Welcome to the week where Philadelphia jumped over the 400 murders mark. The Phillies may still be breaching an uncertain, but probably bad battle into the National League East title with an improbable outcome, and I’m pretty sure we’re not going to get that desired 2026 World Cup host role no matter how many FIFA delegates dine at, and dig, Jean-Georges, honeynut squash agnolotti with amaretti crumble and all. The most murder thing though, we’ve got that down, done, won and covered.
Move on from Simmons
Speaking of non-wins, or non-starters what-have-you, I’m feeling really bad for the Philadelphia 76ers’ president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, coach Doc Rivers and the ball players who were set to jump on a plane to Los Angeles to visit Ben Simmons to get him to come to the Sixers’ training camp. Like a bad high school prom date, point guard Simmons is, over and over and repeatedly telling – and not softly signaling – his disgust with all things Philly and his unwillingness to participate in any way ever in extracurricular activities. And yet, here is Morey, Rivers and our ballers in hot pursuit to get Simmons to wear the corsage and join in on the team fun. Please let this man go. Call the deal you made a pricey mistake, send back the tux and the limo, and move on.
Proving again and again that he refuses to be derailed by the horrible hand dealt by a fateful 2015 Amtrak accident that severely injured his spinal cord and slowed his role as an overseer (with Ellen Yin) at the kitchens at Fork, a.bar, a.kitchen and High Street on Market, Eli Kulp has made the sweetest of lemonade from the sourest of circumstances. First, in 2020, Kulp launched his own show, The CHEF Radio Podcast, that dealt with serious personal, professional and social issues within the Philadelphia and national food and restaurant scenes. Emotive and powerful, The CHEF Radio Podcast proved how effective a broadcaster and interviewer Kulp could be. As of last Wednesday, Kulp has added another broadcast/podcast credit to his resume by show-running and co-hosting Delicious City, a set-in-Philly-culinary-cast with the chef joined by Philly food scribe Sarah Maiellano and local radio producer Marisa Magnatta from WMMR’s Preston & Steve Show. Noted by Kulp to be an “audio food blog,” Delicious City (recorded twice a month and available at all podcast platforms including its host site, Radio Kismet) will feature a call-in line beyond the trio’s recommendations. This phone-up, call-in feature is either going to be truly brilliant or really dangerous, but definitely and most outrageously Philadelphian – like a live Yelp with every dialect known to the area and beyond. I love this – as the only things locals like to rant about more during call-ins than sports, is food.
Amos Lee album, show
We really don’t and didn’t hear enough from gold-plated Philly singing-songwriting sifu Amos Lee during the 18 months and counting of COVID. Shame, that. So it is nice that Lee will remedy that with the announcement of a seventh studio album, Dreamland (due Feb. 11, 2022, on the Dualtone label) and a show at The Met Philly (April 15, 2022) whose tickets go on sale this Friday, Oct. 1.
Trump Plaza redevelopment
Because Atlantic City will never be completely free of giving Donald Trump its money in some way, shape or form, the Jersey shore town just awarded a $50,000 grant (a grant?) to redevelop the one-time (and longtime eyesore) Trump Plaza casino and hotel site that has sat vacant growing weeds since the decrepit property was demolished in February of this year. While the actual demolition raised over $16,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of AC, the promise of development has been mentioned in the same breath as adding a new retail space to the sea and sandy city. Also unwise, but hey.
I know I mentioned this last week with Icepack’s Masked Philly tribute to visiting Chef Phila Lorn, but, chef and co-owner Bobby Saritsoglou’s Stina BYO Newbold monthly Guest Chef + Benefit Dinners just expanded with Chef David Ansill and more fellow local cookers after its Sept. 30 debut. Details are surely at stinapizzeria.com and 215-337-3455.
Terror proves too terrifying
Philly Mag caught this first, so mega kudos to them, BUT: no more Terror Behind the Walls Halloween seasonal performances at Eastern State Prison? Because the show is too frightening? How will every bloody gauze donning actor and musician looking to make a buck on the side do now for cash now that the prison is opting for more menu choices, and surely a DJ. End of an era, folks. Nothing was more heartwarmingly disturbing than being in a dank hole with the drummer of your favorite band or a ballet company dancer making un-merry for Halloween.
Vanessa Hudgens, singer/songwriter, known for High School Musical, was in Philly over the weekend where the noted Halloween lover kicked off spooky season with a visit to Nightmare Before Tinsel Halloween Pop-up Bar – she even posted about the visit to her 42.5 million followers. Hudgens is a big lover of spooky season and Halloween time as can be seen on her social media accounts – she even sported extra spooky nails to match the vibe. For drinks, she had the Bloody Bags, which features Espolon Blanco, Orange Liqueur, Cranberry Juice, Red Bull. Rumor has it she was in town with her boyfriend, Pittsburgh Pirate Cole Tucker, as he was playing against the Phillies on Sunday. Her Instagram is here: instagram.com/vanessahudgens. The post is here: instagram.com/p/CUS1tYCrBEo.
Masked Philly: Arik Victor
In Icepack’s way too-long and now way 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 unmasking and re-masking, worrying about Delta variants, freaking out about Fauci’s call for a potential third round of vax shots mere five months after the last, and new mask and vax card mandates – I reached out this week to Arik Victor.
Victor, the longtime and legendary owner of Creep Records – the stores in Fishtown at The Piazza’s 1050 N. Hancock, and West Chester, as well as the hardcore-centric label – did the same thing most of us did when the pandemic first hit, then quelled: he slowed the roll on his store’s vinyl, cassette and CD sales (“CDs are going to start selling big now that new vinyl is so pricey”), his indoor live appearances and his label’s recording and releasing efforts. Until he didn’t.
“We rebuilt the whole of our recording studio at 5th & Girard,” says Victor, of what and how he occupied himself during Covid’s closedown. “We had so much time that we really dedicated ourselves to making Creep Studio right. We didn’t have anything else to do. It was a facelift with new soundproofing. New coats of paint. It probably was no different than all of the people rushing to Home Depot to re-do their houses. We just also happened to buy a new 24-track, two-inch tape machine. We also bought guitars for the studio. Though sad, it was a good time to buy studio and recording gear from people looking to get out and in need of cash.”
Along with re-configuring the Creep recording studio, Victor states that the record stores too kept busy whether the sales were in-store or online. “I also managed to get up to Asbury Park too many times, probably out of boredom. It was the easiest place in which to get out of town, but not be on the beach. I’m fascinated too by the gentrification of Asbury Park and the same thing happening up here in North Philly. Of all the things I did to waste time, that was probably the most wasteful but fun.”
As far as masks go and vaxes go, not only does Victor buy it and wear them (“It’s a small task”), his Creep Records silk-screened, self-printed and sold their own branded masks. When audiences and artists come into the store for play-in events, everyone is masked and those who sing into microphones find their mics quarantined and disinfected. “We put those mics away for a few days and use new ones.”
As to what is next, Victor is currently riding the vinyl boom by working in tandem with RuffNation Entertainment on a series of new and vintage hip-hop recordings (stay tuned on this count), as well as pushing his Creep Records label to issue and reissue a handful of new and old hardcore and punk recordings this winter. “The first thing we’re doing is a pushing out a record from The Ergs! from New Jersey – they actually sell records,” says Victor, pointing to the punk rock toast of South Amboy, N.J., with Mikey Erg (Mike Yannich), guitarist/vocalist Jeff Erg (Jeff Schroeck), and bassist Joey Erg (Joe Keller), and the re-release of “Okay, Enough Reminiscing/Hindsight is 20/20 My Friend Volume Two.” “That’s the jumping point for the Creep label coming back out of its shell.”