Our in-person Election Month, I MEAN DAY – Tuesday, Nov. 3 – draws perilously near.
It is, as always, THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIVES until the next one. I get it. And, in all honesty, not only do I always say that voting is a must, a right and a privilege – so get to the polls or your mailboxes – I’m one of those people who state that if you don’t vote, if you cede your ability to stand up and be counted, then sit the fuck down and shut up about everything. Your opinion doesn’t count if you don’t make yourself count.
That said, oh street-strolling pollers, clipboard holders, Twitterers, emailers, Instagrammers and Zoom callers of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia: You have made my summer and autumn SUCK. Actually, everyone from restaurateurs to clothiers to artists – even the most frivolous marketing teams and public relations people used to selling fluff – have made my season in the un-sun suck with their focus on voting, daily harangues that are no more than on-trend tics. The only thing worse than discussing public policy with someone who won’t vote privately is someone blathering on about the political process as if it is a commonplace hourly meme – a TikTok clip whose importance rises then falls in the nanosecond before the next short-form vid flickers. I am a grown-ass man and don’t need to be told to “vote.” You vote, pal. YOU. GO. VOTE.
New album, song
Sure, Philly’s space-dream psychedelic The War on Drugs has a new album, a live one entitled LIVE DRUGS coming out on Adam Granduciel’s Super High Quality label, late in November. And live albums always stand for greatest hits, fan faves or opportunities for one member to jam while another runs out back for a smoke and someone records it all. This time, however, as portrayed first on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the other night, The War on Drugs’ LIVE DRUGS hosts a new track, “Ocean of Darkness.” OK, one new song since releasing their fourth album, “A Deeper Understanding,” in 2017? Fine. We’ll take it.
Masked Philly: Paige Price
In Icepack’s continuing saga of asking mask-donning local celebrities what they’ve been up to beyond the pale during C-19, this week I reached out to Paige Price, the producing artistic director at Philadelphia Theatre Company.
Like every theater company in town, Price’s PTC on Broad Street has been on lockdown, free from all on-stage-with-an-audience activity. So what’s Paige been doing at home? For the duel purposes of “relaxation and nesting,” Price rediscovered her love of raking leaves for the autumn tumble, as well as writing postcards to friends to get them involved in Philly’s Protect&Elect – a group of women who started a state PAC dedicated or fundraising for down-ballot races in Pennsylvania.
“I’m writing ‘til my hands fall off,” she said. Mainly, however, Price has been doing deep-dives into the world of online theatremaking. “I went to a ton of readings and ‘shows’ online, then learned a little bit more about editing in iMovie when we had to move to a virtual Play Brawl,” she said of PTC’s annual our gala. “It was fun to learn how others were manipulating Zoom and other platforms to enhance the system to make it more versatile. Ellie Heyman, the director of The Tattooed Lady, worked on an all-star benefit for AMFAR with Glenn Close and Patti LuPone and she let me peek behind the scenes. When we got the Pew grant for The Tattooed Lady, (woohoo!), we got excited about how those methods might help us develop the show until it’s safe to get back into a rehearsal room together. These new tools will be ideal to help push the form forward.”
The mask? She’s all for it. “I’ve gotten quite used to wearing them and am uplifted when I see people just going about their day, respecting that this is the way we have to do things for now. My mask was made by a composer – Jenny Giering – who personalized them according to our personalities. Mine I loved for the color…my eyes look blue or green depending on what I’m wearing and this one definitely puts them in the green category.”
While Price is waiting for the moment where she could take a huge breath and say a grateful “thank you” for continued health, the PTC producing artistic director is excited (“and experiencing terror”) about finally getting ready to produce “The Wolves.”
“This play has been a year in the making, and we’ve had to pause so many times, but, we’re going to start Election Week. So…yeah, that’s happening. We’re making a fully virtual version of the play – all shot in isolation – and this is simply the first time we’re all doing this. So you don’t know what you don’t know, right? But, it’s a great challenge and we’ll come out on the other side of it having learned new things.”
Downtown Philly, Italian Market Philly, Fishtown guitar-buying Philly, say so long, for now, to Adam Sandler and the “Hustle”/Netflix b-balling crew for a minute. Like all Philly-based film productions, they’re headed up to the Oaks studio facility in Chester, then a gym at Coatesville High School in Eastern PA until Nov. 5. 6WJAC even reports that the LeBron James-produced “Hustle” will give the high school a new scoreboard and $80,000 for its troubles. Atza nize. While LeBron’s crew has been in Philly, by the way, his SpringHill Company has made a deal with CNN Films Team to lens “Dreamland: The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street” on the controversial topic of 1921’s Tulsa race massacre. Sandler, during this same time, has made his bulldog, Bagel, part of the Fleetwood Mac “Dreams” TikTok craze with a new video posted on the Sandman’s Twitter, Ocean Spray and all, with the pooch reunited with Sandler on a Philly studio lot.
Right after celebrating her 50th anniversary during the pandemic and hosting her dance company’s first live stream performance through the Annenberg Center, Philadanco founder Joan Myers Brown is stepping down from her longtime leadership role as artistic director and welcomes Kim Bears Bailey in that choreographic-curatorial role. Is it me, or did this seem sudden? JMB is beloved, so a departure is worth a question.
By the time this Icepack runs, Philly’s Iron Chef and restaurateur Jose Garces will have rearranged and overhauled everything there is about his Olde Bar in Old City – his legendary Bookbinders’ buy out from 2015 – with a majorly redone and expanded menu and a big décor/space shift. Credit where credit’s due: This pandemic has made for some fascinating style/décor moves in the name of safety and social distancing. After that, expect Garces to move around the menu and the chairs at Olde Bar’s neighbor, Amada, as well as his Rittenhouse-area Basque Boite, Tinto.
June Bugs music
Philly’s fave-o-rite rockabilly/retro swing outfit April Mae & The June Bugs have retooled their dirty, epic Halloween hayride treat from last year, the 2019 released “Boogie Boo!” into a spanking new “Boogie Boo! Deluxe” with all 14 songs from the original, a downloadable booklet “Sharing the Stories, Songs by April Mae,” plus three additional songs. “Swingin’ At The Séance,’” “Graveyard Boogie” and the hot rod-themed “Race With the Devil.” While the first two new tracks were recorded at home during C-19 quarantine, the “Race” was recorded at the historic Sun Studios in Memphis, TN with guest drummer and legendary Sun session cat, Rockabilly Hall of Famer J.M. Van Eaton. A music video for “Race With the Devil” from that Sun session should drop in time for the spooky holiday.