Icepack | March 26-April 2

Philly chefs, artists, musicians continue to rally under virus threat

Icepack image
In a time of great uncertainty, Philadelphians are banding together and it’s a beautiful thing. | Image screenshot

Did you ever know something before, but, now you know?

What I’m hardline discovering about a Philadelphia under wretched threat of coronavirus is that its culture classes (artists, actor-directors, musicians) and its culinary klatches get things done. 

It’s chefs and waiters prepping takeout orders and running meals curbside. The picture of maestro Joe Cicala handing a delicate Fazzoletti Sardi through a car window is priceless. It’s art-makers crafting virtual events – live, archived, workshopped, for charity or comfort – Philly has its game face on.

Hell, days after I hailed Bibou for foie gras and escargot C19 deal meals, they’ve sold out of cassoulet dinner. Who knows how long the Crab Galette reserves will hold out? Sacre bleu. I’ll wear my Christian Siriano-sewn face mask for that takeout. 

Point is, there will always be gossip and news beyond COVID-19 for Icepack to report.  I’ll continue to shed light on those doing the most interesting good as Covid-19 goes on, BUT, Icepack will stay as much a place of catty entertainment as it’s useful, unique knowledge and news. Something’s got to remain sane. 

Get well

Shout out to HughE Dillion, this town’s social photographer and PhillyChitChat-er who tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend, and is currently on rest duty, probably snapping photos of his toes in bed. Get well.

Virtual music

Everyone’s had a taste of their favorite virtual Philly musician during the week, where live-streaming became the new normal. So far, we’ve heard from John Legend, Diplo, Lil Dave, Kurt Vile, Strand of Oaks, Chris Diehm of Earth Telephone, Waxatchee, the Wally Smith + Greg Davis Sunday jazz brunch duo, The War on Drugs,  Harmony Woods, Low Cut Connie and more. Look them up. Connie’s Instagram live showcases – shot via iPhone – was particularly poignant when LCC’s Adam Weiner humma-humma-grumbled, “We have to be socially distant, but that doesn’t mean we have to be spiritually distant. … Or culturally distant… Or emotionally distant.”

Webathon 

Something you missed if you blinked was the live LoveFromPhilly “webathon” to aid Philadelphia musicians impacted by Covid-19. Put together by Andy Hurwitz’s 30Amp.org and producer Phil Nicolo (who used his Studio 4 location to shoot and co-hosted with Lauren Hart and Schooly D), the event raised nearly $2,000. Not bad for zero notice. But the LoveFromPhilly bunch – 10 musicians, camera people, hosts – caught flak for not practicing social distancing and such. No more webathons. 

I was so looking forward to Schooly singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (fans of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon will appreciate my song choice). Now LoveFromPhilly will be an online hub of charity featuring pop-up performances and hosts funneled through social media channels in conjunction with 30amp.org to raise funds and distribute cash.  

Streamed theater

I’ll update as stage-shows go up virally, but with live theater gravely affected by COVID-19, several companies have taken the reins (or an iPhone), filmed performances, and are live streaming dramatically. Or dramatically live streaming. This week, while Philly’s Paper Dolls Ensemble drops a recording of their recent “Bachelor” piss-take “Marry, Marry, Quite Contrary” from Plays & Players, Norristown’s Theatre Horizon start airing homemade, brand new educational, and impromptu solo shows on its two YouTube channels. Plus, Horizon’s artists and educators get paid $45 for 25-45 minute videos, so give what you can.

What’s up with Recess? 

Remember I mentioned Ryan Dorsey, the nightlifer with previous ties to Recess Lounge, North Shore Beach Club and NOTO prepping to open Mr. Ivy at the old McFadden’s on N. 3rd by spring? Now, I’m hearing a rumor (not to be confused by Rumor, the club on Sansom) – a rumor, don’t get all-foamy at the mouth, or fall into a K hole – that Recess Lounge is set to close. The same Rumor Lounge known and loved by OC  after-hour aficionados? The same Recess Lounge that made Complex Mag’s “Douchiest Bars” list (a compliment if it’s coming from Complex). The same Recess Lounge where one-time Eagle LeSean McCoy beat up a Philly police officer had to pay $55,000? That Recess Lounge. Stay tuned.

Pizza and more

Just in time for C19, ahead of the curve where takeout service is the only game in town, Dan Gutter – the man behind the Pizza Gutt Instagram, its expansion into W/N W/N and Circles + Squares in Kensington (which reopened on March 14 for a spell closed) –  just debuted Pizza Plus at 12th & Mifflin. He’s got fries to go with that shake, chicken parm sandwiches on Sarcone’s rolls, mega-juicy hamburgers and deep pizzas with cheesy crispy crusts. My dining spies in the health-care industry inform me Pizza Plus is primo for speed, taste and accuracy.

Tim & Eric 

Temple U grads Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim – Tim & Eric – premiered their surrealistically stupid-yet-cool new sitcom “Beef House” one week earlier than scheduled for stuck-at-home dorks like me. “Army Buddy Brad” takes place during an Easter Sunday egg hunt, and can be screened on Adult Swim’s website.

Saying goodbye

Germantown’s Sun Ra family just lost two of its longtime members to the offshoots of Jupiter. Baritone saxophonist, flutist, ensemble manager (to say nothing of  Heiskell Street Pharoah’s Den grocery owner) Danny Ray Thompson passed away at the age of 73. He was a beloved Arkestra member since 1967, and started recording with Ra & Co. on 1969’s “Atlantis.” 

Fellow Germantown-ian Leroy Butler never played a note with the Arkestra, but he was no less important to Sun’s aesthetics. The 94-year old artist, who passed away this weekend, created Afro-conscious, space-sailing covers for 1973’s “Discipline 27-II,” 1976’s “Sun Ra And His Arkestra/Featuring Pharoah Sanders / Featuring Black Harold” and 1983’s “A Fireside Chat With Lucifer.” 

If you checked out my June 2019 PW cover on Butler, you’ll find a warm conversation, choice Ra tales (like having Sun never pay Butler), and imagistic reminisces about East Tulpehocken Street, and the Germantown of his youth.  

“Pen and ink, scribbling it down in pencil, then coming back and inking in the lines I wanted to keep. … I really loved that. That’s probably what saved me, kept me off the streets.”

  • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

    A.D. Amorosi is a Philadelphia-based journalist who, along with Philadelphia Weekly, writes for numerous local, national and international publications including Variety and the Philadelphia Inquirer.