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Icepack | Feb. 11-18

Eat it up: Reopening, new venues for Philly restaurant scene

Image: Courtesy of Forsythia

I know you still feel a little lost, even kind of deflated after the long weekend of:

Watching Freehold’s Bruce Springsteen sell his soul to Jeep during the Super Bowl (is it really OK to somehow pretend to be from both New Jersey and Steinbeck’s Dust Bowl all at the same time? And why doesn’t he clean that dirty hat he’s wearing in the ad?); and seeing the trailer for local director M. Night Shyamalan’s “Old” only to realize that, yes, it really does look old and tired (though, hey, it was nice that he got out of Philly to film it – the Dominican Republic). 

You were hit over the head by yet another boring reference to Philly’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping, in a Super Bowl commercial, no less. 

You dealt with yet another Philly teacher strike – this one simmered and stewed in all the COVID-19 juices of asking union members to hold classes in still-unsafe conditions. 

You heard about a sloppy, supposedly drunken, off-duty Philly cop allegedly crashing his car into a house in Northeast Philly, critically injuring its homeowner, and killing one of her two dogs (now, that shit you can defund if you so choose). 

Ugh. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Fetterman is in 

The rough race for Philadelphia’s DA aside, local politics were set to be boring in 2021 – dryer than the script to “Bridgerton” – that is until Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman psyched himself up on Monday and made official what we long had hoped: That he would again run for U.S. Senate. He’s got a cool wife who doesn’t take shit from toothless crones who dis her. He comes across like an unholy pairing of Jesse Ventura and The Rock, wears really interesting track clothes, and is just the smartest, savviest, funniest (advertently funny too – not like every governor this state has had since – and including Milton Schapp), most pragmatic state politico we’ve ever had. No matter what your party affiliation, I suggest you get on board the Fetterman train, ASAP. 

New eateries

When Philly’s Top Chef Nick Elmi announced he was leaving his Old City salon/saloon the Royal Boucherie to concentrate on something else, my first thought was DONUTS, the motherfucker is gonna stick to the donuts that bring out E-Passyunk hipster douches by the droves for his Curiosity Doughnuts. No. Not it. Thankfully, Elmi’s going to focus on his two upcoming, respective, March then April suburban offerings with Fia Berisha (from Mistral) in Bala Cynwyd’s long-discussed Pencoyd Iron Works reconstruction/deconstruction: An all-day café, The Landing Kitchen, then Lark, a Mediterranean meat and fish eatery. As a parting gift, Elmi will leave ex-Vetri Cucina chef Matt Buehler at the Royal and in the capable hands of co-owners/Bouchers Stephen Simons and David Frank when when it reopens… you know… whenever this city opens up its indoor dining percentages.

Forsythia reopens

Sacre bleu. WHO DID just re-open in Old City, big and in time for Valentine’s Day, is chef-owner Christopher Kearse’s Franco-filing Forsythia on Chestnut Street. Kearse: He is a geeeeeeeenius, and even though you can get take-out, delivery and-or do heated, covered-wagon outdoor seating, should best be appreciated within the confines of Forsythia’s limited indoor seating for cocktails and culinary treats.

Philly album to drop

Valentine’s Day just got a little sexier – and publically and charitably solvent when It comes to raising much-needed funds to keep Ortlieb’s Jazz Haus in No Libs afloat (AND HEY WHERE IS THAT CONGRESSIONAL SAVE OUR STAGES $$$? C’mon, man) – now that the Philly Holiday Album 2 is getting ready to drop, compiling the likes of Tioga, Ang Bocca, Dawn Drapes, Mo Lowda & the Humble, Nik Greeley and others, into one heart-shaped package, all for the sake of romance and cold hard cash. PHA2 drops V-day on Bandcamp. Link me, please: phillyholidayalbum.bandcamp.com.

Lanza Museum

Hey, who the hell decided to have a ceremony for ANYTHING Mario Lanza AND NOT SEND A CAR FOR ME? The 1200 block of Reed Street is now a kind of Mario Lanza Way in dedication to South Philly’s late, legendary, world-renowned opera singing film sensation, and the new home of the Mario Lanza Museum. They had a ceremony on the block Jan. 31, Lanza’s 100th birthday. NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS TOWN, LANZA-LIKE, UNLESS I’M THERE. Get it-got it-GOOD.

Uzi’s diamond 

Should we talk about how Philly low bike rider and rapper Lil Uzi Vert implanted a $24 million diamond into his forehead, a vertical bridge piercing done with a staple shaped barbell? While Uzi tweeted out that he has been paying for the stone from New York City’s Eliantte and Co. since 2017, I still have to wonder how impressive a sales force his streams must be to pay out such ducats.

Eagles fundraiser

In the only good football news that came out of the Linc and the Philadelphia Eagles camp in regard to its 2020 season, those pandemic-bound Eagles Fan Cutouts that created necessary distance between fans in the stands raised more than $260,000 in net proceeds for the Eagles Autism Foundation. According to Iggles PR guy, Anthony Bonagura, a total of 4,900-plus cutouts (printed by RICOH and installed behind the north and south end zones, along the sidelines, on the club level, and in the Red Zone Suites) were purchased by fans from all around the globe. Boo ya. 

Image | Courtesy Karl Jenkins

Masked Philly: Karl “Dice Raw” Jenkins 

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 Karl Jenkins, the longtime rapping associate of The Roots known as Dice Raw, who turned into a stage actor, playwright and activist on the social justice/prison reform tip with shows such as “The Last Jimmy” and “Henry Box Brown: A Hip Hop Musical,” both of which made their world debuts at N. Broad Street’s Freedom Theatre. Now, in a Sy Sperling-like “not-only-am-I-a-client-I’m-its-president” move, Jenkins has become Freedom Theatre’s new CEO.

“I can’t wait to dig into that,” said Dice/Karl.

Jenkins had spent a good portion of 2020’s pandemic run off the stage, and in the creation and maintenance of Freedom’s virtual online instructional and theatrical series, one that will get its debut this month. “But when I wasn’t getting ready for all things Freedom Theatre, I did like a lot of people do, and concentrated on my cooking skills,” said Jenkins, who now lives out in the Glenside area. 

“Even better than just cooking, I went out and got myself a brand new pizza oven, so that I could have fresh, doughy, crusty pizza every night.” 

That sounds like a pandemic 15 pounds in waiting, if ever there was. 

As for wearing the mask, Jenkins finds it hard spending so much time behind such face covering; “first, because I have really bad asthma, secondly, because I’m a big guy, so it’s doubly hard to breathe, and thirdly, because I always wear glasses and it rides up on my nose and hits my frames.” 

When I ask Jenkins what exact sort-of designer mask he usually wears, the rapper-writer-CEO states, “that mine is a silk-lined mask much like Queen Elizabeth of England…C’mon, A.D. I’m just wearing the most perfunctory mask I can find. I always like to look good, but a COVID mask is not something I think of when it comes to dressing up.”

For Jenkins, the mask is function, not fashion. Which makes sense considering all that he must get done, ASAP, as Freedom’s new CEO. 

And though he can’t wait for concert halls, restaurants and staged theater in Philly to open up to local audiences, Karl/Dice is currently prepping Freedom’s online entities – dramatic arts lessons, old and new stages shows, its freshly-filled gift shop – to be open for new business before February’s finale. 

“I want to bring Philly’s first and best all-African American theatre company, now celebrating its 55th anniversary, back to its former glory, and then some, into a new future with both longtime staff people here, as well as fresh faces that Philly hasn’t witnessed ever before at Freedom.”


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  • 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.

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