Several days after the young Mummers’ PC strut along Broad Street (save for my home area, South West Philly’s Monopoly board dis to Kenney and Krasner, God love SWP and all things Kingsessing, yo), it’s about time that Icepack and I welcomed you to 2022.
So, hello. Stay dry this week. At first, I thought I wanted to craft a set of wily smart-assed predictions for the next 359 days to come at Icepack’s top. BUT. THEN. AH. Things are so loopy as to the fates, immediate or otherwise – of variants, of swift shifts in what we call law and-or order – that making any prognostication-ish call, jokey or not, is an act of sheer doofus-ness.
Instead, I’ll just professionally guess that the Eagles will make the Super Bowl (I’m stopping here, for now, as to who shall win). I don’t see anything good coming for or from the 76ers for another year, so ask me again in like August. That outdoor group dining igloos will eventually be replaced by thin individual dining tubes with large rubber gloves. That Philly’s parking Cone Rangers will spoil all fun, and eventually take to attacking those with actual cones – ice cream cones – of which they do not approve and find suspect (somebody had to take down Rocky Road, right?) That nearly every new Wawa which opened in the last 24 months will have to close because shoplifting will still be cool/legal for some time to come, and who really wants to work there anyway, honest. That Philadelphia’s ban on pre-hire marijuana testing will eventually include cocaine and MDMA, because, seriously, who is just smoking pot in these pandemic situations. That the month of Dry January will probably only last another few minutes after this because, quite frankly, I’m going to need a real cocktail real bad.
So, as we exchanged one year for another, Philly made national news for having its TSA discover two sharp knives hidden inside a Darth Vader teddy bear at a Philadelphia International Airport stall. What I got from this is that, “Wow, if they only really looked harder,” this area’s not-so-keen transportation inspectors would find the bag of mushrooms I hid within the batter of Auntie Em’s cinnamon soft pretzels at 30th Street’s train station, and the Kiss of Death, KGB 4.5mm caliber lipstick pistol I stuffed inside the sausage at Vetri’s Fiorella.
Pen & Pencil Update
Remember the name Nantambu Chavis. That’s the person that Bobbi Booker and Raphael Tiberino have brought in to re-jigger the culinary direction and merry new menu at the old Pen & Pencil Club, “a person I have always respected both personally and professionally in I have always enjoyed the food and ideas that this gentleman has created as a culinary artist,” noted Tiberino. So no hot dog water jokes.
I’m not a massive Golden Girls apologist, or network tv fan, but if you have any life and blood in your tiny heart, you are beyond fucked-up-sorry that Betty White died before 2021 turned to 2022. So, celebrating her life with marionettes ala That Golden Girls Show!: A Puppet Parody on January 11 at the Merriam Theater is either a very great thing or a truly sorry thing. Pick a side.
Old City Changes
For anyone who still cares about a glossily, organized clubland (as opposed to Philly’s muskier DIY warehouse space events, impromptu outdoor raves or parties at St. Lazarus), it looks as if the last night of Recess in Old City was New Year’s Eve, a party precipitating its move to a narrower, but higher ceilinged address along 8th and Arch Street.
Speaking of Old City closings and openings, flush in the face of Omicron, here comes 222 Market Street’s freshly opening Frame (and its reverse ‘R’ in its spelling) which pops wide its doors on January 12. Billed as a late-night dining concept and a sultry social hub with globally inspired cuisine and cocktails, Frame sounds verrrry much like the sorts of lounges that came about during that historic area’s 90s food/drink renaissance. I was there in the first place and it was fun. Then. OK. Sure, why not try it again. A backwards R is not as bad as a Z in place of an S, so, Frame is safe.
MASKED PHILLY: Jerry Blavat
In Icepack’s way too-long, way overly complex and continuing saga of asking mask-donning local celebrities what they’ve been up to, beyond the pale, during C-19 – from lock down to the current re-opening, present-day un-masking and re-masking, worrying about Delta variants, freaking out about Fauci’s call for a potential third round of vax shots mere five months after the last, new mask and vax card mandates, ignored or not ignored (I mean why did I wait in line at the Convention Center if you’re not asking to see my card?), the possibility of mix-and-matching vaccines which is weird, AND NOW, YEAH OF COURSE, the whole worldwide B.1.1.529 Omicron variant scare, so welcome to ROUND THREE, I reached out, this week, to Jerry Blavat.
The Boss with the Hot Sauce, My Man Pots and Pans, and the Eternal Yon Teen born and bred in South Philly has been busy during the pandemic. Before ringing in New Year’s Eve at Bally’s Atlantic City with Philly’s Legendary Blue Notes, Blavat spent 2021 doing radio events such as the innovative Lost Dedications’ showcase on WXPN with Ben Vaughn in July and reopening his bar-club, Memories in Margate, for the summer in May. Blavat once told me that “People see me doing the radio show live from Memories on Mixcloud and getting 40,000 hits from across the globe.”
What Blavat did during the C-19 pandemic was up his already prodigious exercise game – at home when he had to, at the gym when it was allowed. “I always ride my bike around town – difficult because you can’t always find places open for coffee, then a donut, of course. I look for places to stop for my morning ritual and read the newspaper. I do work out at home, 20 minute abs, the ball, my inversion table where I go upside-down, but it’s not like an hour and fifteen minutes at a gym. Anytime I can get into gym is the best.”
The most positive thing Blavat did during quarantine is meet neighbors where he lives, the Society Hill Towers, and throw 6 pm happy hours. “We go to the benches, we’re distanced six feet apart, I get pizzas from Stella, a couple of cases of wine from Moore Bros. and I share the wine and the pizza with my neighbors,” said The Geator.
Blavat, cool with masks and vaxxes, told me during a holiday dinner at Modo Mio about his upcoming first live party back at the Kimmel Center since Covid, January 21’s Jerry Blavat & Friends event with its usual large live orchestra (“we’ll always be the only live event around that replicates the records with full original orchestration), and singers such as Gary US Bonds, Darlene Love and Jerry’s old friend from the teen angel days in South Philly, Frankie Avalon. “Frankie’s never done one of my parties in the past, so this one is special. Then again, A, they’re all special. I can’t wait to get back in front of my live audiences that love this music most, the music I love the most.”