You want to know why I know that this is the first truly “nice” (and I mean weather, not any brand of overt civility) week in Philly, beyond local newscasters saluting the warmth and the sunshine repeatedly?
Because I came into this week hammered over the head, NOT with reports of local, COVID-concerned teachers frightened of their sticky, disease-ridden classrooms (I have visions of mask-less students swarming Purell wipes-toting instructors like the black & white, 1968 version of “Night of the Living Dead”); and NOT the still under-reported word that Philly’s Rite Aids supposedly doled out 21 Philly vaccine doses to Caucasian folk for every single shot it gave to a Black person (Rite Aid being the alternative to CVS’ endlessly long receipts); and NOT Mayor Sweater Vest’s Galaxy Quest-like Transit Plan: A Vision for 2045 for SEPTA or his self-generated survey for the locals to partake in his April budget proposals to Philly City Council for 2022 (doing his job is tempting as he doesn’t seem to be doing it, but, nahhhhhhhhhhhhh).
The state of “nice” in Philly comes from the fact that my press inbox from Phila.gov has been laced, as of late, with “reports” about turtles and plastic bags. First, Philly’s health department wanted me to warn you against purchasing pet turtles from “roadside vendors” due to an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium. OK. Sal-Typh is bad, no doubt. Real bad. Killer bad. But, two things here: What the fuck is a roadside vendor in 2021? What am I, a Joad in Nomadland? Secondly, those poor, defenseless, tiny turtles forced to exist by poking their head over the littlest amount of often dirty water, just for the littlest of breaths, is cruelty to animals. Seriously. Why hasn’t PETA been in on the wronged turtle case long before Philly or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control? (Imagine if I put you in a dunk tank with only the narrowest margin of time with your head above water, fuck. Now tell me you’re only worried about catching their disease as opposed to also saving them).
Then there’s the City of Philadelphia, joined by the City of West Chester, the Township of Lower Merion, and the Borough of Narberth, proactively litigating to assert their right to enact and enforce plastic bag legislation.
“We face a state legislature that is focused more on tying the hands of cities and towns than on solving the actual problems facing Pennsylvania,” wrote Mayor Warm-n-Wooly Cardigan about the so-called ills of plastic bags. One. Fuck West Chester, Lower Merion and Narberth. Keep it to yourself, Narrrrberrrrrrrrth, famous for nothing. Two. We need the plastic bags, Jimbo. You’re worried about disease from turtles, but what, not from the dog feces no one will pick up if they don’t have plastic bags? Next up, next week, we’ll talk all about how everyone in Upper Merion and East Norriton are playing the low pressure, low expectation-having sport of Pickleball. WTF, right? Hey, at least it isn’t Narberth.
Why not Vega for DA?
Surprised, but not surprised: As much as I respect the fact that the progressive leadership of Reclaim Philadelphia sprung from the loins of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, AND wanted to get this town to divest itself, wholesale, from Wells Fargo Bank, I think they missed the mark in dissing Carlos Vega in his upcoming progressive reform challenge to District Attorney Larry Krasner in the May 18 Democratic primary over the weekend. With roots in organizing Krasner’s DA November 2017 campaign, not buying into Vega’s appeal is hardly a shock. They see Carlos as a part of the old school. I disagree. But, thinking of myself as a progressive, who also wants to feel safe, and get gun crimes prosecuted – somebody who knows that Larry has been ineffective at his job in every way – these things are not mutually exclusive.
‘Last Call’ coming out
OK, how about I get unserious fast to remind you that “Last Call” – that comedy flick written and produced by Main Line real estate developer Greg Lingo about Callahan’s Tavern in Upper Darby that I wrote about years ago as being titled, “Crabs in a Bucket,” and starring U-Darb native Jamie Kennedy and Jeremy Piven – is coming out on March 19 through IFC Films. Hey, at least it isn’t about Narberth.
Refresher for a.bar
Everybody needs a refresher, now and then. Take the a.bar, the Rittenhouse region’s noir-est of tony noir salon saloons. Now, it’s a.bar + bottles, and filled with the sights of take-away cocktails and carry-out glass totems to natural wine, as well as the smell of homemade biscuits. a. probably had to install more lights to see things brighter beyond its usual night vision-only vibe, but, hey, with any good refreshing, there’s a give and take.
New Sixers song
“Sixers.” No, it doesn’t have anything to do with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid blowing their NBA All-Star Game slots at the last minute due to cozying up to a COVID-laced barbershop. It’s a song I slept on for a second (my bad) from local groove merchant and hardcore punk sampler Old City, whose eponymously-titled EP is out now, and whose sketchy cartoon video for “Sixers” is out now, and on youtube.com.
COVID dollars for locals
By the way of local concert venues and restau-bars on Monday, March 8: I hear you’re going to win big, starting ASAP, in the targeted $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that the U.S. Senate approved as our week started. Buy me a drink with the cash, and treat yourself to something nice, too, while you’re at it.
Masked Philly: Janice Martin
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 Janice Martin, the owner of the famed, Ardmore-based Janice Martin Couture and her Sewn for Good LLC.
Beloved for her evening and wedding gowns, Ms. Martin – with a business struck by COVID and the dwindled number of public nuptials and tony private events – laid back, but for a second, to get some lessons and play golf.
“I played more golf in the fall than I usually do and hope to start playing in the early spring again,” said Martin.
“It was nice to be outside for a safe, socially-distanced activity. I also spun off a new passion project, to keep busy and do my part making masks for family, friends and long-time customers.”
Martin designed and donated 5,000-plus face masks to local medical personnel and infectious disease specialists working with COVID patients, to homeless shelters, Cradles to Crayons, and senior living facilities, as well as designing and producing “VOTE” scarves to raise funds for the nonpartisan League of Women Voters.
“Our scarf was finished in time to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of both the LWV and the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote and to help raise awareness about the importance of voting.”
Martin’s mask is complete with three layers of 100 percent cotton, a “nose wire,” a pocket for additional filters, elastic ties, pleats, a “chin strap” for a close fit and is reusable, as it can be washed and worn again. It isn’t just functional. It tells a story. Makes a point.
“I’m wearing a Pussy Power silk scarf and matching cotton mask because it’s the reason I started the scarf campaign – to raise funds for Planned Parenthood. This features ‘real placards’ from the March, is colorful, fun, goes with a ton of things, and it gets great responses from people.”
When the pandemic dies, the first thing Martin will do is open a bottle of champagne, celebrate with an open house at her Couture salon, and go to a restaurant for chocolate mousse, oysters and a Lemon Drop.
“Not necessarily in that order, but you get the idea.”
Until then, Martin will plan for a resumption of work on bridal and evening wear (“Some clients will return a completely different size, as several have taken up a strict diet/exercise regimen”), continue production and design of a new line of accessories, expand her couture ideal through christening gowns, First Communion dresses and non-traditional bridal gowns (“backyard weddings, a few for destination/beach weddings”).
“Plus, we have orders placed for some gorgeous custom French laces which will be turned into some lovely mother of the bride and groom gowns for weddings later in 2021.”
Janice Martin Couture will also work to keep seamstresses sewing, giving jobs back to those working for her while helping the local medical community, as well as buying fair trade fabric out of a woman’s cooperative in Cambodia where every purchase supports their women’s and children’s HIV Center. Therefore, Martin is doing well, at home and abroad.