This week, beyond getting another politicized Lodestone you can drive into the ground with the Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference-inspired Fraud Street Run – this month’s “bad things happen in Philadelphia” drawn-out trope – this city has recently been treated to a fresh start as far as editorial positions and local journalism is concerned.
Philadelphia Weekly readers already know that this newspaper has a novel right/conservative news and opinion outlook with a fresh editor to show for it in Jenny DeHuff. At the same time, last week, Gabriel Escobar – Philadelphia Inquirer writer and newsroom vice president – was named that paper’s news editor. Two weeks before that, Kate Dailey was named Philadelphia Magazine’s new top editor, at the same time its Writer at Large, Ernest Owens, was named Editor at Large. CBS3 installed a shiny new antenna at its transmission tower in Roxborough for a greater quality over-the-air signal for its viewers in the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys. Hell, I even bought a new, lighter concealer (for the winter season shading) and a lip brush for my Zoom press conferences with Mayor Kenney, Managing Director Tumar Alexander, and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, M.D.
Point is, this is a magnificent and significant time of change and empowerment – even clarity – in the Philadelphia news industry, be it print or broadcast, and I’m more than a little curious as to what all of it means to you. How truly inspired and inquiring you will be by the diversity of voice, of opinion. Because, quite frankly, none of us are doing this for ourselves, for our health – Philadelphia’s newsies are doing this because you deserve it.
Maybe having the paper of record run a “2020 Philadelphia Inquirer Dining Guide” might seem a little daft and insensitive at this point in time, considering how Farley announced on Monday that Philly (“and hopefully neighboring counties”) will not be allowed to host any indoor dining until after Jan. 1, 2021, with outdoor dining limited to four members (even then just family, but isn’t that a nebulous term when considering all local Mob and occasional Larry, Darryl and Darryl groupings), but, hey – fact over feelings, kids.
Masked Philly: Paul M. Eaton
In Icepack’s continuing saga of asking mask-donning local celebrities what they’ve been up to, beyond the pale during C-19’s pandemic, I reached out this week to Girard College music educator Paul M. Eaton.
Better known to Philadelphians as the man/musician behind P.M. & the New Breed – the ‘90s born funk/R&B ensemble responsible for albums such as “Hardcore Funkin’ Soul,” and more than a gazillion sweaty live shows in the area with PhunkyMan and The Roddenberries – Eaton has also maintained a heralded career teaching music at Girard College for the past 20 years. For such high caliber work, he was nominated for a Regional Emmy for his Girard students’ writing and singing collaboration with Curtis Institute of Music (a children’s opera “Anansi and the Great Light,” the documentary of which, created by WHYY, was nominated for the Emmy). And now, he is newly nominated for a Grammy educator award and has made the semi-finals.
With classroom time and live gigs at a standstill, Eaton has made sure his creativity was still moving forward. “I have almost finished my next recording with my band Phunkyman and have released the first single “Nobody knows My Name” on all streaming platforms,” he said. “I’m getting ready to drop the second single in three weeks, “Just To Be,” and the album should be ready for release late in December. I am also helping my church, The Greater Philadelphia Church of Christ, as the music minister by producing social distance music videos for their online services. It’s a daunting task, coordinating a choir and band to individually record musical arrangements that I create and then compile them for worship videos, but it’s worth it.”
As far as mask wearing goes, Eaton is all for it, as it’s essential in curbing the spread of the virus. “As a school teacher, a parent, and a person who is immuno-compromised with diabetes, AND have had friends that have contracted COVID-19 with many succumbing to the virus, a mask is a simple yet vital tool for combatting this virus. This is a non-issue. I understand some people tiring of wearing a mask or not YET being personally affected, but this is a matter of life or death. Put on the mask…period.”
It’s no surprise that the first thing Eaton will do when the masks can come off the mask is sing. “As a professional musical artist, teacher, mentor, coach and entertainer, singing is my life,” he stated. What he will do until that happens, is stay hopeful about the recent Grammy educator award nomination. “I would love to be able to represent my family, students, my school Girard College, My Alma Maters Performing Arts HS and University of Hartford The Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale, and musicians everywhere by demonstrating perseverance, excellence and artistry in education and life.”
Wine, wine and more wine
By the way, remember last week when I hinted that Jose Garces’s Tinto redux was going to focus on the wine lover in you? The Iron Chef’s Rittenhouse region Basque boite now has a new, spruced up bottle shop filled with handsomely curated Spanish wines to go with his handsomely curated new menu. Considering too that the Rittenhouse area also just welcomed Audrey Taichman’s Cook switcheroo (a tony wine shop called Audrey Claire Cork) and that Greg Vernick has an eponymously named wine salon right next to his eponymously named restaurant, expect everyone that you love along the Square to have wine breath. Yay, holidays.
Just when you weren’t paying attention, new-fangled Philly dirt bike enthusiast Lil Uzi Vert dropped a surprise album release on Friday with his pal and fellow rapper Future in “Pluto x Baby Pluto.” OK. Fine. Rappers drop new albums sans notice all the time. It’s the new industry standard. What’s cool and fascinating and sad is what came next: First an Uzi tweet promising a quick follow-up to “Pluto X Baby Pluto.” That same day, however, Uzi tweeted that he had these two new albums in him, and “then I’m out,” signaling perhaps that he was done with music. This wouldn’t be the first time Ui has threatened real retirement, and he did manage to take three years off between albums before 2020’s Eternal Atake drop. Then again, I’ve seen him driving down Washington Avenue on his long, souped-up dirt bike so many times, Uzi may just have another obsession beyond fashion and music.
Reef the Lost Cauze
There is old school. There is new school. Then there is longtime Philly rapper Reef the Lost Cauze, a school unto himself. Reef hasn’t dropped product in a minute, but now has a new video (“Brother Mouzone”) and a new project with pal/collaborator Haj of Dumhi for something called The Airing of Grievances. Seinfeld-ian hip hop? The EP drops on Black Friday. Very spooky.
A ray of sunshine where the restaurant-live venue blues is concerned, literally, comes in that the South Philly blues club and soul music eaterie Warmdaddy’s, which closed over the summer, is getting a re-do from owners Robert and Benjamin Bynum for North Broad Street. Stay tuned.