Philadelphia. The city where you’ll need bulletproof vests long before you’ll need those Delta variant masks, here’s something to consider: So Mayor Kenney won’t call this city’s ever-escalating murder rate into a state of emergency, and won’t really even discuss the matter beyond writing a snappy letter. Hm. What more important issue could he be bothering him as the city of Philadelphia is coming up, most assuredly, on 400 murders by 2021 summer’s end?
Broomsticks. Jim’s bringing back street sweeping – by hand and by mechanical means – in a policy that will expand and stay in place long after he’s gone (which cannot be too soon) at a cost of $62 million over five years. Which is nice. Honestly. This city is nothing but broken glass and greasy food wrappers. And blood. The new sweeping policy won’t save any of the neighborhood kids killed last weekend or quell the sort-of quick-to-escalate gun violence that found one guy dead at Pat’s Steaks. But your block will look better.
Sonny’s Cocktail Joint
The husband-wife duo behind Hawthornes Beer Cafe, Pivot Coffee and Soupery, Quicksip, Tio Flores, and the soon-to-open Grace & Proper – Chris Fetfatzes and Heather Annechiarico – have been working forever on the cocktail companion to Instagram-famous Wine Dive, and have finally hit the mark with Sonny’s Cocktail Joint. The comfy living room with a courtyard, lounge and patio also features food from one-time American Sardine Bar master Chef D. DeMarco, who says to “think tartare meets grilled cheese and hot dogs but with caviar” when it comes to Sonny’s. Sonny’s sounds as if it will be ready to roar, and lounge out, by the first weekend in August. Plus, Sonny’s and Grace & Proper are but two of the several large-scale new culinary klatches that Fetfatzes and Annechiarico have planned for the immediate future.
End of an era
It is the end of an era, for real, as a Philadelphia, a Front Street, a South Street AND an Irish tradition, the towering Downey’s Irish Pub, prepares to meet the wrecking ball soon. Yes, the place has been closed and empty for at least five years, but it will also be filled with blarney and bourbon in our hearts.
What do you get when you cross the metallic (Stinking Lizavetta) with the mirthful (EDO) and the downright thundering-ly harmolodic (Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time)? An all-Philadelphia, all-superstar player funk metal mélange, Wail and its self-titled, freshly released album of the same name. Guitarists Yanni Papadopoulos and Pete Wilder, bassist Alexi Papadopoulos and drum powerhouse G. Calvin Weston make the noise that drives this rhythmic engine.
New steak and pasta place
The Italian steak and pasta palace Wm. Mulherin’s Sons is opening a sister restaurant, Mulherin’s, at The Girard at 11th and Ludlow sooner than later. The wood-fired pizza parlor (and seriously, the pizza at the Fishtown Wm. Mulherin’s Sons (WMS) is outstanding, always burned to perfection) will reside nearby Iron Hill Brewery, will be designed by the same crew who designed WMS (Stokes Architecture) and is all part of making the Ludlow area, lud-high and mighty what with its expansion into boutique hotels and national chain food spaces.
Bigger, better music space
It’s been a long time coming, but, singer-songwriter turned venue entrepreneur Laura Mann is now ready to announce the new and improved and way more sizable (like eight times more sizable) Living Room music space: the new 300 – 400 capacity Living Room35 East which holds its grand opening on Sept. 4.
New Hope happenings
The bucolic Bucks County area, and most specifically, its toniest township, New Hope, has forever been a respite for the rich and the celebrated. Literati and theater types Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman made New Hope their home-away-from New York in the ‘30s and ‘40s, as an example. Novelist James A. Michener hails from the Hope. So do Dean and Gene Ween. Throughout the pandemic and since, word has had it that Meryl Streep, Tina Fey and Leonardo DiCaprio have either been through extended stays in New Hope, and-or have private digs in that sleepy burg. Model-actor Gigi Hadad has been though New Hope several times by my estimate, and just recently caught up with author-performer Candace Bushnell’s one-woman show, “Is There Still Sex in the City” at the Bucks County Playhouse before the end of its run. With all the talk of New Hope, one of the area’s regular habitues, Queer Eye food guy Antoni Porowski, was spotted in Rittenhouse Square right before last weekend. Word has it the honorary Philadelphian (from the Fab Five’s long filming time in town) was around for a friend’s wedding.
Cooking Channel host hits the town
For several days last week, handsome Cooking Channel + Food Network host and producer Robert Irvine, the man behind “Dinner: Impossible,” made several stops around town (McGillin’s Olde Ale House, Dekes BBQ) with camera crew in tow. Filming what? Dunno. Maybe he just likes having cats with cameras behind him.
Masked Philly: Jacquline “Jax” Cusack
In Icepack’s too-long and overly complex and continuing saga of asking mask-donning local celebrities what they’ve been up to, beyond the pale, during C-19 – from lockdown to the current reopening, present-day un-masking and re-masking, worrying about Delta variants, freaking out about Fauci’s call for a potential third round of vax shots and new mandates – I reached out this week to Jacquline Cusack.
Better known to friends and co-workers as “Jax,” the general manager of the still fresh, interactive sweet shop, Candytopia Philly at Philadelphia Fashion District, Cusack started COVID season, 2020, by “Marie Kondo”ing her home. “However, I ended up injuring my back moving furniture myself and had to have back surgery in the midst of everything going on,” said Cusack. “So, I then decided to get up to speed on something I do not know a lot about – movies and television. When someone asks me if I have watched “this series” or seen “that” movie, 90 percent of the time my answer is ‘no.’”
Along with binging “Game of Thrones,” “Lost,” the original “90210,” and all the Coen Brothers movies (“I finally saw ‘The Big Lebowski’”), Cusack caught up on Star Wars and all the Marvel superhero movies, while testing ways to clean and repair candy art for Candytopia. “We work daily to keep our exhibits show-ready and cleaning them presents a unique challenge. Plus, there were also supply issues, like many other industries, so finding replacement candies for various art pieces was an adventure. I’m getting close to Willy Wonka status with my candy knowledge.”
The mask is something that Cusack thinks serves a purpose, (“I would like to take them off, I never perfected the smize”) and with that, hers – an octopus – represents her spirit animal. “These intelligent and mysterious creatures mesmerize me; I could watch them for hours.” This octopus mask was given to Cusack as a Candytopia reopening gift, made by Amber ZImmerman from Lancaster, PA’s Etsy shop, Curious Amjam’s Shop (.etsy.com/shop/curiousamjams).
Along with reopening Candytopia and hosting flying unicorn pigs, marshmallow tsunamis and a giant fire-breathing candy dragon, Cusack is excited to just be seeing more people in Center City. “Every day, it seems a few more people are venturing out bringing some life and excitement back to the city. I’m also excited to be going to my first concert in August. I am actually traveling to my second favorite city after Philly, New Orleans, to see Better Than Ezra. I missed live music.”