Icepack | Dec. 24-31

Merry Christmas
Image: Jamie Street

It’s clockwork: Every year, within seven days of the holiday, we’re paid to take off and celebrate.

A local paper of record will ask its own tiresome version of “Is ‘Merry Christmas’ offensive to non-Christians?” with a tedious writer finding fault with God’s logic. As a dyed-in-the-dark-wool-devout Judeo-Christian Roman Catholic, I know that focusing on Christ at “Christmas” is meant to be inclusive of all – that was/is His whole deal. Like Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove,” where everyone EVERYONE is “getting down just for the funk of it. Good God.” 

So, all creeds and colors are in on the Christmas tip, and under the Yuletide wire, log, what-have-you.

Image: Chad Madden

Further proof that Jesus is just alright with me, and that it’s HIS birthday, we’re celebrating is the current mega-success of Montco teen WALLIS’ viral hit “Lonely Christmas.” The only notable thing to come out of Montgomery County since LEGOLAND isn’t singing about a lonely holiday. Ellen DeGeneres (who I can’t stand, but that’s not the point) didn’t hype WALLIS’ video to her 79 million followers because the 15-year-old singer-songwriter is crooning about something soulless like “the season.” IT’S CHRISTMAS SHE’S SINGING ABOUT AND IT’S CHRISTMAS THAT IS GIVING YOU A LONG WEEKEND IN A YEAR OF EVEN LONGER WEEKENDS. SO SHUT THE FUCK UP AND ENJOY THE HAM.

M. Night glad to be home

I can’t give too much away here – it is Philly’s M. Night Shyamalan after all – but the Penn Valley-born-and-bred auteur filmmaker whose locally shot “Servant” series Season 2 starts Jan. 15, told me, frankly, that filming his other project, “OLD,” away from home was jarring. His first film made outside of Philly (the Dominican Republic, yet) made him yearn for family and his immediate environment, and that he had never been away from them or his own bed for more than a few days before the project’s lengthy shooting schedule. 

Bid to blow up casino 

Whether you’re on the left or the right, you have to admit that developer Carl Icahn and Donald Trump (I know, I know, in name only, but still, who lets their shit run down like that?) really turned the long-closed Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino property into a scummy eyesore. The perfect Christmas gift – see what I did there, CHRISTMAS – then for the family member who has everything is a big red bow on the cigarette-stained winning finger on the button of the Trump Casino implosion. An auction benefiting AC’s Boys & Girls Club can be found here. Begin your bidding.

Banned politicians

Just an idea: Members of the NYC Restaurants Open group recently got together with the online Coney Island Blog, and banned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and now NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio from dining (not in, not according to these two) or getting take-out from any eateries in New York City. Splendid. Any restaurateurs in Philly or its suburbs – even Montco – pissed that they can’t serve, shouldn’t serve Philly’s Kenney or Pennsylvania’s Wolf. Let them dine in Maryland where we caught our mayor eating without a mask six months ago. Or just stick to Rouge on Rittenhouse where he was spied dining on Sunday night in a very enclosed tent.

Alex G scores movie

Gi-hugic DIY indie world lo-fi pop composer, player and Havertown-ian Alexander Giannascoli or Alex G or (Sandy) Alex G, is nothing if not prolific, what with three studio albums, one live album, and 12 singles released in the last five years alone. So why not score a film? AG scored the new gamer-based movie from director Jane Schoenbrun “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” set to premiere at Sundance on Jan. 31. “I listened to Alex’s music constantly while writing my movie,” tweeted Schoenbrun. “When I found out he was down to write a score + original music for the film, I basically had an out-of-body experience. His music is SO BEAUTIFUL.” I second that.

New mall leadership

Remember Icepack, circa autumn 2020, when I wrote that the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (your friendly neighborhood PREIT) had to cobble together a fast-financing plan for the worst idea ever – Market Street’s Fashion District Gallery Mall rethink – with its lenders in preparation of filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection? As of this weekend, Macerich Co., of Santa Monica, Calif. – Fashion District’s co-owner – will wrest control of the mall starting in January, after having paid a big chunk of its mortgage debt (around $100 mil on nearly $400 mil), and making all its decisions from here on out. Good for corporate symmetry. Bad for Philly. Expect a large hole in Market Street sooner than later.

Eagles Esports

At the exact time when eternally ungrateful QB Carson Wentz is demanding to be traded out of Philly, the Eagles do have one thing going for it: The team just reached an agreement with the unfortunate acronym EEG (that’s Esports Entertainment Group) to become the NFL’s first esports tournament club provider. This means that EEG will operate its twice yearly Madden NFL Esports tournaments for the Eagles utilizing its Esports Gaming League platform, AND make the Eagles into an EEG shareholder at the same time. Hey, Jeff Lurie didn’t make any profits selling tickets to cardboard cut-out fans or keeping Howie Roseman onboard. Money’s got to come from somewhere.

Image: Courtesy Aisha Maira Loeks

Masked Philly: The Beauty Princess Aisha Maira Loeks   

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 A Dash of Magic Events owner Aisha Maira Loeks and her alter ego, The Beauty Princess.

Loeks was selling handmade jewelry at the Philadelphia Flower Show when COVID hit. Suddenly, all selling at craft shows was canceled, and her business came to a screeching halt. 

“It took me less than five days to pivot and pull my hobby/back-burner business – dressing up as princesses for kids – off the shelf and started to do virtual princess visits,” said Loeks.

While Loeks quickly designed and sewed princess couture while teaching herself a new skill – wig making – her Princess character took on her own pandemic half-life. “My prince gifted me a huge library full of books, but I never had time to sit and read them all,” claimed the Princess. 

“Now, during the pandemic, I’ve been able to get through more than half of that library and have taken on a new skill of learning another language. I already speak English and French, but, now I’m learning Spanish, too.”

While Aisha is fond of her adjustable mask with the silicon beads on the back (“it makes it so it doesn’t pinch my ears so much, and I also have a matching necklace chain I made for it”), Loeks has also sewn a mask for the Princess to match the dresses she had already made for her, thus representing what the new normal of COVID-19 would become for the Princess. 

“I love that it is sparkly, and it’s my favorite color. Isn’t the gold just so pretty?” says the Princess.

While Loeks and her Princess are both waiting for the day that their masks could come off, their prince to come, and nab that princely kiss (“when the mask comes off now, I rub my face! It’s so weird how much you actually want to touch your face. I think I will feel really naked when they come down forever”) each has their own glittering vision of the present day. 

“I have been having such a wonderful time being a princess every weekend for the Princess Brunches at Germantown Garden Grill, and doing stoop visits to little kiddos all throughout Philadelphia,” said Loeks. 

“Also, online sales for my jewelry business (Adorned by Aisha) have been fantastic. Everyone has really been supporting local businesses.” 

As for the Princess, she is excited to spend Christmas in her castle and drink. 

“We always make eggnog from scratch and bake cookies together. Then, we lay by the fire and read books until we fall asleep.”


  • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

    A.D. Amorosi is an award-winning journalist who, along with working for the Philadelphia Weekly, writes regularly for Variety, Jazz Times, Flood and Wax Poetics, and hosts and co-produces his own SoundCloud-charting radio show, Theater in the Round for Pacifica National Public Radio station WPPM 106.5 FM and

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