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July 23, 2009

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Economy cannot ‘floor’ Souli Tile & Stone Shop

Ali helps customers design a room or an entire house and has eye-catching Roman mosaic reproductions (left) like the one seen here in his shop at 8113 Germantown Ave. (Photos by Len Lear). Ali sells tiles primarily for kitchens, bathrooms, foyers, walls, floors and tabletops.  This beautiful antique tile piece (right) is in a kitchen on Willow Grove Avenue in Chestnut Hill.

It’s no secret that many retail businesses have closed their doors in Chestnut Hill since the national economy sank to the bottom of the ocean late last summer. You’d think that a business which sells discretionary items like the 11-year-old Souli Tile & Stone Shop at 8113 Germantown Ave. would be on life-support by now, but owner Ali Souli has no intention of succumbing any time soon.



Michael Jackson not the only recent death worth mourning

Jeffery with Phoebe at Easter time this year. “It looks like I’m helping to hold her up,” explained Jeffery, “only because I am! She was getting pretty weak at that point, but could still walk the block alright!”

By all accounts it was quite spectacular, the Memorial Celebration for Michael Jackson, albeit in a subdued kind of way. Without recounting the cynical view, it should have been spectacular for perhaps the era’s most exciting entertainer. But when his death was announced on June 25, I was already grieving for someone much closer to me, someone whose impact on others’ lives was almost solely reserved for me. The parallels of their lives and deaths, however, struck me as both odd and ironic. I couldn’t feel sadness for Michael, only a curious sense of waiting.

Phoebe died while I was hugging her, on her bed at home, the early evening of June 22. I couldn’t help but sob while saying good-bye; we had been together — grown up together — for a good long time. Her death had been creeping toward her for about 18 months. I did listen to her about it, but missed a small part about the new medicine.

Did Michael have anyone to listen to him? Not the music; but him. One has the sense that his adoring entourage and paid professionals would do his bidding without challenge. Will we come to find that physicians only heard his demands? Or did any of them listen to him? Although we don’t yet know, it seems possible that Michael’s death was precipitated by an ingestion of disagreeable, prescribed pharmaceuticals. Phoebe’s death was ushered in the same way. We had just been to the doctor trying to find some relief for her aching joints and tendons. She wasn’t walking very far any more. Just a little relief. But when I gave her the first tablet at home, she put it down and pushed it away. I should have listened to her then.



‘Rock Tenor’ a flawed but superb musical experience

The Wilma Theater is hosting the world premiere of The Rock Tenor through August 23. Conceived by vocalist Rob Evan with the show’s director, Vincent Marini, The Rock Tenor brings together under one artistic roof a vast array of musical styles all rendered in a mild to moderate rock’n’roll style.



‘End’: Able to find heaven on earth, if not elsewhere

David Ingram is seen as Arthur Stein in Deborah Zoe Laufer’s End Days at People’s Light & Theatre Company. (Photo by Mark Garvin)

Arthur Stein is unemployed.

Sylvia Stein is a born-again Christian in love with Christ and confident that the rapture, the time when God comes for those who have repented and confessed their love for Jesus, is due almost any day now.

Rachel Stein is an 11th grade student who’s angry with everybody and dresses like a Goth.

Nelson Steinberg, Rachel’s classmate, dresses like Elvis and pines for Rachel.

Jesus appears to Sylvia. Stephen Hawking appears to Rachel.

Those are the characters in Deborah Zoe Laufer’s problematic but occasionally hilarious and sometimes moving End Days, which is playing through August 2 at People’s Light and Theatre in Malvern.

Ever since 9/11, when Arthur (the solid David Ingram) lost his business colleagues in the World Trade Center, he has been unable to work or even to function. He can’t sleep at night, can’t stay awake during the day and has minimal interaction with his family. It is Arthur’s deep depression that drives Sylvia (the admirable Susan McKey) to her evangelical attempt to save the world. It also drives Rachel (Claire Inie-Richards) to her rebellion.


After 21 years, ‘new’ BYOB Jake’s still rules

Jake’s is one of those few restaurants that, like Old Man River, just keeps rolling along, no matter how often the winds of culinary change blow in new trends from the Near East, the Middle East, the Far East and every other point on the compass.

Owner/chef Bruce Cooper, 54, a 1974 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, was previously catering and cooking for the doctors’ dining room at Lankenau Hospital before opening Jake’s on November 17, 1987, at 4365 Main St. (between Grape and Levering Streets). On that very day, then referred to as “Black Monday,” the Dow-Jones Average took its biggest one-day plunge in history up until then — 150 points, which certainly must have increased whiskey sales. (Jake’s, by the way, is the nickname of Bruce’s former wife, Helena.)



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