One lawyer who visited Jeffery Epstein in jail days before his suicide (Hey, isn’t that from “Godfather 2?”); one Montgomery County DA who declined to arrest Bill Cosby in 2005 after Andrea Constand filed her lawsuit against the Cos (hey, doesn’t that sound like something DA Krasner would do?); the men charged to lead Trump’s legal defense team in the upcoming impeachment trial: Come on down, Philly’s Bruce L. Castor and David Schoen.
If there is shiftiness to be had, the footprints of Castor and Schoen’s are muddy and still warm. And no matter if you’re on the Left, Right or what you believe in regard to a constitutional matter such as impeachment, WTF is with Trump and lawyers? Does Trump choose guys like Rudy Giuliani and Castor to make himself look less goofy or guilty? A thought. Carry on.
Let’s talk local business. The one corporate venture in Philadelphia that kept its pricey, towering Center City office space and staff intact, and even flourished during COVID quarantine; all this while other lockdowners died on the vine, vacated their downtown offices like a zombie, pencil-pushing (yeah I said “pencil”) cast of “Fear the Walking Dead,” and generally went all PPP? Comcast. Yes, its Universal theme parks and movie theater ducats declined. But – their stocks jumped high due to gaining over half a million new broadband buyers (this couldn’t have anything to do with Mother Jones’ report where Comcast employees were told to upsell internet to low-income households www.motherjones.com).
Of course, they’re set to make more money this summer now that Xfinity has created home internet data thresholds with many families losing access to free, unlimited data. (The change occurred Jan. 1, but overage fees won’t start until July) with only 1.2 terabytes of data a month. Use more than that … BOOM … $10 for every additional 50GB of data with a maximum charge of $100. DOUBLE BOOM.
And while the creepy, European Comcast division acquired the Sky multi-network, which then acquired StudioCanal film and television properties, means a run on Paddington bear ephemera across all Comcast platforms, pay special attention to Comcast’s even newer acquisition now that the ink has dried (yup, I said “ink”).
Yes, I know everyone on the stock exchange is all GameStop and AMC Reddit investor-weary, but it’s Comcast whose eyes got the biggest prize during that same bull rush: Its NBC/Universal behemoth and its new Peacock entertainment, news and sports streamer just struck a deal with World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. for exclusive rights to all WWE Network content in a five-year deal valued at $1 billion-plus. The independent WWE app shuts down. The scrawny Peacock and brawny, impossibly broad-shouldered Vince McMahon get into the skin ring together. “The Showcase of the Immortals” and “WrestleMania” both start airing on the huge digital screens inside the glass-enclosed Comcast Tower, and WWE Royal Rumblers Daniel Bryan and Charlotte Flair will soon appear on YAWWWRRRR MONNNTHLY BILLLLLLLL TO CRUSSSH YOOOUUUU WITH OVERRRRRRRRAGE CHARGES, BRUTHERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.
Calling out Kenney
I will have more to say about this. BUT – allowing Mayor Kenney to throw top-tier Police Chief Danielle Outlaw under the bus SOLELY for the responsibility of tear-gassing Black Lives Matter protesters last summer WITHOUT BEING MADE TO SPEAK TO THE CHARGES (so says the City Controller’s Office and its claims of “lack of leadership at the highest levels”) is as FUCKING TREASONOUS as Trump inciting rioters to storm the D.C. Capitol. Is anyone prepared to impeach this overflowing clown car gathering? Does anyone in Democratic or Republican city government have the stones to call out such insurrection? Let’s watch.
New Freedom Theater CEO
In short, sharp news where all things The Roots happen all the time, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson used the skills he learned in film classes at Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts for his directorial debut, the 2021 documentary, “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” which was among the openers at this week’s virtual Sundance Film Festival. (So was Southwest Philly’s Lee Daniels at Sundance for his upcoming “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” flick with cast members Andra Day and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.) Longtime, occasional Roots rapper Karl Jenkins – Dice Raw to you – who made a second career for himself as a theater playwright, actor and producer with plays such as “The Last Jimmy” and “Henry Box Brown: A Hip Hop Musical” – is now the new CEO of Philly’s legendary Freedom Theater and all of the all-Black theatricality it brings. Currently acting as a presenter, along with his crowning at Freedom Theater, Jenkins has gathered partnerships with Annenberg Theatre and Mural Arts to further Freedom’s agenda. Good on him. And great for Freedom, which has long needed a provocative push to get back to the place of promise and invention for which they have been beloved for 55 years.
To help celebrate the upcoming, extended Chinese Lunar New Year (Feb. 11-26) during the still-raging pandemic lockdown, Philadelphia’s Chowbus – which rightfully bills itself as THE sole delivery app for authentic Asian food and groceries in the area – is offering cool restaurant recommendations. Chowbus started an “Ai Love Chinatown” promotional campaign (Ai means love in Chinese) that gives money back to independent local Chinese businesses with each purchase.
Just for laughs, Philly vocalist-songwriter Frances Quinlan of always-steamy Hop Along fame, made her debut solo album, “Likewise,” last year around this time, and has returned through winter’s chill for two hot 2021 remixes from said LP: “Now That I’m Back,” with Chi-Town’s NNAMDÏ, and “Lean,” with Canadian producer Ryan “Nothing to do with THOSE Hemsworths” Hemsworth. Boing. You go, girl.
Masked Philly: Teddy Sourias
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 Teddy Sourias, the boss of the Craft Concept Group – which means he has his fingers in the pies (and bratwursts) at BRU Craft & Wurst, Tradesman’s Tinsel, Finn McCool’s, Blume, Sueno and Uptown Beer Garden.
I spoke with Sourias early on in the dreaded 2020 restaurant lockdown for a PW cover story and knew then that Sourias was crazed with figuring out how to efficiently create a curbside take-out plan from scratch. Yet, the guy was at home with a family. So what happened?
“COVID-19 has given me time to spend at home with family, which is always a beautiful thing,” said Souiras.
“My wife and I have recently become re-focused on fitness and our health, so I designed and built-out a home gym in our basement.”
Along with staying fit and getting buff, Sourias, on personal and professional levels, found that the added open time allowed him to be more creative, inventive and detailed with all projects he had going on in all areas of his life.
“Seriously, this time has been about diving deeper, going above and beyond, and working harder than ever – real opportunities for reflection and re-thinking things in progress as well as what’s coming up in my next chapter.”
That meant everything from executing a pop-up Christmas in July as well as the innovative menus for their new, Mexican-American restaurant, Sueno.
In fact, Sourias’ mask was created by one of Sueno’s employees, Esteban, for the opening of their pop-up.
“It really left a mark on my heart because Esteban did this on his own accord, with his own money, because he was so excited about what we are all working on together. It’s comfortable to wear, breathable and a great gift from a great employee. Better yet, it was an unexpected surprise and such a nice gesture I won’t ever forget.”
When (if) the masks come down, Sourias will hang onto the face covering that Esteban sewed for him “as a reminder of the struggles we faced during 2020 and 2021.” He says he’ll check on his staff, friends and family. Then, hit the road and travel.
“Each year I try to get away to recharge, spend time with those important to me. With the pandemic, this wasn’t possible. So I can’t wait to take a trip to Greece to see my family. I’m really looking forward to opening up our exclusive speakeasy that we’ve been working on for nearly two years. I’m excited for the restaurant industry to slowly, surely step back into normalcy.
“I’m excited that as we see better days ahead, a lot of the connections that were made during the pandemic can continue and even expand. Midtown Village business owners and Center City restaurateurs came together in new ways to support each other and help each other; our community grew stronger, and I hope and look forward to that continuing.”