Between the after-midnight removal of his statue fronting the Municipal Services Building and the early Sunday morning paint-over of his Italian Market mural, Frank Rizzo is erased from Philly’s collective memory.
Even if you were too young to have said memory, or from out of town, Rizzo is zip GONE. Fair enough – any brand of aggressive oppression to the most vulnerable members of our community pays the price, a muscle memory that should be deleted.
That said, while we’ve heard nothing about a replacement statue for the steps of the city’s JFK Blvd. property (I’d go for a Broad Street Bullies statue of the Stanley Cup-victorious Philadelphia Flyers of 1973-74 and 1974-75, but that might be too violent AND promote bad dental habits with all those missing teeth), Italian Market officials have said the Rizzo mural’s now-blank canvas will be filled by something that “better represents the fabric” of the area. As that area HAPPENS to be my area, I’ve wracked my brain thinking of what could promote the region and the values of South Philly, old and new. I came up with a few ideas.
A mural of native son, one-time state Sen. Vince Fumo, and the words he dropped on Facebook last week in response to Mayor Kenney’s removal of the Frank Rizzo statue. Famously an opponent of Frank’s, (“the only South Philadelphia Italian elected official to ever oppose (Rizzo)” he wrote), Fumo called out his one-time protégé Kenney for initially supporting the statue’s erection (hey, that doesn’t sound quite right), then tearing it down under the cover of night, “because you are a pussy and could not do it during the day.”
A mural of DiBruno Bros – the gourmet cheesery that started on Ninth Street over 75 years ago – for pissing off its employees for feeding cops free lunches during Philly’s BLM protests, rescinding that offer for freebies, and, as a result, pissing off the cops.
The dressed-in-black, AK-toting folk from Ingage Security, the Kensington-based firm hired by Italian Market merchants to safeguard vegetables and Kenneth Rexroth poetry books at Molly’s.
I was THISCLOSE to suggesting that Pennsylvania’s 1st District incumbent senator for South Philly, Larry Farnese, get the Italian Market mural, but it looks as if he got his ass handed to him by progressive challenger Nikil Saval. No mural for you, Lar. I know. Wait for the precincts and the mail-ins. Got it. Same too with Pennsylvania’s 182nd District Rep., incumbent Brian Sims – angry at coronavirus-having Republicans Brian Sims – whose domain includes Midtown/the Gayborhood, Washington Square West, Bella Vista, Queen Village and Hawthorne. Sims too gets no mural as he lost to Democratic challenger Marisa Shaaban. Saying.
Digital global orchestra
Philly pianist, singer and composer Melody Gardot has been something of an expat of late: quarantining in Paris, working on a Zoom initiative to keep session players working during C-19 with a “digital global orchestra” where selected musicians – paid as if they were in the studio – contribute to a new track (via melodygardot.com for musical charts, backing tracks and instructions with which to record and film themselves performing the piece at home) that itself will serve for charitable donations to musician charities.
When it comes to Philadelphia’s black-owned restaurants and live music spaces, the Bynum Brothers have forever led the way with the jazz-flavored likes of Zanzibar Blue (past) South (present) to say nothing of Relish and Green Soul. Brothers Robert and Benjamin take after their parents, Benjamin and Ruth Bynum, and owned Broad Street’s Club Impulse and The Cadillac Club in North Philly where Aretha Franklin ruled, and Billy Paul made his live, debut album.
Who could forget, then, Warmdaddy’s the B-Brother’s Del Ave blues-gospel-R&B soul food eater/ live venue? To celebrate 25 years of W-Daddy, Harrison Graham Hayman IV, the Bynums’ longtime consigliere, claims the hashtag #WDS25, and says from June 11 to June 14, Warmdaddys has “dinner for 2, 25 bucks in honor of 25 years in business.” Sounds as righteous and tasty as it is soulful. Check warmdaddys.com as to how this applies to take-out, etc.
The Meek Mill/Tekashi 6ix9ine feud continues this week with 6 dissing Millie on Instagram (“If Kanye who is way more famous then all these rappers is outside protesting, why is the wannabe Martin Luther King not but has no problem dropping a song during times like this to capitalize?” The new Meek BLM protest song, “Otherside Of America,” gets a double-dose of Philly with CNN’s Michael Smerconish on the track.
What have we learned since the Philly-shot “Queer Eye” season 5, now on Netflix in full, moved on? That their “hero,” Marcos’ Fish & Crab House’s Marcos Tlacopilco, who took over George’s Famous Roast Pork and Beef at 1007 S. 9th Street for a fish restaurant, Alma del Mar? That he’s changed the black wall that QE Bobby Berk painted to green, and that breakfast, not dinner, will be its focus, opening soon. Plus, they’re doing a bunch of stuff with tile (a mural-mosaic?) in the recently-vacant space next door.
Last weekend, however, Gardot became the first musician to hold a recording session at London’s Abbey Road since C-19, and with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, whose first time reuniting since the lockdown came through Melody. To be clear, she was still in France during the London Abbey Road sessions, and her producer, Larry Klein, was in LA. Such is the magic of technology, a wondrous thing, that she could sing and record at the hall the Beatles made famous while puttering around Paris.
Philly comedians Doogie Horner (OK, the author-graphic artist actually moved to NYC, but he’s still here more than he is there, so….), Chip Chantry, Darryl Charles and Reven MacQueen still aren’t getting any stage time in C-19 Code Yellow. To quell the need for jokes – for themselves and their fans – they joined forces with fellow standups in Portland, Ore., Raleigh and St. Louis over Zoom to write, rehearse and record the sketch comic Helium Comedy Club Presents label effort, “Mouth.” MacQueen thought up the idea, got comics to record their bits individually at home before sending them off to be edited and mixed at Listless Sound in Raleigh, NC, and the whole package comes out June 26.
This week’s PW-A.D. cover is dedicated to the potential loss of face, prestige and aesthetic worth that goes with any potential defunding of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. Without the GPFO, I couldn’t write that the low-budget flick Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos,” “Goodfellas”) filmed in Philly last year under the El, near Temple U, and in Fishtown, “Between the Wars,” is now streaming.
Plus, in case you missed it in my film/arts/budget cover, Philly’s Jeremiah Zagar, the scion of Magic Gardens creator Isaiah Zagar and Eyes Gallery curator Julia Zagar, is set to direct “Hustle” for Netflix with Adam Sandler and co-producer LeBron James in Philly in the fall. Jeremiah Z is previously responsible for the wrenching autobiographical Zagar family “In a Dream” from 2008, as well as directing 2018’s “We the Animals” with Raúl Castillo. I need to talk to him about how he got chosen for a basketball scout dramedy on the basis of those two spectrally dramatic flicks. That story alone has to be worth its own film.