Now that my Philadelphia has its first round of pandemic-related vaccine inoculations out on the street (are we there yet, Thomas Farley?) for hospital/medical personnel…
…(these first responding heroes should get something for their trouble, what with having to wear scrubs as a fashion statement 24/7), there’s a whole host of fresh headaches and frank ideas to consider while the healing begins:
a) Who would call a government development program “Operation Warp Speed” other than some Trekkie in the Trump administration, someone goofily stargazing and self-possessed enough to turn even a vaccine-worthy world emergency into a screaming kids cartoon, a reality show, or a Marvel Comics Universe action-adventure? Vroom, vroom.
b) Who among your self-serving friends, acquaintances and business associates (among whatever businesses are left, but I digress) will soon start saying they deserve an anti-COVID-19 shot before everyone else? (Yes, I’ve already heard one such conversation at an outdoor patio dining table along East Passyunk Avenue on the last gorgeously appointed warm weather weekend in this hellhole of a 2020. And, yes, I know who you are, selfish prick Dan Dan Noodle Eater. THAT PLATE WAS FOR THE WHOLE FUCKING TABLE, PIG). And how soon will they start looking down at you as in, “no fucking way, no how, are you more deserving of the vaccine” than them?
c) Who went onto E*TRADE over the last seven days and dropped their last remaining PPP money – the cash they didn’t give their employees, but instead donated to a handful of social change initiatives – on Pfizer/BioNTech stock?
d) Who in Philly city government will turn down the opportunity for early COVID-19 shots – like Trump & Co. did in its new announcement – so that less the fortunate can be vaccinated? I don’t see Kenney or Krasner as “women and children first” kind of guys.
e) Who did you most hear, since the announcement of the COVID-19 inoculation, using the phrase, “If I don’t get a flu shot, nowww, why would I get a COVID shot?” Two things come to mind here: the obviousness of the plague vs. the sniffles is one. Secondly, I am not a person who gets regular flu shots, preferring instead my usual warding-off-flu method of chewing up raw coneflowers, swallowing handfuls of Zinc and drinking copious amounts of potato vodka. Having realized that I have too much to live for (who else can write this column?) and too many suits I haven’t worn yet, I’ll take the COVID-19 shot. Oh, and did I mention that I’m a doctor?
Work it out, guys
A bonus round, pre-inoculation “C’mon, man,” goes to those local men and women – mostly in the gray suburbs – who own or attend gyms, health clubs and workout centers in the area, and stake their psychic claim to ignore lockdown orders as a rite of personal freedom. I get it. You paid all this money for that Lululemon Athletica gear, and want to show it off. But, you’re no Libertarians. Trainers: Do just like Philly restaurateurs do, open up your parking lots, buy several industrial heaters, and stretch. Trainees: stay home and do a pushup for God’s sake.
Birx in town
Speaking of “to vaccinate or not vaccinate,” Dr. Deborah Birx – scourge of the White House Coronavirus Task Force as its response coordinator and recent “Saturday Night Live” caricature – spent some dining time at The Love in the Rittenhouse area, fiddling while Rome burned, as well as at Camden’s Cooper University Hospital. No word if anyone peed in her Kennett Square Exotic Mushroom Soup.
Beehive music buzzing
Philadelphia’s creepy crawly young psychedelic ensemble Spirit of the Beehive hadn’t been heard from in a tic – nothing but a quick, spare song “The Door is Open,” a single earlier this year with zip word of any follow-ups. Last week, however, the five-man SpiBeehive dropped a spooky, fleeting, cut-up collage of sound and image on the Twitter account of Saddle Creek Records, signaling a new label and an even more bugged out new direction. Boo.
New scholarship fund
Maybe, just maybe, a towering Philadelphia rapper didn’t like being called cheap in my column last week after handing a group of local kids – in total – a $20 bill for their trouble. Dag, Millie. I say that because, this week, Mill is prepping that long-discussed $2 million scholarship fund to benefit underprivileged kids in Philadelphia in need and want of educational tools, the fund he started with his billion buddy, the 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin. Well, allllreet. Rubin’s got the cash, what from selling off his e-commerce, Chicago-based online-shopping platform, the ShopRunner, to FedEx, then going brick-and-mortar (which had to be cheaper), by buying out Minnesota’s WinCraft factory through his Fanatics parent organization. WinCraft is an old school legacy sports logo factory for college and professional teams gear (hats, pennants, etc.), and Fanatics is an all online jawn made to sell said gear. Supply and demand. Maybe Rubin can make that scholarship fund worth $4 mil.
New places to eat
West Philly. It’s not just for sweaty house parties with bands from Drexel and People’s Emergency Center affordable artist housing in Mantua anymore. There’s comfort food. And it’s moving around, all wiggly like. Take U-of P campus fave Baby Blues BBQ, which just moved down the block from its 34th and Sansom Street digs. Or Mantua’s own, shiny new Sticky’s at 3300 Fairmount Avenue. The not-so-handsomely titled munchies spot is the home of tasty chicken tenders from NYC with the West Philly outlet as the first Sticky’s outside of NY and NJ. So, hey.
Masked Philly: Dorothea Gamble
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 Dorothea Gamble, the co-owner and operator of Trunc in Northern Liberties, at N. 2nd Street.
A Red Bank, N.J., native who co-owns the artisans-focused property with her partner, Dagmar Mitchell, Trunc is the only Black makers arts, crafts and gift store in Philly. Trunc is Black-owned, lesbian-owned, woman-owned and veteran-owned, and Gamble and Mitchell have been working hard to survive during COVID with online and curbside service.
“I did, however, receive an air fryer for my birthday, the kind with all the bells and whistles, which sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it?” said Gamble of what she did with what little downtime she had during the COVID-19 quarantine.
“It was so challenging to use, though, I wanted to throw it out the window. I hated it. But I would not be defeated. I am not a quitter. I finally stopped burning meat to a crackly crunch. Now, I can roast a whole chicken in it. Yummy. Plus, for our business, since Trunc didn’t have an online store prior to the pandemic, I spent the last few months learning about upgrading our website, setting up an e-commerce store.”
Gamble doesn’t mind wearing a mask, and hers is handmade by an Ethiopian woman, Architect, who is also a handbag maker.
“She started making masks because of the pandemic and to help the family that makes her bags (Hiwi Leather) continue to make a living, while living in Ethiopia supporting her community,” said Gamble.
“This mask is not just beautiful, it’s versatile. Can be worn as a bandana, neckerchief, head scarf.”
When the masks can come down forever (“if that day comes”), Gamble will keep her favorites as collector’s items, vintage pieces to be treasured. Until then, she and her partner are focusing on “supporting Black makers around the region,” while planning for 2021, several youth initiatives (“helping them utilize their skills and training them in a craft”), and continuing to evolve the Trunc website as a place for good beyond sales.
“I am sure as the new normal progresses, I will also teach myself one or three more skills before all this is over.”