Draped in their finest linens and other complimentary fabrics, guests from all echelons of Philadelphia’s political ranks descended upon South Street on Saturday night for Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr.’s Fifth Annual White Linen Birthday Celebration.
Ostensibly a fundraiser, it was also a belated opportunity for Jones and his right-hand man – Chief of Staff Al Spivey – to celebrate their July birthdays with some of their closest associates from the local political set in flaxen finery.
For his part, Jones chose an imported white linen tunic from Africa and a baggy pair of linen pants from A Man’s Image on South Street.
“The combination of the Motherland and South Philly is truly important,” he said. “It’s fashion at its best.”
Beyond his pan-cultural ensemble of outerwear, Jones solved the age-old dilemma of sock choice by wearing a pair of white patent leather sandals with an open heel, sans stocking. Spivey – wearing a more traditional short-sleeved linen shirt – followed suit by opting for an upmarket pair of open-toed sandals with twin straps.
‘First and last time out of the district’
This year was something of a departure for the event –typically held within the confines of the Fourth Councilmanic District, this year’s destination was Ms. Tootsie’s Soul Food Restaurant on South Street.
For the first three years, the party was staged at Manayunk Brewery on Main Street. Last year, The Centennial Cafe at The Ohio House in Fairmount Park hosted Jones, Spivey, et al.
This year, Spivey said that there were competing bookings, resulting in the event being held downtown.
But Jones’ constituents need not fear – the 6th Annual White Linen Celebration will return to the Northwest, with one of the area’s more opulent homes playing host to the Fourth District’s finest.
Spivey was mum about the exact address, but he emphasized that this year’s event “is the first and last time out of the district.”
Empowering those with uncertain futures
Following a brief introduction by E. Steven Collins of FM 100.3 WRNB – who dropped a few hints about prospective mayoral candidates – Jones took the microphone to give shout-outs to his council colleagues in attendance and put the evening in perspective.
“It’s a party with a purpose,” said Jones, explaining that he was one of the delegates charged with re-electing President Barack Obama. Jones lamented the loss of various programs designed to assist the income-insecure.
“When you take 5,000 summer jobs away, when you take after-school programs away, when you take food stamps away, you wonder why some of the petty crimes become heinous home invasions,” he said.
Noting a cause and effect relationship, Jones said he was sick of “teddy-bear memorial funerals” and “grown, proud adults coming” into his office requesting assistance for homes with uncertain futures.
“These are the things that we party for to have the resources to fight against,” he said. “We want to give away everything that we can to empower our folks.”
Closing his speech, Jones told those in attendance to “Have fun tonight, because we’re going back to work on Monday.”