Icepack | Feb. 20-27

Sixers guard Ben Simmons lost the NBA All-Star game but won on Valentine's Day

Ben Simmons lost the NBA All-Star game but was a big winner on Valentine’s Day. That, the new boss of the P&P and music news in this week’s Icepack. | Image: Wikicommons

In September 2019, when I crosscut the opening of City Winery Philadelphia, the 15th anniversary celebration of World Café Live and their potential battle for adult live listening audiences in a cover story for PW, I asked World Café Live’s Hal Real about a rumor that his venue was going not-for-profit, that, as one of fleeting few independent live stages in the city (not Live Nation or AEG), surviving otherwise might be futile.

Real couldn’t/wouldn’t say then, but promised that great innovative things were afoot for WCL and his nonprofit music educational program, Live Connections. What that means in the present is that Real has turned both of his ventures nonprofit with the club owned by Live Connections, but known as a combined enterprise called World Cafe Live with the club’s schedule – ticketed and free shows by the hundreds – business as usual. 

New legend at P&P

Here’s a rumor I’m confirming closer to the bone. Like now. When Dan Kenney, the longtime bartender and general manager at Philly’s private oasis for journalists and after-hours hot dog water haven the Pen and Pencil Club, died on Christmas Day 2019, the club’s board of governors lost a treasure. They couldn’t replace a legend. 

They did, however, find a different legend to manage the P&P going forward: Raphael Tiberino. Rumors went up a minute ago that this member of the West Philadelphia museum family, a mosaicist and illustrator in his own right, and a one-time bartender at the Troc, was up for the P&P GM job, And so he is. Huzzah. Next week, I’ll have news as to who won this week’s board members election at P&P. If memory serves and the liquor holds out, the blurry-eyeds might even know for sure until next Monday

New Tim & Eric show

No sooner than Temple U grads and Philly’s most avant-garde comedian expatriates Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim – Tim & Eric – left The Met stage, fresh from their “Tim & Eric Mandatory Attendance Tour” date last week, they’re dropping trailers for their up-coming new television. Again on Adult Swim, the new “Beef House” multi-cam sit-com debuts March 29 at 12:15 a.m., and co-stars the pair with Jamie-Lynn Sigler of HBO “The Sopranos” and “Entourage” fame.

Gritty on HBO

HBO was also the home to this week’s most tortuously funny Philly comment about the Broad Street Bullies’ Gritty. This Week Tonight with John Oliver’s return to air, after three months away, featured a comment on the Flyers’ mascot getting off from assault charges, scot-free, as a “nipples…on a plate of curdled milk” and more. Welcome back.

Le Virtù’s executive chef Damon Menapace is leaving to become the culinary director of butcher Heather Thomason’s Primal Supply Meats. | Image provided

Meat-go-round

We love a meat-go-round. The last time I mentioned the crew at East Passyunk’s Le Virtù in Icepack, they were upset that their sandwich-making neighbor, D’Emilio’s Old World Ice Treats, had asked V’s old chef,  Joe Cicala for a sandwich for Chris D’Emilio’s then-new menu. Awkward, right? 

Now, Le Virtù’s current exec chef Damon Menapace is leaving soon to become the culinary director of butcher Heather Thomason’s Primal Supply Meats down the block, as well as for her new HQ in Brewerytown. No one should despair for Le Virtù, however, as word on the butcher block has their chef Apolinar Sanchez moving into an executive role with salumi wizard Massimo Conocchioli coming back to consult. 

Speaking of meat, and before your arteries harden, I have a game for you. Over the weekend, Philly’s Inquirer reported that the November 2019 death of old world steakhouse chain overlord, Prime Rib founder C.P. Beler somehow meant that the Philly outlet, 22 years on from its Warwick Hotel opening, had dropped the “Prime Rib” moniker and had its presence scrubbed from its corporate website. For the moment, Philly’s Garth Weldon – an elegant man who makes certain that his onyx-toned restaurant always has a jazz piano trio and a stiff martini at hand – is using his steak spot’s address, 1701 Locust, as his beef boite’s name for now. This, however, will not stand. Not for me, man. So, I’m imploring you to send me some potential, imaginative, kind names (no meat dick or big beef jokes, please) for Weldon’s steak space along Parc/Via Locusta drive, and to make it quick. He’s got a chilled martini waiting for me at the bar, and a bracing icy vodka as such is no good to me when warmer.

New music 

While you were sleeping, North Philly’s Brewerytown Record’s Max Ochester and co-producer Aaron Levinson held a surprise live jam unveiling of Philly’s soul-funk outfit, York Street Hustle, and its debut EP, “Cruelty,” – WAIT – in Wayne, PA? WTF. The disc’s live gig preview party was at the very respectable and deeply groovy 118 North, but, still, man. Get me something closer and QUICK. This “Cruelty” is very kind to the ear. 

WHOWHATWHERE 

You know how to be a couple and avoid the hassle of Valentine’s Day? Go out the night before. That’s what the Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons – who did a handsome job when he and fellow Sizers teammate Joel Embiid showed up at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, to the point that Simmons should’ve won the newly named Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP Award – and his gal pal Kendall Jenner did by dining at Wm. Mulherin’s right before V-Day. They, like my crew, dig the Double Margherita Pizza.

Boyz II Men recently made a $110,000 donation to the School District of Philadelphia to support music in schools. | Image courtesy: Live Nation Philadelphia

Boyz II Men popped into The Met for Valentine’s Day, did the local loving “Motownphilly” thing, hung out with the Live Nation crew and venue co-boss Reverend Mark Hatcher from Holy Ghost Ministries, and, en masse, made a $110,000 donation to the School District of Philadelphia to support music in schools – all with one of those giant, life-sized checks. Remember, Boyz II Men attended the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts as teens, and this gig was their second sold-out show, at the Met since the venue opened in December 2018.

  • 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.