Juneteenth – Change has to start SOMEWHERE.

Last Friday morning I came into the pharmacy, and mentioned that I wanted to post about Juneteenth. I had been thinking how we, as Americans, need to assign value to holidays that are worthy and deserving of said value. I made a comment to my staff about how ridiculous it is that we honor something/someone like Columbus Day, and not Juneteenth.

I had a friend in college who wore a tee shirt that summed up my thoughts on the infamous navigator: Columbus Day – A Celebration of Genocide. Celebrating the end of slavery certainly feels more wholesome!

I thought back to a favorite passage written by the brilliant Kurt Vonnegut, in one of my favorite books ever, Breakfast of Champions [1]:

Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.
So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.”

-Kurt Vonnegut

“So I will throw Columbus Day over my shoulder. Juneteenth I will keep.”


I came home from the Rx, ruminating on how to make Juneteenth sacred. After ‘showering off the Covid’, I set up my laptop at the kitchen table to start writing. Wiley, my 8 year old son, asked me what I was working on.

I briefly explained Juneteenth to him, and he quickly responded, “Oh, so it’s the day Abraham Lincoln announced slavery was over…The Eman..saah…” Proud he’d gotten that far, I threw him a lifeline, and finished his sentence, “Emancipation Proclamation is what you’re thinking of bud, but that’s a different day…”

Unsure of the answer to his follow up question, before he even asked it, I stopped, and realized I’d need to do more homework for the post. I circled back to Wiley, and answered the still unasked question, “I’m not sure what the exact differences between Juneteenth and the Emancipation Proclamation are…” but I was intent on finding out soon.

History of Juneteenth

I quickly confirmed Juneteenth occurred in 1865, when a group Texas slaves learned they were finally, truly free from the horrible institution of slavery. However, oddly enough this event did not happen within days, or even weeks of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth occurred nearly 2 and 1/2 YEARS after Abe’s great speech!! What?? My mind was blown.

How was this not in any of my history classes? I first felt embarrassed, then shamefully stupid, and finally arrived at angry. Angry that the people in my hometown who argue that taking down Confederate statues is a futile attempt at “changing history.” Angry they were the same ones who left out this tidbit.

As I continued to read, I was equally relieved and alarmed, to conclude my rural hometown school system was not a hayseed outlier. Quite the opposite, it was more like the American educational norm! To put it bluntly, Juneteenth as a historical moment, was essentially erased from American classrooms[2][3].

In “From Juneteenth to the Tulsa massacre: What isn’t taught in classrooms has a profound impact”[2], Danielle Silva gives several specific examples of American schools ‘whitewashing’ the horrors of slavery:

  • “A Connecticut fourth grade social studies textbook falsely claimed that slaves were treated just like “family.”
  • “In Alabama, up until the 1970s, fourth graders learned ….that slave life on a plantation was “one of the happiest ways of life.”
  • “In contrast, historians and educators point out, many children in the U.S. education system are not taught about major Black historical events, such as the Tulsa Race Massacre or Juneteenth, the June 19 commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.”

Tulsa Race Massacre

American’s first exposure to events like the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the most severe incidents of racial violence in U.S. history, should not come courtesy of a television superhero drama! Nonetheless, if you haven’t seen it, as the HBO series “Watchmen” opens, they do an amazing job depicting this murderous event, often referred to as The Massacre of Black Wall Street. While the show is fictitious, that harrowing scene is based entirely on real history, even the dialogue is based on primary accounts of the events.[4]

There are certainly many factors contributing to the country’s current state of ‘unrest.’ Properly correcting and teaching historical Black events to people, who are often unknowingly unaware (I was one of them), is a logical first step. Julian Hayter, a professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia explains[2]:

It has been very difficult to convince people that other versions of history are not only worth telling. They’re absolutely essential for us as a country to move closer to something that might reflect reconciliation but even more importantly, the truth.

White America cannot continue to erase history that doesn’t fit with its desired progressive narrative. To maintain this fake ‘progressiveness’ requires the deletion of these stories of violence against Black people. What has happened over my lifetime, while maybe not as extreme as the Tulsa case, is still ‘whitewashing’. Whether it’s Michael Brown, Eric Garner, or countless others, nothing is changing in their communities.

Historical ties to Black Lives Matter

Silva goes on to quote LaGarrett King, a professor at the University of Missouri, who emphasized that these movements are not new. King says[2]:

Black people have been saying this for the past 400 years, this is not a new movement,…Part of the problem is that society has never listened to that history.

King’s next statement, I found beyond compelling. He ties these education issues to the creation of the BLM movement:

In many ways we wouldn’t have a Black Lives Matter movement if Black lives mattered in the classroom

I’ve always detested the person quick to point fingers and complain loudly, but then goes silent when asked for solutions. For example, the offering of ‘thoughts and prayers’ after mass school shootings, did nothing but nauseate me. Pray away if you please, but stand up for new gun legislation!

What Can White People Do?

These people have the right idea!

As a white person in America, I feel compelled to remind other white people to speak up for real CHANGE, not offer the apologetic equivalent of ‘thoughts and prayers.’

Question: I’m white, and not racist, but don’t know what to do.
Answer: DO SOMETHING! Here are some suggestions:

  • Tell your kid’s school board, their teachers, and your teacher friends, we demand Black history be told truthfully.
  • Write about these topics on social media! Read the 3 wonderful articles I reference below in their entirety. Their perspectives prompted me to rewrite almost my entire post…because I saw a path to change that made sense.
  • By delaying the post over the weekend, I got to see this new story from NBC NEWS: “Senators propose bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday” -> SUPPORT THAT BILL!
  • Peaceful protests are a constitutional right. JOIN A LOCAL PROTEST! Stand with everyone who is rightfully outraged.

I’ll follow Daniella Silva’s lead, and close with some hopeful thoughts from Jesse Hagopian[2]:

When students learn that it was young people who were the leaders of the civil rights movement, they can then see themselves as potential actors to transform the world today.

Never Again

I have 3 small children, and like most sentient beings, have really struggled to watch the endless news stories of school shootings. It literally reduced me to tears to type these words. I can’t imagine Parkland parent’s anguish watching fools defend AR15’s, while they bury their babies.

This is an American problem. Other countries have ended this senseless violence by changing gun laws. Other amendments have been amended. The second amendment is not infallible.

Today, we are ‘walking out’ of the pharmacy to stand united with the more than 2800 schools doing the same.

In my almost 40 years on Earth, I have never been more proud of America’s youth. My family and staff stand with all of them, as we too, ‘call BS!’

#CrayonsInFishtown — November 1st – 7th!


At risk of stating the obvious, Fishtown continues to get more AWESOME. It’s pretty cool seeing so many different local, and national, news outlets constantly saying how great it is to be in Fishtown. I totally agree with them! On the pharmacy’s block alone, several super cool businesses have opened in the last few years. I-Fixit, Franklin and Poe, and Ham and Bone!

Last year we donned our first ‘pharmacy costume’, which if you weren’t there, mirrored one of my family’s favorite books, The Lorax. This year the costume is based on two wonderful modern children’s stories: The Day The Crayons Quit, and the equally great sequel, The Day The Crayons Came Home. Oliver Jeffers and Drew Daywalt wrote the stories in 2013 and 2016, so unless you have a 2-10 year old, they likely aren’t in your library. Rest assured, they’re ‘top shelf’.

A few months back, my son Wiley suggested the Crayon books be this year’s costume, and subsequently my wife thought of branching the costume concept out into a local biz scavenger hunt. Both brilliant ideas IMO. So we did! My family and I spent a LOT of ‘quality time’ together making a bunch of ‘life size’ crayon characters from the books over the last couple weeks. Truffula tree pool noodles were recycled in this process! #LoraxApproved.

#CrayonsInFishtown invites everyone to bring their kids into Fishtown Pharmacy, and take a pic with our super-duper crayons. At that point, you will be eligible to pick up a scroll guiding your next steps. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will then be to decipher the secret scroll containing the exact coordinates of 9 other local businesses where the remaining crayons can be found. As always, should you or any of your Crayon Force be caught, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

Each participating business has been given a set of regular sized crayons to reward scavenger hunters. All hunters who capture 8 or more crayons, will be given their choice of either book.The scavenger hunt will run from 11-1-17 to 11-7-17.

Your mission also has a noble cause!

  • For every picture taken (and allowed to be posted on our social media) in the pharmacy with the crayons, I’ll donate $10 to By My Side Parenting.
  • If you post a pic of your kiddos with the crayons in any of the participating businesses with #CrayonsInFishtown, I’ll add another $1 for EVERY post. If any new family transfers prescriptions into the pharmacy, we’ll raise our donation to $50 for each new family.
  • If you aren’t familiar with By My Side Parenting, they’re amazing. If you need confirmation beyond me saying so, either ask someone with children in Fishtown, or visit their website.  

Happy Halloween,

*Remember to post your pictures with the #CrayonsInFishtown

Crayons can be found at the following locations:
1. Fishtown Pharmacy – 1802 Frankford Ave:
Esteban (The Crayon Formerly Known As Pea Green), Neon Red, Peach, and Turquoise Crayon

2. Little Baby’s Ice Cream – 2311 Frankford Ave:
Rainbow Crayon

3. Minnow Lane – 2029 Frankford Ave:
Green Crayon

4. Made and Maker – 2021 Frankford Ave:
Purple Crayon

5. Franklin and Poe – 1817 Frankford Ave:
Pink Crayon

6. Ham and Bone – 1824 Frankford Ave:
Brown Crayon

7. I-Fixit – 1800 Frankford Ave:
Gray Crayon

8. Cheu Noodle – 1416 Frankford Ave:
Beige Crayon

9. Play Arts – 1241 N Front St:
Glow In The Dark Crayon

10. Denteek – 212 Brown St: BONUS STOP
White Crayon
*Yes I know Denteek isn’t in Fishtown, but the dentist and owner is an old friend, and I believe he has opened the premier ‘green’ dentistry in Philadelphia. Its worth the trip to Northern Libs!

Happy 4th Birthday!

Peace out toddler life! In a year that provided countless hurdles in my personal life, the pharmacy staff and patients have genuinely helped me persevere in more ways than I can count
or describe.

I tried to pinpoint what has allowed me to find increasingly more gratification at work with each successive year, despite the aforementioned recent personal obstacles. I kept coming back to one thing, the allowance the pharmacy provides me to truly ‘be myself’. For the first time in my life, on any given day, I can honestly say, “I’m equally happy going into work or taking the day off.” That sentence, when said aloud within almost any social circle over last few months, has consistently garnered remarkable reactions. At minimum, it’s received with a brow raise or an eye roll, signaling some level of disbelief. Those reactions are obvious reminders of how rare it is to feel ambivalent towards work/non-work days.

I’m not particularly existential, but do think on some level I’ve found the perfect life balance… something like my Yin-Yang. I envision my inner Mr. Miyagi, commending me, for having my, ‘fly in the chopsticks’ moment. This realization, that at both home and work, I can be completely myself, present and happy in every capacity.

I share this not to boast or brag, but to say THANK YOU to all whom have enabled it! Thank you to my staff for being hilarious, creative, weird, kind, open minded, and endlessly willing to offer real thoughtful criticism and feedback, both positive and negative. Thank you to a community that welcomes creative independent thinkers over cookie-cutter conformity.

My friend/co-worker Scott, said something months ago that I believe could serve as a mission statement for the pharmacy. We were in the middle of RxLorax, a unique fundraising event we concocted to benefit By My Side Parenting. At that time, the pharmacy looked far closer to the whimsical land of Truffula Trees, than it resembled any CVS or Rite Aid.

Scott said, “We spend huge amounts of our day on autopilot. When something out of the ordinary happens, those unexpected events, add splashes of color to otherwise grey, forgettable  days. If we can give our patients those moments of splash, even if they are unconventional or kinda weird, then I think we are doing something pretty awesome for our patients and ourselves.” Amen to that.

Those words have resonated with me ever since. Sometimes there are unique risk-reward considerations inherent in creating certain types of “splashes”. It’s similar to the risk people take every time they “express themselves”. To some degree, if you wear your personality and beliefs on your sleeve, you invite others to judge and criticize them. For example, I wouldn’t have had the cojones to spray paint SOLIDARITY on my lift the first few years after I opened, but I do now.

The confidence and comfort to be entirely transparent, to be ‘The Real Me’, to no longer separate any facet of Work Kris and Home Kris is the true center of my ‘Yin-Yang happiness’ realization. Certainly there are plenty of benign “splashes” that can brighten people’s day, but often the more off-center, kooky, and provocative “splashes” are the ones I like best. Surprising at the time, not so much in hindsight, the ‘more colorful splashes’ proved to be the most well received. Whether it came in the form of a Mannequin Video, April Fool’s Fish and Pharm, or a political meme…there was a consistent and obvious positive correlation in response. The ideas that we felt best represented us, were the same ideas our patients and community responded to most significantly. #WinWin

I’ve never been a big resolution maker personally, but in recent years have made a number of resolutions for myself in the pharmacy. As we celebrate turning FOUR and forever more, I resolve to open myself up (even more), to encourage my staff to do the same (when they feel moved to do so), to welcome discourse with our neighbors, and to ultimately connect to our patients and community on new levels. Let’s dig a little deeper!

To kick off the resolution, I tried something a little different this year, and made a video celebrating our 4 year anniversary in the most absurd way I could think of….

**Parental Advisory. Mildly Explicit Content**
Our 4th Birthday Video


Rx Lorax

I’ve always loved Halloween a little more than most folks, and am excited to start what I intend on being be an annual tradition at the pharmacy. In the spirit of Halloween, the pharmacy will “dress up” as a classic children’s book as its costume.

What does that mean? We’ve converted the pharmacy into a book-themed play stop where kids can take a picture in our makeshift ‘photo booth.’ The Lorax is one of those amazing books that transcends time and remains endlessly relevant. The book feels just as impactful to read to my kids today, as it was to have read to me when I was their age.

Rx Lorax will kick off this Saturday, October 22nd and run through Saturday, November 5th.

But we’re more than just a pretty…costume. I will donate $5 for every kid’s picture taken in the Lorax photo booth to By My Side Parenting. I’ll double the donation to $10, if the picture is posted on your Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram with Fishtown Pharmacy tagged along with the hashtag #RxLorax. If a family transfers a prescription in from another pharmacy, I will donate an additional $20 (this transfer donation will be limited to one per household).

100% of the funds raised in this campaign will be donated to By My Side Parenting. By My Side Parenting is a grassroots, nonprofit parenting program that provides support for children and families in Fishtown and Kensington. As a neighborhood pharmacy, we want our events and promos to tie into and benefit our community as much as possible. If you want to learn more about By My Side Parenting, please check out their website at http://bymysideparenting.org/.

I hope Rx Lorax will provide a unique opportunity for me to interact with the community, and introduce myself, the staff, and the pharmacy to all of you.


Facebook: Fishtown Pharmacy

Twitter: @fishtownpharma

Instagram: @fishtownpharmacy

Happy 3rd Birthday Fishtown Pharmacy!

We are turning 3, and like any proud parent, this Saturday we will be throwing a birthday bash.

The anniversary always serves as a good time to reflect on the pharmacy’s ‘state of the union.’ If you’re a recent convert, here’s a quick recap:

Year 1:  Lots of hard work pays off and it looks like we can make it!

Year 2:  Figured out how to begin ‘growing roots’ in the neighborhood, and translate our personality via social media. In hindsight, both those year’s successes came at the expense of time and relationship building with my family.

Year 3:  Here we are. A lot has happened. This year, I’m most proud of growing into a better dad/human/husband, and devoting far more time to my family. That only became possible by growing into a less controlling boss, and embracing my insanely creative staff. Theresa
concocted NoKidHappy, and it went viral. Scott came up with ClubRx, and it was one of the most fun days of the year. Brady joined our team/family, and assumed so many of my prior responsibilities, it has allowed me to focus on both personal and professional areas of growth.

I’m sure no one opens a business and says, “I’m going to put this venture before EVERYTHING, even my family”…but sometimes it happens. ‘Letting go’, even a little, wasn’t easy for me to do the first two years. I finally did it, and watched my staff flourish when given the opportunities to step up. Seeing my home and work families both thrive, is truly as good as it gets.

I’m more grateful than ever for my staff, my patients, and the Fishtown community. Thank you all. To celebrate, we will be doing a raffle giveaway this Saturday during the Trenton Ave Arts Festival. Anyone who comes by the pharmacy from 10 am-2 pm is welcome to free food, water, prizes, and a birthday cake cutting ceremony between 1 and 2 pm.

We’re also giving out raffle tickets to anyone who comes by on Saturday – pharmacy patient or not. Raffle winners will receive gift certificates to some of Fishtown’s favorite establishments!

#NoKidHappy New Year!


The final #NoKidHappy numbers are in, and I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the campaign and made it an unimaginable success.

We raised a total of $1080 for No Kid Hungry!

The last couple weeks perfectly exemplify so many of the reasons that make me feel so fortunate. Fortunate to have a hard working staff, creative enough to conceive and execute the idea. Fortunate to have a community that helped share the campaign and make it so successful. Fortunate to have patients, friends, and family all willing to support and ultimately make the idea a reality.

I bought a book for my son this Christmas called “What Do You Do With An Idea?”. The book’s ultimate answer is change the world. The collective positivity surrounding the last few weeks has been as exciting as anything we’ve accomplished since opening. l don’t know that the ‘idea’ changed the world, but its always nice to feel like ‘part of the solution’.

Special thanks to Steve and everyone at CBS for the news coverage:


Special thanks to Adjua and Be Well Philly for their piece:


I wish everyone all the best in the upcoming year!


Temper Tantrum or Raffle Giveaway?



Fishtown Pharmacy has officially turned 2 years old! As tempting as an ‘age appropriate’ scream-fest was to mark the occasion, a celebratory raffle giveaway seemed more fitting.


I don’t think I’ll ever take for granted how lucky I am to have the opportunity to wake up and want to go to work. For that, I’m infinitely grateful. While training a recently hired pharmacist, he commented on the vast array of multi-tasking and politely asked ”It seems like there’s a lot of responsibilities for you going on here…all things considered, was opening the pharmacy worth it?” I smiled and replied, ”If you’re looking to have someone talk you out of opening a business….I’m the wrong guy!”


The achievements of the past 2 years would not be possible without the help of a lot people. Thank you to my family for the never-ending support in both celebrating successes and overcoming failures. Thank you to our patients and everyone in the community for the all the support. Thank you to my staff for offering daily doses of smiles, positivity, and patience in an industry often lacking in all. Thank you Kristen for your brilliance and humor while helping me develop our social media into something I’m immensely proud of.


And how about that RAFFLE?!?! Here are the details:


One first prize winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to Loco Pez.

One second prize winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to Cedar Point.

Two third place winners will receive a $25 gift certificate to either Pizza Brain or Reanimator Coffee.


Anyone entering the pharmacy from April 27th to May 4th gets a raffle ticket. No purchase/illness/prescription required. Winners will be drawn at random on May 4th. Follow us on Twitter @fishtownpharma, Facebook, or Google+ where contest updates will be posted.

So I Really Gotta Suck the Snot Out

Tips for Relieving Your Congested Infant

That’s a real dialogue excerpt from my wife as we were knee deep in our first NoseFrida experience. I managed to bring home an awful flu-like bug a few days prior, and was generous enough to share it with the whole family. Our poor little Vaida, then 3 months of age, had her first taste of illness. There she laid, miserable next to us in bed, entirely incapable of sleeping. She was super cranky and making a snorting noise that evoked parental emotions beyond pity.

We’d tried baby aspirator bulbs intended to suck out the mucus from the baby’s nostrils. First issue is they mostly don’t work. Secondly, the device is nearly impossible to clean out. Battery powered aspirators may yield slightly better results, but largely freaked out our baby.

The solution we’ve found is a Swedish device called NoseFrida. We were given the NoseFrida by a thoughtful friend and fellow parent. My wife originally said ”Does she really expect us to use that?” Her apprehension was largely due to, as the title infers, essentially having to suck the snot out of your baby. NoseFrida was created by a doctor and consists of a nasal chamber connected to a filtered tube enabling parent’s to suck out the baby’s mucus.

While the process is off putting initially, the results will certainly convert even the harshest skeptic. The device easily removes LOTS of problematic mucus from the baby’s nostrils. ”Kris, Kris, LOOK! That was in our baby’s nose!” said my wifey with genuine amazement looking at the green goo she sucked out. Unlike the bulb aspirators, NoseFrida is very easy to clean. Finally, for the fellow germaphobes, fear not, clinical studies have proven the filter prevents mucus and bacterial transfer from child to user. Whew! Vaida isn’t the only one who can sleep easy…

Additionally, I’d suggest the application of Ayr Saline Nasal Gel after using the NoseFrida (Adult formula is safe for infants). I’ve found the gel to work far better, and be easier to apply than Saline drops. Apply the gel to a clean Q-Tip and shallowly insert the tip inside the baby’s nostril.
We sell the NoseFrida and Ayr in the pharmacy. As for seeing the product in action, you’ll have to purchase it or come by my house for a demo. I only offer snot-sucking services to blood relatives;)

Snot Image

And a link to the product’s website: http://www.fridababy.com/shop/nosefrida/


Goodbye, Old Friend


In the last couple weeks our family has gone through some monumental, and bittersweet changes. My wife Dru and I welcomed a new life into the world in the way of ourprecious newborn daughter, Vaida. Sadly, we also said goodbye to our beloved dog Nala. While still infinitely sad, having watched Nala beat cancer twice, it felt more similar to parting with your 97 year-old grandparent than an unexpected loss.

Knowing that time had arrived, I went about the dreadful process of figuring out how to most humanely and peacefully lay Nala to rest. I called several vets that offer at-home euthanasia services. Thankfully among them, was Dr. Brad at Lap of Love. He called me back quickly and seemed at once to understand and sympathize with my plight. He thoughtfully described the procedure to be undertaken, and agreed to come to our house two days later.

The dreaded day had arrived, and I walked to my neighborhood corner store to pick up steaks for Nala’s Last Supper (and one for my bud Zeus too, Nala’s brother). Watching her feet slide as she struggled even to stand to eat her treasured feast was gut wrenching, but conformational as well. It was painfully obvious. It was time. 

Dr. Brad arrived right on time later that day, and immediately confirmed my early intuition that he was the right person for the job. Before he had even gotten inside our gate, he was consoling the heartbroken couple on the other side. He greeted and pet both our dogs, who also were instantly comfortable around Dr. Brad. Within the first minutes of seeing Nala, Dr. Brad pinpointed several of her chronic conditions. He first noticed her failing vision, then astutely noted her small pupils despite her lacking vision. He accurately speculated a neurological issue was to blame. I had never mentioned the history of head tumors, so his rapid insights were beyond impressive. He assured us after examining her that we were making the right decision.

Dr. Brad, my wife Dru, and I headed into our wooded backyard and sat down on either side of Nala, petting her and holding her head. Dr. Brad again carefully described the steps that would follow and then asked us if we were certain we wanted to go ahead with it.  He administered an intramuscular injection that consisted of a cocktail of sedatives and painkillers. Nala barely moved as he delivered the injection and she immediately looked relieved following its administration. Her body relaxed as the pain washed away and she gave us one last precious memory. As her eyes closed, she smiled widely to Dru and I. A final tearful storybook ending. She was no longer in pain.

Dr. Brad gave us a sympathy card and made a clay paw print for us to keep in her memory. While these keepsakes were and are appreciated, its his genuine compassion that was incomparable.  Its so rare to encounter someone who has such prowess as a doctor and even more as a person. Thank you Dr. Brad.

Goodbye Nala. Thank you for everything. We will always love you and never forget you.

I can’t express my gratitude and recommendation for Dr. Brad highly enough! He is absolutely wonderful.  

If you find yourself in a similar, heart-wrenching situation, details on his services can be found at: