Don’t hold me to this, but, I’m almost certain I started my weekly Icepack column for City Paper near the end of 1989.
The column, then, was meant to be snarky, a not-so-politically correct look at what was happening – or what could happen – in this city according to rumor, want, innuendo, gossip, rant and all-around babble I picked up on, made up, and-or formed very definite opinions thereof.
Icepack caused trouble for many, good for others, and lots of red faces from where my victims got slapped or embarrassed or made to cry in the rain.
But – and this was the main thing – Icepack was always meant to bring joy, have fun with the news and conjecture of Philly’s social, artistic, political, entrepreneurial and culinary scenes and scenesters. It was made to make stars out of deserving people not-so-near to the limelight, and, yes, dim a few bright bulbs too.
That stayed the focus of Icepack until 2014, when I moved the column to Metro Philadelphia right before that chain bought up City Paper, only to sell it after a year to Broad Street Media (who owned Philadelphia Weekly in 2015), who then, summarily, ended CP.
If I dare say so, there was nothing exactly like Icepack. It was, — in my biased opinion — the coolest column for said news and conjecture – and it was all mine. That must be true of the present as well, since Philadelphia Weekly invited me to bring Icepack back.
They wanted something that spoke directly to you, of you.
Make no mistake. It’s a different time now than then. On the downside, there’s more snowflakes out there ready to jump on the counterculture bandwagon. There’s also less name-above-the-title people out there getting drunk and snorting lines in public, or making fools of themselves while out-and-about – “The Lampshade on the Head” phenomenon.
Plus, snark, that glorious blend of sarcasm and cynicism, is passé, so last century – unless you mold it just right.
On the upside, there’s more people giving it a go in regard to new theater companies or casting opportunities (same with locally filmed flicks), opening new restaurants or finding fresh house parties for your band to play or for you and your DJ to rap. Plus, everyone is so self-obsessed that they pretty much make fun of themselves with every selfie. Why snark when someone else does the work for you?
Just know, I’ll be watching either way.
So enjoy Icepack. Think of it as an old friend and for you, New Philadelphia, a fresh-faced homie. If you have a tip or something wise or stupid to say, feel free to email, or @ me on Twitter.
With that all said, here are some hits:
East Passyunk Avenue’s favorite Abruzzo restaurant, Le Virtu, is facing weirdness. First, they announced a sell-off of their 5-year-old Neapolitan eatery, Brigantessa, last week to one-time Jean George chefs Scott Calhoun and David Feola for what is being reported as a new snout-to-tail restaurant and bar, Ember & Ash.
Personally, I think Neb & Ass would’ve been funnier, but it’s not like Calhoun and Feola are a comedy team. I digress.
Brigantessa’s last day is New Year’s Eve, and it’s a shame to see it go as – whether with its original third partner, chef Joe Cicala, or not – the Brig served a mean mortadella calzone and a swell late night Amari. Cicala? That reminds me. Even though Joe traded East Passyunk for North Broad and the Divine Lorraine with his self-named restaurant, Cicala casts a long shadow on the South Philly block.
When Chris D’Emilio opened D’Emilio’s Old World Ice Treats near Le Virtu, serving sorbet and Italian sandwiches designed by Philly friend-chefs a la Marc Vetri and Jeff Michaud, he asked Joe Cicala for a sandwich: La Calabria with ‘Nduja — a spreadable pork salume Joe serves at his new Cicala at Divine Lorraine — caramelized red onion jam, and provola piccante cheese. Great, right?
Not to Le Virtu peeps where Cicale once did his chef thing with and with whom bad blood was spilled. Rumor has it Le Virtu, perhaps spooked by the ghost of Cicala, bugged D’Emilio to take the Cicala sandwich off its menu for a matter of good neighbor relations, and they did.
Yeah, I’m gonna miss that sandwich. Then again, Le Virtu grills up a mean Brodetto, so it’s “mezza dozzina di uno e sei dell’altro.”
Mike Vick: Still a dirty dog?
My inbox has been loaded with Change.org petitions asking that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell not honor one-time Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick at January 2020’s Pro Bowl with an honorary captain position.
Why not? Dogfighting.
The motherfucker Vick led a dogfighting ring when he had the money and the options to do something truly worthwhile during his career, like self-immolation. And yet Goodell remains steadfast in his loyalty to Vick and his gift of this public honor. Goodell pretty much threw Colin Kaepernick under a bus FOREVER for not signing a waiver that would’ve covered his ass and everyone else’s connected to that recent NFL tryout debacle (leaving only Jay-Z with egg on his face).
But the commish is cool with Vick killing perfectly healthy dogs for bloodsport just because the former Eagle said he was really, really sorry — oh, and gave money and time to the Humane Society?
“Every individual reading should buy the NFL Commish the cutest puppy ever, and send it to him in time for Christmas.”
I’m not looking for Goodell’s job to be lost or vengeance to be had. That’s exactly the shit I’m against. I do however think that every individual reading should buy Goddell the cutest puppy ever, and send it to him in time for Christmas. If you have time to knit green Eagles sweaters with No. 7s on them — Vick’s old number — better still.
WHO, WHAT, WHERE: In Jason Segel/AMC/Dispatches from Elsewhere all-over-Philly fashion, HBO’s newest face, Kate Winslet, has been filming “Mare of Easttown” in Coatesville and Phoenixville since October, but got caught dining in Philly in December, so far, with stops as Vedge and HipCityVeg. What, no V Marks the Shop? Plus, we have friends who spied her strolling the length and breadth of Love Park’s Christmas Village, which is downright seasonal … Before playing his Dec. 28, “TrapStar” showcase at The Met, Philly rapper-crooner PnB Rock celebrated his 28th birthday at Lucky Strike on Dec. 9. Accompanied by fam and friends, the Rocks spent several hours bowling and noshing.