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These Are The People In Your Neighborhood: Conor Corcoran

September 8, 2012

Welcome to another installment of an every-so-often online feature, where we introduce members of our extended family and get their take on the important things. This edition features Philly star counsel/promoter/jazz apostle/agent of urban grace Conor Corcoran. Enjoy, check back for more of these in the future, and don’t forget – we’re all neighbors here at Hog Island Press.

Hog Island Press, Conor Corcoran

Who are you?
I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things.

What’s your favorite Philly sandwich?
The cheesesteak from Ishkabibble’s at 4th and South. The people watching’s tremendous, and it’s delicious. I don’t give a hoot what people say about Geno’s… it’s like moving to the suburbs, or being forced to watch football on a Sunday: Rage, rage against the dying of the light!

What’s your favorite thing to eat in Philly, non-sandwich?
Bistrot La Minette (which is truly one of the most delightful dining spaces in the entire city) used to serve this appetizer that consisted of five or six mussels plucked from their shells, strategically encasing a single poached egg, on top of a wee piece of brioche and smothered – absolutely smothered, laid on thicker than Teddy P in heat smothered – in a gravy, au poivre roux. If I had to choose between saving my mother’s life, or having one of those things, be sure to tell my Momma that I’m really gonna miss her.

Describe your perfect day in Philadelphia.
Let’s start with the Chuffle Shuffle Hustle, on an Indian Summer morning, past Boathouse Row and about Kelly Drive. Then, a certain someone will magically appear at Philadelphia International, and Jerry Blavat will chauffeur us to Carman’s Country Kitchen. Fergus Carey will serve us Bellinis, hand wrought from the tears of Catholic schoolchildren, and then we’ll stop by my parents’ house for tea. Time, at 13th and Sansom, will reserve the entire restaurant for us for dinner, where Wynton Marsalis will be opening for Ernest Stuart, because Ernest Stuart Don’t Start No Sh*t.

And shortly before bedtime, Jim Gardner will nonchalantly report that President Obama was re-elected in a landslide, and that no one was killed in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. That would be a perfect day in Philadelphia.

IYO, who was the most important or intriguing Philadelphia political figure of the modern era?
The Philadelphia Lawyer. You can swiftly shout Ed Rendell or Willard Rouse, Bart Blatstein or Vince Fumo, but they’re all tips of the iceberg. If you want to know what’s going on in town, and where the power players are, and how and when and why things are happening, talk to a connected barrister.

What’s your favorite Philly song/artist, past or current?
I’d love to tell you Billy Ward and the Dominoes, or the Dead Milkmen, or Jimmy Smith. But at the end of the day, I have to say that it’s Tommy Conwell, hands down. He’s been to the mountaintop, and he’s seen the Promised Land. He’ll see it again, too, if he tells me one more time that the 80s are coming back.

What’s your favorite fact or artist of Philadelphia’s criminally-overlooked Jazz legacy?
When Miles Davis would come to visit John Coltrane in Strawberry Mansion, Coltrane used to bring Miles and his golf clubs across the street to the driving range, which is still in operation there. Can you imagine such a thing? And according to Jimmy Heath, they all used to drink together in front of a favorite bartender named Freddie Tolbert, who was always begging for money when he wasn’t slinging gin. And that, ladies and gentleman, gave birth to the song “Freddie the Freeloader.” Right here in the 215.

What’s your favorite Hog Island Press design?
‘Yous’ is my favorite. They broke the mold, daddio.


Thanks Conor, and you look smashing in it, too. More about J. Conor Corcoran, Esq.: a true Philadelphia intellectual tour de force, Conor can often be found in close proximity to quality tenor saxophone and even better conversations. A friend to the cause and a cause to befriend, here at Hog Island Press we all agree that this man needs to write (way) more often. Some of Conor’s recent exploits on the keyboard can be found here. Thanks Conor!

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