Icepack | April 23-30

COVID-19 has Philly directors seriously looking into the future

Restaurant
Philly eateries are scratching, yet surviving to stay afloat. Here’s a taste of some of the few of them. | Image provided

What I want to know about The Great Return – my smart, soon-to-be-trademarked phrase for getting back to life, somewhat and slowly, with the cautious wane of COVID-19, and not that jackhole rush to the beaches that Floridians thought wise this weekend – is will it come with our new accouterment, hand sanitizer?

If I head to a restaurant or bar, will there be sanitizer on the white linen-set table next to the flickering candle (but not too near). Will fresh cool clear sanitizer come in vintages like wine or degrees of density and strength like IPAs?

Will it have funny names for it like craft brewers give beers? Will I still be able to pull up to my favorite distilleries and tasting spaces such as Old City’s Art in the Age hot spot, and, along with buying Root, can I still get some of that fine Tamworth Distilling small batch (like good bourbon) White Mountain Hand Sanitizer? Here’s hoping.

See ‘Selah’ 

One local with a film just out and screening now is West Philly native Tayarisha Poe, whose Amazon Studios’ “Selah and The Spades” dropped on Amazon Prime last Friday without tons of warning. Born and raised around 40th & Baltimore and Cedar Ave., with a yen for a film (and Rihanna videos, which shows through in the cinematography of “Selah”) since her teens, Poe’s full-length directorial and writing debut is set in the suburbs of Philadelphia and the boarding school culture in which she was educated (Poe went to Swathmore College, as did her brother, Assistant Professor of Music & Dance Jumatatu Poe). Only in Tayarisha’s film, “Selah” is a boss of bosses whose power dynamics are focused as much on being a crime overlord as it is a queen of school activities. 

So, how much of “Selah” was in any way autobiographical, or about characters she knew? I asked Poe that last week. “The details of the world and the fact that it is set in boarding school to shine through – the causal nature of when you erase the fine line between home life and school life and they’re all the same life… all that was part of my life,” said Poe. “The more organized structure of cliques – factions, in the film – that’s part of prep school culture. That too is a part, yes.” 

Poe is a boss like “Selah,” too, but not over a similar dominion. I’m not telling you more – the film’s too good. “Selah and The Spades” is a great reason to make sure your Amazon Prime membership is up to date. Plus, you could look for a hand sanitizer.

The reels are drying up for films being made in Philadelphia thanks to COVID-19. Here are some of the films that stalled courtesy of the coronavirus. | Denise Jans

Philly films

Filming in Philadelphia has ceased for the moment – sorry, M. Night – but luckily that isn’t slowing the roll of directors with stuff In the can or producers from making deals for the future.

On the production tip, Motley Crue manager Allen Kovac – both on a roll after having produced the hit Netflix movie “The Dirt” – has started his own new film production arm, Better Noise Films. Kovac hired Dan Lieblein (October Films, USA Films) as COO, and among the first flicks they have on Better Noise’s development slate of feature films and original content is one from Philly Born Films’ local producer/writer Mike Walsh and director/editor Bridget Smith.

Walsh and Smith’s “Sno Babies” was shot principally throughout 2018, is about a 16-year-old heroin-addicted honor student battling “the underbelly of suburban teen life,” and, so far, stars Paola Andino (“Queen of South”) and ‘Michael Lombardi (“The Deuce”). More word on this as the deal develops.

‘Empire’ crumbles

By the way, remember how last week I told you about the rumored R. Kelly-based feud between Southwest Philly native director-producer-writer Lee Daniels, his lying ass star Jessie Smollett, and how they both fucked up their once-hit hip-hop soap opera ”Empire” with their mess? Well, with no fanfare AT ALL, “Empire” ended on April 21. That’s it. Last one. Rumor has the producers blaming COVID-19 for its abrupt end (“Empire” was ceasing this season), but, maybe, everybody just stopped watching when Smollett hit himself over his own head and made a fuss. Anyway.

Save the restaurants

Are you signing the “Save Philly Restaurants from Economic Devastation of COVID-19 Crisis” Change.org petition going around? With its primary message already sent to Philly’s mayor, Pennsylvania’s governor, councilpersons and Congresspeople, a governing body of 150-plus independent restaurants are pushing for emergency money now, “as we cannot wait for federal aid,” goes its legend. I know. You’re sick of Change.org petitions, especially those revolving around anything “Tiger King.” I GET IT. But. Go to Change.org now and yell for Philly Restaurants. 

Virtual music fest 

Remember the week in March (so long ago it seems, right?) that COVID-19 shut down music venues in Philly, and tours around the world, and how local manager-facilitator Andy Blackman Hurwitz and producer Phil Nicolo dropped everything to broadcast “Love from Philly” from a recording studio in the ‘burbs with too many people in one room not social distancing, and caught shit for that, but got zero credit for trying to raise money? That one? 

Yes or no, they’re trying “Love From Philly” again as a three-day “virtual music and arts and connection” fest, May 1 through 3, to raise money for resources focused on the music community, and so far, is featuring Schoolly D, Kurt Vile, Ursula Rucker, G Love, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, the Disco Biscuits, alone in solo projects and together, and more. If all goes as planned. Hit up the LoveFromPhillyLive tag at Instagram to find out details of how to view and how to give.

Shay’s passing 

Lastly, let’s raise a glass to Gene Shay, the legendary Philadelphia king of folk music who passed away from the effects of the coronavirus. He brought Dylan into Philly first, at the Ethical Society, before the boom, played Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” on the radio mere minutes after she wrote that classic between Philly dates at the Second Fret, created the outdoor Philadelphia Folk Festival that has lasted until the present day, and helped give the rawest of folk music a much-deserved level of sophistication with his cool, calm radio voice and playful demeanor. He was a gentleman, a scholar, a bon vivant and knew how to wear a scarf in a manner that any dandy like myself would envy. 

  • 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.