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Icepack | Feb. 25-March 4

Groundhog grumblings: All hell opens up every year after the rodent’s big day

groundhog
Image: Mona El Falaky

Have you ever noticed that once Groundhog’s Day occurs, forever right on Philly’s doorstep in Punxsutawney, that all hell opens up, and the news cycle becomes a ginned-up mess of celebrity blather, wonton guesswork, off-kilter virus reporting and a bloodlusty level of hate for Howie Roseman?

Yes. Every year. 

Another major news story on the guessing game of whether or not big, live concerts will resume in 2021 is as good (or as wrong) as imagining how plums could replace rubber in the manufacturing of tires. Hearing Kate Winslet grouse about wanting to “throw things” in reaction to her having to find her Delco accent while in town filming HBO’s “Mare of Eastown?” Imagine how the citizenry of Delco must feel, having that accent ALL THE TIME. 

Going on and on about Mayor Kenney not wanting to activate Lincoln Financial Field as a vaccination site with a not-so-spy-riffic file name (“Operation Philly Special?”), despite City Council passing a near-unanimous resolution calling on such? Who is surprised by this mayor’s nyah-nyah-ing, “No, I just don’t want to” vibe, the same psychic self-resolution he’s had on local rabid/rampant gun violence, the same juke-and-jiving move that he softened, a smidge, then used on poor hunger-striking veteran Jamal Johnson, a man who just wanted real answers to a horrible situation plaguing his city, only to get a mayor in a George Constanza-like puffy coat, a photo op, and a blank, cold ‘thanks for coming,’ response. (By the way, seeing that Sta-Puf coat on Kenney badly blew my mind, in a way similar to when I spied the mayor, during his first term, backstage at Made in America wearing a Bob Marley “ganja” T-shirt and no jacket. I COULDN’T GET DRUNK OR HIGH ENOUGH THAT AFTERNOON TO LOSE THAT VISION, AND STILL HOLD THAT FLASH OF HORROR, THAT MISERABLE SIGHT MEMORY, TIGHT TO MY RETINAS DAILY.) 

And the trash that is the lame-ass Carson Wentz trade, the Eagles front office making a failed hostage negotiation deal with a guy who should’ve been handed his hat with much hurry two seasons ago? 

All this, and our poor groundhog should never come out of his/her/their hole if this is how his neighboring town conducts its business.

A literal police coverup 

While I’m at it, my new, least favorite politico in Philly, besides Larry Krasner, is literally beside Larry Krasner: the DA’s spokesperson, Jane Roh, who dis-dogged FOP President John McNesby and FOP spokesperson Mike Neilon on Twitter for questioning why the Wall of Remembrance plaques in the District Attorney’s office, dedicated to fallen Philly police officers, was covered by a press op tarp. Ralph “Big Trial.Net” Cipriano got to this before all of us, so big ups. We’re watching Ms. Roh (rhymes with Homer Simpson’s “Doh”) exploits from here on out.

C’mon, Meek

Before I get out of this loud and lousy mood altogether, Meek Mill. You know I love and respect Millie from Philly. He’s been an Icepack highlight many, many times, and I always look forward to seeing him on Clubhouse. But – the doghouse is more for Millie for the moment, what with the leak of “Don’t Worry (RIP Kobe)” and his “Yeah, and if I ever lack, I’m goin’ out with my chopper, it be another Kobe,” verse.

He’s tried to make up for it with a pic of one of his Dreamchasers caps honoring Philly’s Bryant and his daughter Gianna who were killed in a helicopter crash a little over a year ago last January, but still…c’mon, man. That said, Meek’s a b-ball fanatic (ask Michael Rubin) so, let’s let cooler heads prevail, and everybody pause for a beat.

South Street sale?

Say it ain’t so: After the sudden passing of its owner, avatar KeVen L. Parker, Ms. Tootsie’s on South Street is going up for sale?

Return of the Sandman?

Let’s shift the mood for some good news, now. While Adam Sandler has been making news by celebrating the 25th anniversary of his golf comedy, “Happy Gilmore,” with new YouTubes on the links, and challenges to his fellow golfers to follow that slamming swing, bigger rumor has the Sandman returning to Philly when the warm weather breaks to wrap completion shots for his Netflix comedy co-produced by LeBron James, “Hustle.” Philly fans will recall that, when he wasn’t busy buying up every six-string at every guitar store in town last winter, Sandler was filming his basketball agent flick in the Italian Market, nearby 15th and Market, and more.

New role for Eve

Better news, even: Speaking of filming, Philly’s own mistress of the Ruff Ryders crew, Eve – whom we simply do not see enough of, whether its film, television or recordings, all platinum-plated – will start shooting the ABC hip hop drama pilot “Queens.” She’s set to play a 40-something, one-time, ‘90s hip hop, girl group sensation (the Nasty Bitches, with her name being “Professor Sex”) getting a second shot at fame in the 2020s. The best part? She’s writing and recording new music for the “Queens.” Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. 

The Horse is no more

Not as a student, but as an occasional lecturer, nothing was more satisfying to me as yelling at Temple U journalism students and then heading to The Draught Horse Pub & Grill for a beer. A good beer. Well, that’s over. On the heels of the Horse’s 20th anniversary, the oldest standing campus saloon closed as the bar building’s university-owned lease expired. While you can buy bits-and-pieces of Draught Horse ephemera, I’m going to have to start filling flasks again to teach these Temple kids. Journalism is hard, and works up a sweat every time.

Image: Courtesy of Matt Pfeiffer

Masked Philly: Matt Pfeiffer 

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 Matt Pfeiffer, Philadelphia stage actor, writer, director, teacher, expert, Theatre Exile’s Artistic Advisor and Artist in Residence, the director of its currently running virtual social media-centric drama, “Sin Eaters” (until February), cinephile, and pleasantly crabby local sports fanatic.

Pfeiffer misses local theater’s live vibes at least as much as everyone. Maybe more so, as he is so deeply ingrained in each, any and every aspect of the stage. Yet, it’s not as if he didn’t/doesn’t have something amazing to keep him busy during the pandemic’s year-long hold. 

“My wife and I had a baby in July,” said Pfeif. 

“So she’s taking most of our time during the pandemic. In some ways it’s been the one silver lining, with no work, we’ve both been able to be home with the baby. As a result, too, I’ve really built up my vinyl collection in the last eight months. The baby loves it to listen to music. So one of my retreats is to go to the basement and let the records play.”

The mask? Matt is OK with having to wear them. 

“Maybe because I’ve spent my whole life in the theater putting on silly costume pieces, it doesn’t bother me that much to wear the masks,” he said. 

“Dealing with my fogged up glasses is a pain, but other than that it’s fine. I’ve used masks made by costume designer Jill Keys and by stage manager Kate Fossner.”

Ask Pfeiffer if there’s anything that he’s eager to do freely when the masks can come down, and he stated, pragmatically, that he doesn’t feel that anxious about the masks to begin with. 

“Almost everything I wanna go do, I could wear a mask for. I’m desperate to go to a Sixers game. Having watched most of Iverson’s MVP season in person, it’s killing me to miss Embiid right now. But I’d happily wear a mask to do that.”

Along with directing Theatre Exile’s virtual world premiere version of playwright Anna Moench’s “Sin Eaters” with Bi Jean Ngo and David M. Raine from the couple’s home, (tix here, on demand until Feb. 28), Pfeiffer has many things in the works, but nothing definite, just yet, due to the what-what of COVID-19 staging. 

“I’m hoping to be doing a production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. It got canceled last year, and we’re hoping to go outside to do it this summer.”

@ADAMOROSI

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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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