While sending deep and abiding condolences for the family of the victim, first and foremost, it only figures that Philly would be the first city in America in which to set rack up a record setting 500th murder. And counting. Fast. Because Philly’s weak administrators obviously won’t rest until we hold an unbeatable, unattainably untouchable violent death record, thus marring the all-around merriness of the Christmas-Hannukah-Kwanza season, and whatever eked out positivity we found and held in 2021.
As the United States’ first city in the days of building declarations of independence and initial constitutional mandates, I just can’t help but worry that this new first is something our forefathers (with their own shames to bear, trust me) would’ve planned out or been proud of. Ho ho ho.
It’s holiday time
That reminds me. With a surprisingly calm and un-bad/not lousy/hardly messily, uneventful Thanksgiving Day parade behind us, the holiday season of shopping, drinking, oil smoking and MDA-sucking has officially commenced. That means the boozy Tinsel Christmas pop-up bar is now up and running in Center City (hey, remember Center City), that NoLibs Evil Genius Beer Company will host its woozily brew-heavy crooked star topping tree ceremony Dec. 2 at 6 pm, that Old City’s series of events including a virtual tree lighting (huh?), a parade of lights and its shopping stroll all light up between Dec 1 and 15. And, of course, there is Mayor Kenney’s corporate sponsored tree-lighting celebration on Thursday just to pretend that he cares about any form of real and just good will. Again, ho and ho and ho.
Barstool Mountain space
Speaking of Center City, the besieged and bedraggled Barstool Mountain crew (its boss, Dave Portnoy, is currently under scrutiny and real investigation for hardcore sexual harassment charges) and its partial ownership CEOs from the Wyomissing-based Penn National Gaming just took over 1213 Sansom Street for an upcoming new BM-themed bar/dining establishment currently in build out mode. What could a Barstool Mountain-themed space be since it won’t be any sort of betting salon? Something ragingly misogynistic, loud, boyish, testosteroni, sports bar-like and yell-y, for sure. Apply well-bar booze to that oozing wound, and you have every party I did my best to miss out on in college. Sounds like fun.
Reef the Lost Cauze music
While you weren’t looking over the T Day/Black Friday break, Philly’s legendary avatar of conscious hip hop, rapper and producer Reef the Lost Cauze dropped a new album, Reef the Lost Cauze IZ ALIVE, (my favorite track is “Batman Returns”), creating a first: his own answer rap in response to his album Reef the Lost Cauze Is Dead.
Another thing that dropped before Thanksgiving, this time on streaming services (no, not the miserable Kevin Hart True Story drama on Netflix) is Delco filmmaker and screenwriter Lydia Peterson’s b-ball flick Walking On. The Amazon Prime film marks her cinematic debut, was paid for mostly by a hearty GoFundMe campaign, can be purchased for digital download on iTunes, and her Instagram hypes up the making of Walking On – instagram.com in great detail.
Chef in Residency
In the still-new and ever continuing revolving door Chef in Residency program created for the post-still-here-COVID re-opening of Volvér on Broad Street’s Kimmel Cultural Campus, its owner/CEO/Chef Jose Garces welcomes Chef Phila Lorn to the party. Designed to hype-up rising star minority chefs with a focus on Black, Brown, LGBTQ and female chefs impacted by the pandemic, Lorn (in a residency that will run until Jan. 17) is seeking cash so to open his first restaurant showcasing Cambodian food, music and culture, and will serve up like-minded dishes at Volvér such as Pleah, Roasted Hamachi Collar, Mawn “Pho Don” and more.
Disco Biscuits’ NFT
Sure, you know what you’re talking about when it comes to cryptocurrency and NFTs. So why not buy in big to Philly’s longtime favorite jam-electro-ensemble The Disco Biscuits’ newly-dropped VIP-heavy NFT co-created with the crypto CEOs of YellowHeart out-of-NYC and visual artist The Real Theory. The Biscuit NFT dropped on Monday with some groovy psychedelic artwork (buy it here: https://yh.io/), the full collection went live on Dec. 1 exclusively in the YellowHeart marketplace, and along with the red carpet treatment to upcoming Disco Biscuits concerts and other treats, you’ll also get access to scads of new live music recorded by the University of Penn grads from several secret local warehouse locations.
Masked Philly: Bill Gehrman
In Icepack’s way too-long, 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, new mask and vax card mandates, ignored or not ignored (I mean why did I wait in line at the Convention Center if you’re not asking to see my card?), the possibility of mix-and-matching vaccines which is weird, AND NOW, YEAH OF COURSE, the whole worldwide B.1.1.529 Omicron variant scare, so welcome to ROUND THREE, I reached out this week to Bill Gehrman.
Gehrman is the capo de capo of Philly’s En Route Marketing and PR who, in the next several weeks, will celebrate 15 years in the biz when 2022 rings in. Dig it.
When COVID hit (and now that its variants are ripe and spreading), Gehrman and his Center City-located En Route crew worked from home, but missed their out-and-abouts.
“I explored my South Philly neighborhood for diversion and much-needed exercise,” he says. Plus, I live seven blocks from where my great-grandparents settled after emigrating from Italy. The East Passyunk neighborhood holds memories from growing up, so I was able to shop in the Italian Market more often, and I found charming side streets that I never had time for. I also discovered FDR Park, have been keeping up with the major redevelopment plans for that huge swath of land, and definitely bonded with our two cats who seem to like having me at home.”
Beyond the quiet of home and family, Gehrman has busied himself being proactive in helping those facing food insecurity in our backyards. “I’ve been donating to the Saint Gabriel’s Church Food Cupboard, which provides food to those in need in Southwest Philadelphia. I also try to stock up the community cupboard around the corner from my home, making runs with a variety of meal supplies every week or two.”
Good on him.
Gehrman is big on vaxxes and masks, got his face covering while shopping local in Chestnut Hill at Serendipity, and gets the whole protect-ya-neck vibe from his travels. “I traveled to China for business for six years and observed people wearing masks on a daily basis to protect them from germs,” says Gehrman. “Faced with a true pandemic, wearing a mask is a simple courtesy and an important symbol that you care about those around you. And, the vaccines are not only critical to health and safety but are also the only way the economy can rebound. We are seeing this week, new COVID variations are emerging that continue to extend the threat. Vaccines have been the key to public health for decades, and I’m hopeful that they will help us get to a point where we are living with COVID without needing restrictions.”
Speaking of an economy’s rebound, over the last 18 months Gehrman has collabed with his En Route team and their clients to help them manage through uncertainty and financial challenges. “We helped create virtual programs, fundraisers, and kept audiences engaged through social and online content. Today I am focused on encouraging people to buy local and support small businesses, nonprofits, museum stores, artists and makers. With the current supply chain issues and increased costs of consumer goods, I want to leverage this opportunity to put the spotlight on the local economy. We don’t need to look beyond our neighborhoods to find special gifts and experiences. Supporting independent stores and organizations is good for Philadelphia, and avoiding online shopping and shipping supports sustainability.”