I’ve made a decision to lay off the mess of Mayor Kenney and lean back from the clusterfuck of COVID-19 for a minute. Trust me, they’ll be here for a while.
Who I will poke fun at is Philly Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, who called the hard uptick in gun violence in this city – you know, after she made cops pretty much stand down from all manner of crime – “chilling.” Odd word, right? I mean, Stephen King’s new novellas collection “If It Bleeds” is chilling. Watching “Saw” I through VII in one weekend is chilling. The idea of dining at Black Taxi in Fairmount or Golf & Social on Del Avenue – two restaurants cited and shut down by the health department due to multiple pandemic-related violations – is chilling. Hearing clean-cut, one-time Overbrook-native Will Smith say “fuck you” to 50 Cent in response to the latter pulling the former’s chain over Jada Pinkett Smith’s admitted dalliances outside the marriage is chilling.
No, Having a reported average of 4.7 people get shot, per day, in this city is hardcore fucked-up, diabolically miserable – yet, expected. If Outlaw can’t/won’t stop kids blowing off fireworks, what makes you think you can slow the roll on gun violence? So, chilling? No.
In my time, I have written often about the always diverse and fascinating Philadelphia-area singer, songwriter and Rasta-inspired multi-instrumentalist Blayer Pointdujour in his various permutations. Maybe we lost touch on the talking tip, but works such as “Port Au Prince” and “The Villain” have remained epic. Now, as part of Rockers Galore – they’ve had a small, but sturdy series of ragga-punk releases in full-length and EP form in the last few years – Pointdujour just released an aptly titled new single, “Celebration Life.” Here’s hoping we hear more from him sooner than later.
Graber moving on
PhillyCAM’s radio station, WPPM 106.5 FM, has long been station-managed by Vanessa Maria Graber; co-founded even. Along with that prestigious gig (and radio + TV programs at PhillyCAM, including the “People Power Lunch Hour” and “Fully Baked Radio”), Graber is a community organizer, social justice advocate, and all about cannabis legalization by any means necessary. She’s a queen of all things grassroots. Now, Graber is moving on, dropping her WPPM managing gig, and heading to the Free Press as a New Jersey News Voices Manager. Brava. Vanessa will be truly missed. That said, look for PhillyCAM TV and WPPM to soon open its doors to staff – not guests – on a very limited basis starting shortly.
New Goulding album
Platinum-plated British vocalist and songwriter Ellie Goulding’s new album “Brightest Blue” – a double one at that, to be released July 17 – comes complete with odd lot producers and weird collaborators with deep Philly roots, such as avant-garde R&B master serpentwithfeet and sampladelic mix-mastering whiz Diplo. Why weird? Considering Goulding’s usual smooth operator status, this album sounds as if it is exploding her image and sound with something rougher and stranger. Cool.
Whole Foods buffets
This might seem like a minor culinary thing when it comes to the wealth and breadth of Philly’s well-heeled dining establishments. But anyone who is a fan of Whole Foods (not the goony millennial and crust punk customers, UGH, but rather the selection) knows well the multi-tray set up of hot and cold buffet tables, be it morning breakfasts, lunches and dinner entrees. Well, ever since COVID-19, the buffets have been closed, with flower arrangements in their place.
This week, however, I heard a rumor that Whole Foods will soft open the buffet section in a limited fashion, with many safety precautions beyond sneeze guards, and with way limited access – more than likely more cafeteria-style serving than the usual help yourself. It ain’t white linen, but it is something yummy of note, and, if you want something to nosh in a hurry.
New ‘Wonder Years’
Last week, I mentioned Southwest Philly native Lee Daniels producing and directing his first film in 10 years – that Billie Holiday joint – and selling it for big bucks at the Venice virtual film market. More money, more money, more money, this week, Daniels has announced that he will soon produce a reboot of “The Wonder Years” for the ABC Network, but with a Black household instead of Fred Savage en famille. A writing staff is coming together now.
Paige will be missed
Speaking of Southwest, say a prayer for the family of local Sharon Paige, a vocal legend who was forever the female presence in Philadelphia International Records signee Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and sparring partner to Teddy Pendergrass on the classic Gamble & Huff tune, “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon.” Ms. Paige passed last week. A treasure.
In the continuing Icepack weekly saga of celebrated Philadelphians having to wear masks during this, the time of coronavirus, and making the most of it is Chef Miguel Angel Hernandez Mota. This native of Veracruz, Mexico, has been working for restaurateur and daylight/nightlife entrepreneur Avram Hornik’s Four Corners for a minute, especially when it came to opening and creating mod Mex menus for Rosy’s (the old Roosevelt’s) right off Rittenhouse Square. Last week, Mota opened Juno with Hornik on Spring Garden across the street from Union Transfer.
When it came to what Mota did during C-19’s initial phases of slowdown, the chef didn’t – slow down that is – as he spent most of his time working. “I didn’t have anyone at risk at home, so I was able to work and have co-workers stay home, those who had families and those at risk. I love what I do, so, I was happy to be able to help my team at Rosy’s Taco Bar.”
Mota doesn’t really mind the masks, as he goes through so many. “This mask is a covering that we have from our friends at Tito’s” (the locally-based vodka distiller). “They need to be able to stay up when we’re moving around, so a bandana works well too since I can make it tight. The good thing about the mask is that it keeps me from eating too many tortas during work.”
The one thing the chef truly misses, and the first thing that Mota will do when masks come off, is sing in his church.
“I miss that so much,” Mota exclaimed. “Church is such a big part of my life. I sing and pray at home, but there is something special about the community that churches make you feel. I miss that community and raising my voice up. Until then, I am excited to be behind the stove at Juno on Spring Garden. I’ve trained under some great chefs and have been preparing for this day for many years. I’m excited to take my skills and get the chance to add my personal touches. Mexican cuisine is what I grew up with. This is a great opportunity to show my talents and introduce new audiences to my cooking.