The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is taking its time with Philly’s second casino license; I’m putting my money on Bart Blatstein despite the loathsome image of the old Inquirer newsroom wall-to-wall with craps tables. Meanwhile an entirely different set of bidders might soon get some news regarding the plans they pitched for one of Philly’s most historic and gawgeous properties. Three hotel development groups — the Starwood team with Philly’s Dranoff Properties, Fairmont Hotels with the local Logan Square Holdings, Kimpton Hotels together with Philly’s P&A Associates — want in at the elegant Family Court building at 18th and Vine streets. These hotelier-developers are just aching to remake the 72-year-old court (complete with its multitude of priceless WPA murals and stained-glass) into a luxury respite with street-level restaurants and shops. I love grand hotels, but I don’t think we need more of them downtown. Smallish boutique hotels? Bring ’em on. That said, the distant drums of rumor this week find the Kimpton corp — they already have a foothold in tony hoteling in Philly with Monaco in Old City and Palomar on Sansom Street — leading the pack in the race for the court. This could change, of course but for now, that’s the scuttlebutt and the butt’s scuttle looks healthy.
The legendarily and magnetically strange Darren Finizio — we haven’t witnessed his wonderful wildness or good hair in a minute — joins the David Fishkin-booked Righteous Variety Show #1 on Aug. 12 at Underground Arts. The West Philly Orchestra saxophonist had already brought in out-of-towners (Ronald Reagan), homeboys (accordionist Neon & Shy) and one of his own bands (Extreme Fishkin) for his perf-art-avant-muzic bash before welcoming Finizio, the man behind Hoppy the Frog, Muscle Factory and other marvelously mad acts.
Writer/director David Greenberg, who teaches screenwriting and film at Drexel and University of the Arts, will start filming Stomping Ground, at the end of August, with six actors (Ben Harter-Murphy, Nathan Logue, Nicholas Reeves, Joslyn Oberdorf, Francesca Gallucci and Michael Niederer — Niederer who went to high school with producer Dan Zubrzycki) shooting for just two days in one location. That’s going to be funky shoot. Expect Greenberg’s violent, coming-of-age flick to be a cross between Stand by Me and Mean Streets and come with the requisite Kickstarter campaign for cash ($12,000 sounds reasonable).
Philly’s hottest jazzy harmonicat Paul Jost and his Quartet play the Art Museum’s Friday happy-hour party on Aug. 9. Request his compositions for The Band (“Book Faded Brown”) and Carl Perkins (“Half the Time”).
Birds are gathering round getting ready at citypaper.net/criticalmass.