In celebrating home-area hero Joe Biden’s first 100 days as president, yes – you have to confess to enjoying a certain amount of calm collectivity and good geniality – which is to admit-a-bit, MAN, I AM BORED.
And, while “Sleepy Joe” hasn’t done much good at all for Mexican immigrants along the Southwestern border, closer to home, along with looking to triple tax the richest one percent, Biden, over the weekend, stated his desire for local governments throughout the U.S. to provide high quality broadband internet as part of his trillion-dollar infrastructure restructuring. Impressive.
And yet, while the socialist in me says communal internet access for all is terrific, so to create equanimity along the electronic highway, the capitalist in me can’t help but picture Philly-based Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Verizon’s Hans Vestberg’s collective heads exploding. T-t-taxing the rich is one thing. Taking away a good portion of what made – and makes – them richer, is quite another thing altogether.
Look for Roberts and his friends to start looking for an acceptable Republican presidential candidate soon – and not fucking Chris Christie from Jersey, who claimed, the other day, he has interest in throwing his hat into the ring. It’s like “ReHab.” No. No. No.
New Garces spot
We’ve been calling Jose Garces one of our own for so long, we forget that the Iron Chef, philanthropist, web entrepreneur and 2020 Philly Weekly cover star is actually from Chicago. So, it makes sense, then, that he’d bring his past and its Chi-town signature pizza to bear on a new space, Hook & Master, a Chicago-style pizzeria with a tiki lounge, a Beatles-y Octopus’ Garden – all in collaboration with Steven Seibel (from Seibel Pies). The dinner-only (so far) at the old Liquid spot, 2nd and Master streets in Kensington, features the way-thin Chicago-tavern style pie, the deep dish pan-style Chi pie and several Brooklyn-style pizzas from Seibel…C’mon. Brooklyn? Gimme’ a break with the Greenpoint flava. Throw some mozzarella on that slice, Sal. Anyway, I digress. The Hook sounds cool.
Meek and Uzi
I won’t exactly swear that this is a NEVER-EVER before teaming, but I’m pretty damned certain: Philly-based rapper/Ph balance enthusiast Meek Mill and local jewel-headed MC Lil Uzi Vert, ATV enthusiasts, both – finally come together in one place: Young Thug’s Young Stoner Life Records’ label’s new mixtape album, “Slime Language 2.” The whole YSL Slime 2 affair is guest-feature packed with big names in hip-hop, such as Travis Scott, Big Sean and Kid Cudi, but, of course, Millie and Uzi stick out. Meek also makes Icepack news by going on the ‘Gram with the brand new, fully furnished house he bought for his grandmother.
“Loyalty is not just a word,” he wrote.
“Kick ya feet up Grandmom.” This is the same grandmother who, in 2018, sadly, had her South Philly home vandalized by racist spray painters, an act that sent Millie into an instant rage. Good on Meek for righting that wrong.
As if you needed more fat content on your gorging stroll through the Italian Market’s Cheesesteak Alley, the University of Pennsylvania-created Insomnia Cookies chain just opened a supposedly secret speakeasy-meets-CookieLab across from Pat’s Steaks. I don’t know how Insomnia hoped to maintain mystery when every neighbor of mine in that area knows and is loud about knowing, to say nothing of the battle in the scents of grilling meat grease and freshly baking chocolate dough. And by the way, Insomnia must have faith that South Philly is a place sans all concerns for physical health – there’s another late-night cookie shack of theirs right off the corner of Broad, Washington, the liquor store, and Chipotle. To quote Jim Morrison, “No one here gets out alive, and/or without considerable heart plaque and hardened arteries.”
‘Servant’ is back
With cherry blossom season in full bloom, Philly born-and-bred film auteur M. Night Shyamalan, his series star Rupert Grint, and dozens of socially-distanced camera peeps and crew descended upon a pink flowered Fitler Square for some filming of Apple TV+’s “Servant” season three episodes. My dog-walking friends in the tony neighborhood weren’t exactly pleased to be locked out of their park, but seeing evil “Servant” co-star Nell Tiger Free (the character is scary mean, I can’t speak to the person) assuaged the ire of the Filtlers a bit.
Bart Blatstein?! This name has gone unmentioned for too long, and Icepack is revving up to throw up more millions at his Showboat property in Atlantic City with the creation of the Lucky Snake, a 100,000-plus square-foot arcade that will feature old school shore-bound treats (e.g. Skee Ball, bowling, Pac-Man) and new vibe entertainment options (a virtual reality room). You can play basketball and box in a real boxing ring (how Gladiator!) And you can do all this at the Lucky Snake starting May 15, which is around the same time Blatstein is scheduled to break ground on a nearby beer garden, live music space, and his promised $100 million water park for summer 2022.
Nudes and brews
Here’s an event that can either go very well or very weird, very quickly: Old City’s Stratus Rooftop Lounge is holding a night with nude models and craft beverages, Stratus Uncovered: An Evening of Figure Drawing, on April 29. Together, with the guidance of an instructor (and surely some sort of bouncer and/or chaperone?) guests with paint and canvas (no photographers, this isn’t porn) those in attendance can “capture the image of a nude male or female muse – depending on preference – with paint and canvas.” Fifty dollars per person includes paint supplies and one snack from Stratus’ seasonal menu. A portion of its proceeds go to HARP, the Hospitality Assistance Response of Pennsylvania, for industry workers.
Masked Philly: Kitsie O’Neill
In Icepack’s continuing saga of asking mask-donning local celebrities what they’ve been up to, beyond the pale, during COVID-19’s pandemic, I reached out this week to Kitsie O’Neill, executive director of Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. If you’re looking to juggle, trampoline, do acrobatics or just wish to fly high through the air without the use of psycho-tropic drugs, O’Neill’s PSoCA is the joint.
Of course, COVID screwed O’Neill’s instructors when it came to hands-on interaction with the school’s all-aged students. So, the O’Neills worked out schooling scenarios for their West Mt Airy nearbys.
“Some neighbors we knew before the pandemic, others we didn’t know as well, and one family had just moved onto our block during COVID’s first summer,” said O’Neill.
“We connected over food – make cookies and drop them off at each other’s doors, share leftover birthday cake. In late summer, we began talking via Zoom and started a masked school pod co-op for our kindergartners, first, and second graders. It’s been wonderful in helping our kids connect. The biggest value is having a network of close neighbors to lean on since family and social supports were cut off with the shelter-in-place. It’s easier having peers who understand the frustrations, confusions and learning curves of navigating public school online with kids newer to school. Parenting is no different than running a circus school – you need a team working together, communicating, giving and taking.”
The mask? During winter, wearing a mask was cool for keeping warm.
“As silly as it sounds, it’s great when talking to folks, being able to really notice people’s eyes and subtle expressions…Also, when I get the occasional blemish or cracked lips, [it’s good] to have the masks as cover.”
Shopping for face masks for O’Neill’s children (ages 7 and 4) means buying funkier, character designed covers from Villavillekula in Chestnut Hill.
“It has been a lifesaver in helping to get my kids excited about wearing masks since they can choose different designs. Another unexpected bonus as a parent to a thumb sucker, kid mask-wearing has been helpful in deterring that habit with my 4-year old.”
Along with modulating conversational tone (“We need to work on our volume as we all talk a louder with the masks and social distancing”), O’Neill is gearing up for summer for her children and her PSoCA students, what with in-person classes commencing June 14, and virtual classes ongoing (phillycircus.com/virtual-classes).
“Being a parent during the pandemic has us taking on so many roles in our children’s life – everything from virtual teacher’s aid to playmate. I’m looking forward to my children this summer having experiences again outside of our home. We enrolled our 7-year old in camps in the Philly area, including Circus Camp at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. Since I work at my desk and am not on the floor teaching, I get the benefit of knowing what is planned for the day and then hearing my son’s experience through his perspective. With the circus, there are so many different disciplines to try. I’ve been in the business for over 15 years, and I can honestly say that the feeling of seeing someone give themselves the permission to try circus arts never gets old.”