Living proof that Amazon is everywhere just exploded like a Bezos-retro rocket into my favorite place – the area where I grew up – Eastwick, or better still, swampy old Southwest Philadelphia, now that Jeff purchased the decades-long vacant, 140,000-plus square-foot warehouse and campus space of the old General Electric plant at 69th and Elmwood. The GE hot spot was once a hub of industrial, financial and social activity in ye olde Southwest, an area whose star credits include me, the first Talluto’s, me, Kenn Kweder, places like Trap Rock and Tinnicum in which to bury mob mistakes, Jamaladeen Tacuma, and me. Again.
It should be noted too that SEPTA actually tried to take that same GE landmass by force, by eminent domain for its new storage/maintenance space until someone in the courts reminded them of the whole burying them-up-to-the-ears in slate treatment for which Trap Rock was beloved. So fuck SEPTA two times – the second being the one where the bus-and-trolley show offered a little under $6 million, which quite frankly, is peanuts for that sizable space. I could have ponied up $6 million. (No word on what Amazon paid, but we do know that it will offer more jobs than SEPTA had at the ready). For 2021-2022, expect Amazon – with its four other locations in Philadelphia and its “last mile” delivery warehouses – to best Amy Guttmann’s U of P takeover of West Philly when it comes to mass and money.
PLUS, a note to my Southwest brethren: careful for the whiff of larvicide that Philly’s Health Department is spraying for so-called mosquitoes that are West Nile Virus-positive. I don’t think Kenney wants Southwest to have nice things, so he might be trying a buggy, sneak attack. Who knows?
Truly a trash app
Along with the city spending money to get your streets swept, the locally-based MilkCrate.Tech company and refuse blogger Terrill Haigler (“Ya Fav Trashman”) have joined forces for an app, Glitter, where you can spot and report a trash build-up in your area and pay someone to clean it. There’s a price ($140 a month for a Clean Block Subscription”), but, c’mon. I’m buying the first round.
Looks like Philly also just cancelled DaBaby for being a homophobic, misogynistic, and now unapologetic (he took down his lame, last chance Instagram apology) jerkoff. The Aug. 13 show at The Mann Center, the Can’t Wait Live: A Concert for Jobs, Climate and Care pulled original headliner, DaBaby. In his place – Ne-Yo, for a show set to feature Saweetie, Wyclef Jean, Mavis Staples, Beach Bunny and more presenting information regarding the legislative fight around climate action, and centered around communities that have borne the brunt of climate change and environmental racism.
Lovitz in state race
Yes. Jon Lovitz is running for PA State Rep’s 182nd District. No, he is NOT the same guy who did “Opera Man” on “Saturday Night Live.” But he did take the old Love Park statue symbol for a logo for his race (clever, actually), so he’s got some theatrical flair. Two points.
Two restaurants close
Pour out a 40 and a bottle of Chianti: two of Philly’s landmark Italian restaurants, Moonstruck and LaBuca are outta here. Where do I get my langostinos now that La Buca is gone? Oh, the humanity.
Flood damage patience
And now a word to those restaurants around 5th and 6th between Bainbridge and South hit horribly by the flood: I know times are tough, and that you want to/need to get back to business and making money. But can you nag on just a tick more? Between the stench of the sewage and the old water (to say nothing of the area’s usual stink, made worse by record heat this week), all the pipes and generators, all the water-logged shit piled in the streets, nestled up against all the construction and utilities trucks and equipment, it looks and feels like a hurricane disaster zone. PLEASE WAIT just a minute more.
Support Philly Culture United
Supporting this city’s various and multiple arts scenes is crucial, so paying into the Philly Culture United organization is a solid jam and a good thing. One way to do it, and get something back for your quick cash: the Philly Summer Road Trip compilation from the Philly Holiday Album group with local acts such as Stereo League and Miss Cantaloupe doing their thing in the name of spy-sounding, seasonal pop and hop. Check in at phillycultureunited.com.
Oh, Lincoln Financial Field just opened for the Eagles season, which is nice. And there’s a slew of new menu offerings (I’m certainly not going for the game) to be found in Philip’s Steaks, Pierogi Place and Love & Honey Fried Chicken. Still, what the Linc doesn’t hold that Citizens Bank Park does, proudly, is a Greg Luzinski’s Bull’s BBQ and its foot-long “Bull Dog” kielbasa on a bun. Now that’s entertainment.
Masked Philly: Zak Berkman
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 re-opening, present-day unmasking and re-masking, worrying about Delta variants, freaking out about Fauci’s call for a potential third round of vax shots and new mandates being held off by jackass Gov. Wolf – I reached out this week to Zak Berkman, the current producing director at People’s Light Theater, and the upcoming artistic director and chief executive officer come 2022 when Abigail Adams steps down.
Busy guy, right? Before the current rush to a new season and new gig, Berkman was home playing with and jamming good with his kids, as well as dealing with his own decks. “While my two sons discovered their passion for acoustic guitar and electric bass, respectively, I finally entered the 21st Century of music recording,” says Berkman. “I got my feet wet in Digital Performer and GarageBand and have rediscovered my love of songwriting. No more cassette tape Fostex multitrack recorders for me.” (Note to all, A.D. will probably never give up his Fostex).
Where masks are concerned, and vaxes the thing, Berkman wears his face covering with pride. “The mask I’m wearing supports the (Wallingford-Swarthmore District) Strath Haven High School marching band. Both of my sons have been active with the music, theater, and arts programs at their schools, which were hugely challenged by the pandemic. I was hugely impressed by all they were still able to do, in-person and online. For scientific reasons and the social science involved, I’m very pro mask and vax. I’m not surprised they have become a flashpoint for our society. The struggle between individual rights and the collective good is part of our nation’s DNA. But I’m a theater-maker. I believe the greatest beauty, magic, and truth emerge through collaboration, interdependency, and trust. The mask and the vax are an acknowledgement of how much we should care for each other and not just ourselves. And, hey, where would theater be without masks?”
Damn good point, Mr. Berkman.
As for his future with People’s Light, not only is he gearing up for this weekend’s drive-in concerts, Berkman is prepping for the holiday season.
“I just adapted and composed a new version of Dickens’ Christmas Carol that People’s Light will premiere this November. I’m in the midst of finishing a new draft, while People’s Light wraps up an exciting summer with our family-friendly Folk Tales on the Glen series, a variety of education programs, and our series of outdoor concerts including two drive-in performances with Jill Sobule on Aug. 13-14 (peopleslight.org).”