Theater poses with some of the subjects in the film. Joe has a wall of celebrity photos where they are posing with him.
Fox 29's Sheinelle Jones and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. I had a chance to talk to Greenfield-Sanders not about the movie but about his grandson. I had seen photos on my agencys site of the NY Screening and he had taken his grandson to the screening. Said it was the first time, the 3 year old was well behaved, and worked the red carpet like a pro taking looking at each photographer for 10 seconds before moving down the line. I told him that I wish 90% of my subjects had that clarity.
Justin Weintruab introduced me to John Westrum, heard about, maybe saw his photo, but never met. Seemed like a nice guy, but must be tough as nails to have the Trump like impressive CV he has. He's the CEO, Westrum Development Company. Loves building stuff that revitalizes has-been neighborhoods. Recent projects include Brewerytown Square, a $200 million, well-known North Philly rehab, things are still going well, mostly sold out; His excited about the construction going on with his adult living communities in the Northeast and West Goshen; Finally Casino's, he has a property that was once under consideration at 61st and Passyunk, maybe he knows something Rendell and Nutter are keeping to themselves.

Trivia: His first real estate deal, in Upper Dublin Township, sprang from a class project while he was still in college. It sold out before construction even started.
Al works the crowd inside the Prince.
Attendence was at a premium.
There was a Q&A afterwards, where Elvis called Timothy his big white chocolate brother. One of the things mentioned on stage was that the "Black List" was going on the internet. In conjunction with AOL Black Voices, they are going to start a project where everyday black folks can have a voice and tell their story. The target date, Feb09 Black History Month. So look for it. Sadly I didn't get to see the show, for some reason photographers didn't rate and I was told to wait in the lobby, I will tell you that several of my friends saw it that night, and they said it was powerful, moving and a great experience, and that was just the white peps. My African American friends can't wait to see Vol 2, which Elvis says is practically already written.
From the NY Post two weeks ago: Film critic and KCRW host and writer of The Black List Elvis Mitchell was stopped recently at the U.S.-Canada border between Detroit and Windsor and a search of his luggage found a box of contraband cigars and nearly $11,000 in cash. That's above the $10k threshold you are supposed to declare, so the feds want to keep the money. Mitchell tells today's Page Six: "I have a fear of banks, so I keep cash in my house and I grabbed the wrong box. I took it into the country and out. The cigars, well I should have smoked them before I left." Mitchell has filed papers to get the money back. "Apparently a black man with dreads can't carry that much cash, but I think there are a few worse things to be embarrassed about. I haven't cheated on my wife like some in the news," Mitchell said. (He likes his cigar, he smoked one on the red carpet too)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

SNOOP DOGG IS A DOG re: Scooby Snacks at G Lounge

Snoop Dogg commandeered the Mogul Room at Center City's G Lounge in the wee smalls hours a few weeks back, after his show at the Festival Pier. Here are a few of his "fans" cooling their heels waiting for an audience with the Dogg.

Sorry guys, Snoop did not want you sniffing around his tail and the guys were left outside the vault door as some of their wives & girlfriends left them in the dust for the Dogg. (I thought he said to his wife, last year, on their "reality show" that it was just an act he was a ladies man?)
Dogg's bodyguards escorted young women, three at a time, back to the rapper, who held court in a curtained-off section of the subterranean club.
I ready for my close-up Mr. Dogg
The air was thick with an herbal aroma as Dogg offered hugs and sips of Landy Cognac, for whom he is a spokesman.
NFL Network analyst/former Iggle Brian Baldinger was among guests
Others included Detroit Pistons' Rip Hamilton.And music/marketing exec Jessiah Styles (marking his 35th birthday with his wife, Beat 100.3 radio's Janita "Applebaum" Styles); Clothier to the Stars Baba Taiye Renfrow , of Distante (1510 Sansom), could also be found hanging late in the club's VIP area.

I have to say since meeting these three people are some of the most genuine, really nice folks around. You probably have seen Janita and Jessiah several times on my site, and it's because they really are making the scene, bringing it with style and sincerity. As for Baba, wow he is just a super nice, a great memory. Since I met him this first time at G Lounge I have run into him a few more times. He's always remembered my name, and for some of you you know how weak I am in that department, and always a contagious smile. So if you see any of these folks, give a nod, say hello, they're for real. And as for Snoop I just can't say that for him. He's a character, but I think he lives up to his reputation. Although I had been "credentialed" to shoot the Dogg, he refused to allow me into the pound for a photo. Thankfully there were no fire hydrants in the curtained off section, and
Snoop had to use the public restroom; one of the sympathetic bodyguards tipped me off as I had waited patiently for 90 minutes. Right after I took this shot, another bodyguard slapped my camera and said no pictures.
It was too late, I only needed one. It's great how the Inky tweaks the photo oh just a little more and it looks like a professional took it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Philadelphia Valanni Restaurant : Belgian Family Brewers Beer Pairings Dinner; Here's the Menu with Pixs & Thoughts

6PM on a Tuesday night Valanni's has a packed house, I think the folks of Philadelphia are looking for specialty events like this where the chef and the beer meister come to your table to talk to you about what you are about to eat and drink. The price $55, a bargain anyway you slice it. Update: at the end of the night I got the figures for the attendance. Two dinner seating's: 120 people, not including the bar area. Here we find Sarah Cooper Bobersky and Matthew Vlahos listening intently to Wetten Importer Bruce Wright (in mirror) discuss the various beers that will accompany the dinner they will be eating.

1st Course
Kasteel Triple
lobster, scallop, Striped Bass seviche
Ancho chili, avocado, fresh mango, cilantro
Sarah doesn't like seafood, although that is a big whopping piece of lobster she is about to gobble. She enjoyed the Kasteel Triple and said it went well with the citrus flavor of the dish; Matt thought this was the best pairing of the night, and also enjoyed the citrus's beer. I don't drink so I will just be commenting on the food. HughE: Hmmm yum seafood and cuban bread.

It's a family affair as Jack, Mike & Mark Ferguson took their friend Joe Russen's (green shirt) advice and came out for Beer night. They like beer, as if the pairings weren't enough they also had a few bottles on the table. They are Irish after all, and if it's one thing we Irishman like, it's our beer.2nd Course
Brigand Golden Ale
Salad Lyonnais
poached egg, Frisee, Belgian endive, lardons, crispy potatoes, red wine vinaigrette, olive oil
Sarah: Terrific alone, terrific together. An explosion of flavors in your mouth; Matt: I'd like it for breakfast [I wasn't sure if he met the salad or beer] HughE: I really enjoyed the salad, especially the added touch of the pouched egg.

Thom Cardwell and Mary Patel; One of the first events of this kind I attended was a Thom's Table event at Mantra. (I covered it for PCC) He did a terrific job and I do hope he brings Thom's Table back. He hosts the event at different restaurants and does pairings and lectures. Really terrific. Mary just got back from LA where she is hammering out details on her latest movie. She also had lunch with Elliott Gould, very exciting, the guy who has a child with Barbra Steisand. OK and he is an actor in his own right.3rd Course
Kasteel Rouge
Tamarined-Ginger Glazed Pork Ribs
rutabaga puree, white asparagus
Sarah: Beer too sweet, even with pairing. Ribs were out of this world, the meat just fell off the bone; Matt: Beer alone too sweet, with ribs much better. Interesting, really enjoyed the rutabaga puree. HughE: Hmmm ribs love them. I picked them up even though the meat was falling off, ribs are meant to be man handled.
Now these guys are experts in the field of food, but they were at the 2nd sitting and I didn't stay long enough to ask their opinions. Maybe they'll leave a comment if they read my blog. They all work at the World Cafe Live. Lisa Margraff, F&B Director, Jameson O'Donnell, Cafe Chef, Ryan Starr, Manager and Matthew W. Babbage, Executive Chef. Ryan Walker and Adrienne Roth. Ryan lives in the neighborhood and saw the menu outside and thought this would be a good night to try out the neighborhood restaurant. They were both excited about the menu, and really enjoyed the beers. Well Adrienne also thought the Kasteel Rouge was too sweet, but again the guys liked it.
A lot of Irish folk here at Valanni's tonight. The Casey Family, L-r Dan, Ray, Nell and Ali, and next to her Ford Haegele. Enjoyed everything, Ali didn't have any lobster in her first dish, I think Sarah got her Crusteacian
4th Course
St Louis Framboise
Bing cherry sorbet
Matt reacts to an explosion of Grand Marnier soaked cherries in his mouth, he didn't realize his fruit was pickled. (He'd like these for breakfast too, he said)

Donna and Lester Weinraub enjoy Lester's birthday gift from a friend who knows he appreciates a good beer. 5th Course
Gouden Carolus' Grand Cru of the Emperor
Grilled white mission
Figs, Rogue River Blue cheese, Grand Cru-port reduction

Sarah: Is full, isn't a fig fan, but when I tell her about the white chocolate hazelnut praline, suddenly gets her appetite back. Matt: Is a big Fig lover. HughE: Not so much, blue cheese with figs and chocolate, not the same as cheese in a canolli like I was imagining beforehand, but loves anything that has the word chocolate in it. M&S: Love the St Louis Framboise which was served with the last dish, but these two must be getting looped as they are two fisting their drinks by the last course. If you look you can see the next one waiting for them in the lower left hand corner.
Thanks to our hosts for the night Chef Evan Turney and Bruce Wright who put together the brilliant menu of Belgian beer and food pairings, Chris and the beautiful Jennifer, who was doing double duty because as you may know from my earlier postings, she hosts Kinky Quizzo every Tuesday night at Valanni at 11PM, 10:30PM in the fall. Valanni's next big event is the annual fashion show in October, and then a wine pairing dinner in December. 1229 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Tel: (215) 790-9494

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Valanni Restaurant Philadelphia: Belgian Family Brewers Beer Dinner TONIGHT 8/19 & last weeks event: Laura Burkhardt's Bday Party in the new room

Since it opened its doors in September of 2000, Valanni's has packed them in to eat their Mediterranian dishes. The writing was on the wall and when the oportunity came about, and the house next door came up for sale, George and Val Anni (get it Valanni) bought it and expanded their hot little restaurant into a much bigger space with alot to offer.

And what could be better than a fabulous beer dinner in August? Valanni is bringing in Bruce Wright, importer, former chef and Belgian Beer connoisseur for this event. Chef Evan Turney and Bruce Wright put together a brilliant menu of Belgian beer and food pairings, keeping in mind and taste the Valanni medi-latin cuisine. You don't want to miss this one!
Seatings at 6p and 8p, and it's $55/person. Reservations through Open Table or by calling Valanni direct, 215.790.9494 It was last Friday that we celebrated Miss Laura Burkhardt's 2nd Annual Big Bash Birthday on 08/08/08; Here is Laura greeting Carrie Nork and Dino Minilli (Valanni says: to the right is the backroom bar in the new addition)

Valanni's Party Room is where Keren Ini & James Zeleniak had Laura's surprise birthday party. Jesse Archer, who was in town to judge Mr Gay Philadelphia 2008, stopped by Laura's shindig, again this year, to celebrate and have a cocktail or two before he was off. Have you ever seen Carlotta without her trademark do? Well here she is in all her glory, and do tell she is as shy as ever. I asked her if he ever gets tired or bored doing her alter ego, but Michael Bryne (Carlotta Ttendent) tells me that she is his best friend, and a wild and crazy friend at that. Look for a few more adventures for Carlotta and Chumley coming soon, but things have never been the same since that dustup over Gay Bingo so many years ago, and Gay Bingo has never been the same since. Maybe someone could give Carlotta and Chumley another venue, another gig and unlike Lucy & Desi, Nicole & Tom or Sonny & Cher these two want to work together again soon and often and I want to see them crack up a new generation.
L-R James Zeleniak, Michael Bryne and Zelinda O'Hara (Valanni says: occupancy in the new party room 38 people for dinner, 50 people for cocktails)
Eddie & Jeff (Valanni says: comfortable white seats with crushed brown velvet-covered banquette along the wall) Banquettes line the walls in the rear of the dining room, candles burn on tables dining on entrées like roasted duck atop a sweet potato mash dotted with brandied cherries—is as varied as the decor of sophisticated black surfaces, hip exposed brick, comfortable bar stoolThe Where Magazine crew - Zelina O'Hara, Laura Burkhardt & Karen Gross; Karen Gross is accomplished singer and showmanship. She began writing songs at age 14. She has recorded a CD, Navigating, and has performed at several local music venues such as World Café Live, Grape Street Pub and John & Peter’s (New Hope) as well as at Lincoln Center in New York, the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg and Musikfest in Bethlehem. She has an upcoming gig at the Tin Angel and I will keep add it to the calendar when I get the dates. Check her out here:

Thom Cardwell, Laura Burkhardt and friends enjoyed some of Valanni's Tapas including

hummus, tirokafteri, babaganush, grilled pita


sundried tomato, fennel, olive ancho-spiced rub, crispy potatoes

chocolate-peanut mole, balsamic glaze

Wayne Edward's Wayne Glassman (that's a tongue twister), with Zelinda and David Wagman