Icepack | April 16-23

Inside the 'Philly is a COVID hot spot' debacle

The back and forth between the City of Philadelphia and the Trump Administration over just how COVID viral the city is. | Image provided

“You’re a hot spot.”

“No we’re not. You’re a hot spot.”

That’s the newest, bitch-festing, back-and-forth between Washington’s White House and Philadelphia’s City Hall, the likes of which have been happening, heatedly, ever since 2017 when Trump took office a year after Mayor Kenney. 

Trump threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities such as Philly that wouldn’t cooperate with U.S. immigration officials in holding undocumented immigrants for nonviolent crimes. Kenney told Trump to go to hell. Trump tweeted that a handful of minority Democratic congresswomen should “go back” to their home countries. Kenney told Trump to go back to hell.

Trump disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from coming to the White House after our Super Bowl victory when several players dissed the president for not reforming the prison system. Kenney told Trump to go to hell, and that the President was “a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.” Go to hell just wasn’t good enough in that case, I suppose. 

It would be one thing if it was just the two of them going at it like cavones sniping about who took whose parking space. Now, the nattering includes Trump’s people and Kenney’s people, Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the Trump Administration’s White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx says we’re in bad, bad shape coming up soon, and is giving us the heebie-jeebies. Philadelphia’s stern, but cool-headed Department of Public Health Commissioner Thomas Farley is cautiously optimistic that Philly’s COVID-19 case growth has slowed and that we’re flattening our curves. 

Health?! These administrations can’t agree on health. Trump and Kenney have actually managed to infect their crews – like Biggie involving Puffy in his feud with Tupac, or like Stassi turning Scheana against Jax on “Vanderpump Rules.”

Quarantine gifts 

Public relations is tricky biz when so much of what must be related is currently kinda-sorta blunted, and so much of what should have been public is private. While many Philadelphia PR firms are on the job and working as usual, with social distance in mind, several PR peeps have moved a cog and shifted gear.

While Nicole Cashman’s Cashman & Associates have smartly added “Crisis Management” to its list of services, Punch Media’s Kylie Flett – and/or her side hustle’s nom de plume, Resting Gift Face – has prepared several versions of a proactive Quarantine Gift Package, all of which “allow people to connect with family and friends in a fun and unique way while also employing safe social distancing practices – without putting on pants.” It’s got Custom-Made Zombie Tic Tac Toe (“like regular Tic Tac Toe but for the apocalypse”), a Quarantini Recipe Card & Emergen-C® Garnish, and more, and can be found at restinggiftface.com.

Trump and Kenney have actually managed to infect their crews – like Biggie involving Puffy in his feud with Tupac, or like Stassi turning Scheana against Jax on “Vanderpump Rules.”

‘Empire’ drama 

Celebs can’t travel for WHOWHATWHERES in Philly (so, where does that leave Brit singer Harry Styles and his Main Line main man Xander Ritz or the Sixers’ Ben Simmons and Kendall Jenner?), but that doesn’t mean those with Philly ties can’t do stupid things. Take Radnor High grad/West Philly native Lee Daniels, whose multi-season Fox Network hip hop-era “Empire” basically got felled because its third-star-down, Jussie Smollett, wanted attention, faked an attack, and got caught – thus bringing down everyone and every “Empire” with him. 

Apparently Daniels and Smollett aren’t talking. No duh. But, a klatch of hip hop gossip sites claims that the dissent initially stemmed from Daniels rumored-ly wanting “Empire” to include songs written by R. Kelly (cue the Lifetime logo) and perhaps even for additional Kelly songs to be included on Smollett’s solo album, away from the series. Not only did Smollett say no repeatedly to Daniels, but he also went over Lee’s head and griped to Fox about their creative differences. Bad and worse. Ugly stuff all around, gents.

South Philly group Cayetana dropped some new stuff on Bandcamp this week that’s a must-listen. | Image provided

New music

Nicer, not-so-bitchy news out of West Philly finds electro artist, producer and DJ RJD2 – Ramble Jon Krohn,  the owner of the record label RJ’s Electrical Connections, the man famed for composing and recording the theme music to AMC’s “Mad Me” – putting out his first new music in four years. That includes a fresh single, the icy instrumental “20 Grand Palace” and his new album, ”The Fun Ones,” out this Friday with contributions from some of his old friends such as Phonte Coleman, J-Zone, Kid Koala, Mr. Lif, and his neighbor, Philly’s Son Little. 

Music for a cause

We haven’t heard from the femme “South Philly” trio Cayetana since 2017’s “New Kind of Normal,” and their breakup in 2019. That’s not OK. What is OK though is that they have broken their silence (and smoothed over their separation? Here’s hoping) with the Bandcamp release of “not what we meant by NEW KIND OF NORMAL demos & unreleased songs” whose proceeds all go to purchasing masks for nurses and home health care workers in Philly. Cayetanaphilly’s Instagram states that the trio has already been able to purchase 100 custom-made respirator masks, so rock on.

GoFundMe effort

Last August, here in Philadelphia Weekly, I introduced you to Bobby and Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou, the chef and married co-owners of Stina in the Newbold area, whose primary mission – you know, after preparing Mediterranean-inspired grill fare and wood oven-baked everything – was to donate, every month, a handsome portion of its proceeds to rotating area charities. It could be Philly AIDS Thrift that Kallas-Saritsoglou co-owns and operates. Or Juntos Philadelphia, the local immigrant organization looking after Latinx workers’ rights. They shift their donating dollars and needs shift. 

“We’re a mission-driven restaurant,” Bobby told me. 

Well, the shift in mission has now moved to a GoFundMe page as Stina has closed due to the demands of preserving health, and is looking to keep its workforce and continue all of its missions when COVID-19 is crushed. So check this out: gofundme.com/supporting-the-stina-community.

  • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

    A.D. Amorosi is a Philadelphia-based journalist who, along with Philadelphia Weekly, writes for numerous local, national and international publications including Variety and the Philadelphia Inquirer.