Me. Me. Me. Us. Us. Us. Philly. Philly. Philly.
Let’s move from our weekly, masturbatory, self-focused navel gazing and Michael van der Veen’s dumb new name for us (“Phileeeeeedelphia?” Wha?) shall we? Into something broader and bigger than those of us between Port Fishington and the Devil’s Pocket usually account for: Pennsylvania. Home to the Farm Show and its fiberglass cow sculptures, the Hi-Hat, The Patriot-News, WHBG-TV, the Harrisburg Lunatics inline hockey squad, and our gubernatorial seat of power and Tom Wolf.
Yup. Not since Milton Shapp have I wanted to psychically nose tweak a sitting governor (or a standing one for that matter) for the multitude of stupid things they execute on a regular basis (and yes, this includes sinister Tom Corbett’s way-too-close proximity to Penn State and all cloistered things Sandusky). Yes. Wolf, like Philly’s boss Jim Kenney, has made a fucking mess out of the pandemic, from who gets the vaccine first, and where, and when (to say nothing of Jimbo’s recent pricey HVAC plans making indoor dining percentages way more difficult to up).
Over the weekend, however, Wolf’s Department of Health announced its truly specious plans to strip primary care providers from the list of those permitted to administer the COVID-19 vaccine (to under 300 providers). Meaning? It just got a lot harder for those most vulnerable to the still-shifting virus’ ills to get their necessary shots. I’m neither a doctor, nor a governor, but wouldn’t it make more sense to open up all available resources and abilities to provide vaccination for all to as many medical professionals as possible? Watching the Wolf and his administration offer less public medical help at a time when so much more is needed is like offering a paper napkin to a guy who needs a coat. Fetterman. Get the Wolf in order. Do not be deterred by Brian Sims just-announced run for lieutenant governor. Do it.
New Meek music
When Philly rapper and prison reformer Meek Mill isn’t busy trading barbs and near fisticuffs with nemesis/long time beefer/rat Tekashi 6ix9ine outside a club in Atlanta, he’s busy dropping new collabs with pal Young Thug, “That Go!” No word on whether this is-was-would be the fresh tracks that Millie referred to on Instagram several weeks ago, but it’s a decent start of new music for a still young year.
Bridget Foy is back
“After three years of demolition and construction, pandemic delays of nearly a year, two dining shut-downs, one outdoor temporary pop-up in a giant snow storm – and now the return of indoor dining at 50 percent capacity – the Foy family will unveil the new Bridget Foy’s ahead of the weekend’s first dinner service,” went the PR statement for what turned out to the first bite of dining at the corner of 2nd and South since 2017, after a two-alarm blaze ripped through the Foy and sent it into cinders. Right before the pre V-Day ice storm, local politicos Nikil Saval, Sheila Hess, Mary Isaacson, Mark Squilla, and South Street Headhouse District exec Michael Harris joined Bridget Foy and husband Paul Rodriguez and John and Bernadette Foy for the socially distanced ribbon cutting for the newly expanded Bridget Foy. Anyone who has treasured B-Foy forever (well since 1978, level forever), as a restaurant respite, as a cultural landmark, or just as someplace to eat on South Street’s lower half that isn’t merely fries, burgers and cheesesteaks can relax and rejoice.
Big ups to local artist and photographer Quil Lemons who, with his colorful capture of dark popstar Billie Eilish, becomes the youngest photog ever to shoot a Vanity Fair cover, and possibly the only person from South Philly to ever come this-close to an issue of VF.
Don’t move the Turf Club
Why? Because in South Philly, weeee (yes WEEEE) are normally too friggin’ busy fighting off corporate casino types (e.g. Parx Casino and Racing, owners of everyone’s longtime seedy fave, the off-track Turf Club, now a neighbor of Live! Casino), who want to move da Turf Club’s operations to Chickie’s & Pete’s on the 1500 block of Packer Ave. – right next to the fucking crab fries. We don’t have TIME FOR VANITY FAIR. THAT’s RIGHT. Packer Ave. neighbors don’t want gaming at the same place they get their Meatball Salads or Pete-ZZA. So don’t do it, Parx. Stay where you’re at on North Delaware Avenue, keep South Philly’s Turf Club what it is – a frightening-by-nightfall but still safe haven, circa 1981, for DiNoble chomping guys in Members Only jackets and the women who love them, and leave Chickie’s to its own devices such as Lisa’s Blonde Lobster Pie™. AND I’M NOT KIDDING.
Lee Daniels has been busy
Along with dropping his “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” film – Feb. 26 on small screens (Hulu) and big (if you dare), Southwest Philly native director, writer, producer Lee Daniels just scored a pilot order for his Black family version of “The Wonder Years” AND a series based on the Toni Morrison book and film “Waiting to Exhale,” both at ABC Television, as well as a pilot for “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” a story about the first Black spy in the CIA, for FX. All this precludes his still-in-progress Sammy Davis Jr. bio-series at Hulu, a sitcom titled “Ms. Pat” for the new BET+, his series with Karin Gist “Our Kind of People” for Fox Entertainment based on author Lawrence Otis Graham’s Martha’s Vineyards-centered book “Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class.” Plus, don’t forget the Daniels produced, North Philly shot Idris Elba movie “Concrete Cowboy” that Netflix will release later in 2021.
Masked Philly: Bruce Klauber
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 Bruce Klauber. For the informed, and uninformed, Klauber has long been something of a multi-purpose jazz-bo, a drummer of great force and subtle dynamics (for the likes of Anita O’Day and Charlie Ventura in their time) who advised the makers of the film “Whiplash” on such matters when he wasn’t busy jamming with Philly’s All-Star Jazz Trio; a record producer; a publicist; the author of such books as “Reminiscing in Tempo: Farewells and Recollections of Showbiz, Jazz, and Drums,” and “World of Gene Krupa: That Legendary Drummin’ Man”; the writer and producer of Warner Brothers “Jazz Legends” DVD series; plus, he looks good in a turtleneck – no easy task.
Like many musicians who gig regularly, Klauber was sidelined by the pandemic’s lockdown. But, making sweet lemonade from the sourest of lemons, the drummer has done everything from “caught up on the many years of films and television shows that I’ve missed through the years because I never had the time to watch anything besides ‘The Gene Krupa Story’ and ‘The Nutty Professor’ with Jerry Lewis,’” until now (from 2012’s “Magic City” to “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” to “Sylvie’s Love”) to devoting some real time to his lifelong hobby of playing alto saxophone.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I’m almost not annoying. Ask anyone.”
The mask? He knows it’s a necessity, but absolutely can’t stand it.
“I hate everything about it, including the way it looks, the way it restricts everything from breathing to talking to singing to being, the way it’s become politicized, and the very fact that we have even gotten to the point where we have to wear such a thing. What in hell has happened here?”
What is he most looking forward to doing freely when the masks can come down?
“To go back to being the charming, swell guy known as Bruce Klauber.”
Until then, we can look forward to many many things Klauber:
“I’ve gotten heavily into the streaming thing with our All-Star Jazz Trio and Mary Ellen Desmond at Chris’ Jazz Cafe’s site (chrisjazzcafe.com). I’ve done my Sinatra singing thing at The Kelly Center in Haverford (youtube.com), and continue to promote Eddie Bruce’s streaming shows, broadcasting weekly for almost a year (youtube.com/user/eddiebrucemusic). On the publishing side, I’m promoting a new book of poems written through the years by the late drummer Louie Bellson (‘The Poetic Thoughts and Verses of Louie Bellson’). I loved Louie. He was spiritual before spirituality was a business. Then there’s the new Charlie Ventura CD I produced for Jasmine Records on the legendary Philly saxophonist. (‘Adventure with Charlie’). Bottom line: I’m still here and I’m still swinging.”