On Friday night, on our way to Bibliococktails at the Rosenbach, my husband and I ran into some friends. They were headed to Parc for a drink to kick off the weekend. We told them we were going to the Rosenbach. “What is that?” our native Philadelphian friends asked. “A museum-y library place on 20th and Delancey that’s hosting an event on Sherlock Holmes.” Oh. *face you make when someone tells you they’re headed off to clean the public toilets at a rest stop – confused and uninterested* “With cocktails!” I added. Still unimpressed, they shrugged. “When you get bored there….come join us.”
Apathy and laziness is the attitude of so many 30 somethings looking for weekend amusement. ‘Apathy’ meaning let’s just go somewhere we know we don’t hate to get a drink. ‘Laziness’ meaning I worked all god damn week, I haven’t researched what to do this weekend, let’s just go somewhere I don’t hate to get a drink.
I 100% used to be that person (my husband’s endearing nickname for me was “my little asshole”). I watched garbage Bravo every single night after work and demanded near silence until 8 p.m. (fine, I still watch Bravo but far less).
Trust me. I get it. We’re all tired. But going out, doing things a little out of our comfort zone, this is living life. Philadelphia is a city with a treasure trove of fun stuff to do, we just need to open our eyes, step away from our Netflix n’ Chill, step far far away from the Sips nonsensery and explore. So follow me here at Culture POPs. Come with me as I re-ignite my asshole light for fun and adventure. Hold my socially awkward, sweaty hand and let’s go.
Cocktails + Murder at the Rosenbach – Event Recap
I am not a highfalutin fancy pants literati goddess. But I am someone who enjoys a cocktail, loves reading and doesn’t like sitting in dark bars. So this new series of monthly Bibliococktails at the Rosenbach was definitely something I was looking forward to. I was not disappointed. Luckily for all of us, this will be a monthly event (every second Friday) so you can go to the next one with me.
What are Bibliococktails?
They are still hashing it out but it sounds like the format will usually be: cocktail to match a book theme + book discussion (either from a Rosenbach staff or an author) + activity (in this case, playing a party game). The cost to members is $30 and $25 for non-members.
When we first arrived, we immediately felt like we were not cool-looking enough. There was a beautiful woman with big frizzy black hair with wild shocks of white running through it. There was a guy wearing a velvet blazer with lace sleeves, pirate-style. Meanwhile, 70% of our own outfits came from J. Crew. Nobody was responding to our strong eye contact game.
Alas, within five minutes, Ed Pettit, the Manager of Public Programs for the Rosenbach, came over to introduce himself to my husband and made us feel very welcome. Now, Pettit, is part of the literati. I met Pettit a couple weeks ago as were coming out of a Library Company event and we started to walk and chat as we headed to our respective homes. He mentioned that he commuted into the city every day for work now after years of being an adjunct professor and freelance writer. I thought he was getting ready to do the ole “complain about my work commute” shuffle when I looked up at his face and saw his broad smile peeking out from his long, white beard. He continued, “I finally have my dream job”. Needless to say, Pettit’s relentless enthusiasm for life and his work is contagious.
The Game is Afoot (and Smelling Books is a Thing)
Pettit kicked things off by giving a brief talk about the book of the evening, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Pettit told us Arthur Conan Doyle had actually killed off Holmes in a prior story but decided to bring him back to life by setting The Hound back in time before his untimely death. This had the added bonus of tripling his pay for the story.
Next, we moved onto the evening’s activity. Pettit invented a game somewhat like the children’s game “Mafia” where everyone is dealt a card with an identity and you’re supposed to find certain people. Well, this got everybody moving around and chatting. People were also more cocktailed at this point which always lubricates friendliness.
By the end of the whole thing, I had found some kindred spirits who also enjoyed smelling books. Prior to this evening, my husband had claimed this was a weird-ass activity only my brother and I did. But here I was standing at a table discussing the various smells of the books in the room, trying to hold back a joyful tear. For reference, the smells we identified were: Fourth Grade Roald Dahl smell, Mildewy Stuck in a Basement smell, Brand New, Yet to Take Character smell. Sara Davis, Manager of Marketing & Communications for the Rosenbach, gave me a great book-smelling tip too. Really fancy Art Books smell fucking great (my language, not hers, Davis speaks the way I imagine Jane Austen would have, mellifluously and with intent). Usually, super fancy art books have to be printed in Italy and when they come back, they smell like baked bread. There is also a collection of Daniel Defoe books at the library which
Sara Davis, Manager of Marketing & Communications for the Rosenbach, gave me a great book-smelling tip too. Really fancy Art Books smell fucking great (my language, not hers, Davis speaks the way I imagine Jane Austen would have, mellifluously and with intent). Usually, super fancy art books have to be printed in Italy and when they come back, they smell like baked bread. There is also a collection of Daniel Defoe books at the library which smell like cedar.
All in all, the game was pretty fun, the cocktail was amazing, the people were delightfully weird and entertaining and I learned some stuff. I’ll be going again. The schedule for the next few bibliococktails is below.
- 10/13: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”. Note: This day, Friday the 13th, is also the day the Frankenstein/Dracula exhibition opens and with your Biblio ticket you can explore that too.
- 11/10: Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- 12/8: Drinking with Dickens
- 1/12: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Beyond these bibliococktails, the Rosenbach is introducing a huge amount of new programming in the fall. This won’t just be lectures and book talks but Bibliococktails and poetry/music parties (hosted by Philadelphia poet laureate Yolanda Wisher), eight reading courses that meet monthly and weekly, dramatic performances, trips to see local plays and their first annual Moby Dick reading celebration as they gear up for the Melville bicentennial in 2019. Pettit calls the upcoming slate of programs “an unlimited celebration of ideas and culture”. We can expect the full fall calendar at the end of August so stay tuned.
Clever Criminals & Daring Detectives – Put Your Own Sleuthing to the Test
The Rosenbach has an accessible, fun and interactive exhibit right now called “Clever Criminals & Daring Detectives” (although it is only available through September 1). There’s a lock box puzzle to solve to test your own sleuthing skills as well as the manuscript of The Adventure of the Empty House by Arthur Conan Doyle and much more. I enjoyed the Rosenbach’s “Clever Criminals” exhibit just a tiny bit more than the one at the Free Library (although I’d recommend going to both). The Rosenbach’s is just jam packed with cool info, hands-on activities and is visually interesting.
Pop culture enthusiast. Lover of all things Philly. Amateur Chef. Planner of fun date nights.