Since I never ask of Icepack’s readership, let’s stop a moment here: How are you? How are you doing post-Daylight’s Saving Switch? (Who would complain about more sunshine? You people. I’ve heard you.) Post-Travis Scott ASTROWORLD tragedy. (Makes you think twice about standing-show-only, close-to-the-stage capacity.) Post-Eagles loss to the Chargers. (I’ve never witnessed so many gracious Philly football fans conceding that the opposing team played a great, and better, game. Is our water dosed?) Post-election. (Krasner won, but he’s going to have to contend with right-wing judges, so no one wins.)
Post-NoMo money. (Maybe a $1 million grant can help Philly fight off gun violence.) Post-Dana Chanel for allegedly ripping off small, local Black-owned businesses. (Never trust a Philly Instagram influencer, an oxymoron for sure, and never try to outrun Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.) Post-Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy sexual misconduct allegations and charges of racism and misogyny. (Portnoy is innocent until proven guilty, but c’mon – are the allegations any surprise? He’s all but called himself a creep and a pig since he started doing business. Sometimes, when a person calls him-her-they-self “bad,” believe them.)
Penn National problems
Which reminds me: Wyomissing’s Penn National Gaming, Inc. the local company with interest in area casinos, online gambling and racetracks who picked up a 36% ownership stake in Barstool Sports, is freaaaaaaaking the fuck out with the recent Portnoy news of alleged “violent and humiliating” sexual encounters. So much so that stock shares of Penn National Gaming fell over 20% last Thursday upon first reports, and will probably plummet more with this weekend’s next stock reports. Variety reported that “the drop in Penn National’s stock price also came after the company missed Q3 earnings expectations. Revenue climbed 34%, to $1.51 billion, but net profit dropped 65% to $86.1 million (52 cents per share), well below Wall Street average forecasts of EPS of 85 cents. The company shares opened -4.6% after the earnings report was issued Thursday morning.” Oof. (Then again, shares of Live Nation Entertainment fell 8% in early trading as of Nov. 8 after the Travis Scott debacle, as Live Nation was the promoter for Astroworld).
The great-and-famed Marsha Brown (of Ruth’s Chris Steak House fame) is now passing the baton in New Hope for what was her namesake restaurant in the former historic stone church that dates back to the 1800s. Oldestone will debut this week from New Hope restaurant veterans Michael Sklar and Wilfer Naranjo (who also own GreenHouse) with business partners Gasper and Vincent Ferrara (brothers). Wilfer has a long history with Marsha and the building, he was a food runner there when Marsha Brown’s opened back in 2003, he later would meet his wife who was a server there, and later he became a front of house manager, and now he returns years later from food runner to owner. The connections with Oldestone include some of the original artwork, dishes and recipes purchased from Marsha Brown’s for a special section of the menu, and the original GM who helped open Marsha Browns, John Madeley. The decor includes chandeliers that were featured in the Keanu Reeves movie “John Wick 3” ( a big deal for cinephiles) plus the 30-foot Redemption mural overlooking the dining room, a 1920s jazz age bar, and stained glass and pews from the original church. Oldestone opens this Friday at 5:30pm at 15 South Main Street. Do it.
Elect Allen to Hall of Fame
Maybe this year’s Phillies aren’t so hot, but one of its greats, the late Dick Allen, could finally get his due this December for MLB Hall of Fame enshrinement. Just like Upper Darby’s Todd Rundgren, where it took too long to acknowledge his achievements (so long, Runt didn’t even show up to the Rock Hall ceremony last week), baseballer Allen – honored recently in Cape May – was a top-tier first and third baseman, outfielder, and an All-Star for seven seasons. Get him in, now.
Following a surprise Monday, Midtown Village pop-up in its Drury Beer Garden adjacency, Opa’s famed brother-and-sister restaurateurs, George and Vasiliki Tsiouris, will welcome back its beloved mod Greek menu, along with all full operations, this week. The Drury-Opa Pop-up actually lasts until the end of 2021 (maybe longer?) and the Drury Beer Garden will actually continue to offer its own menu items, along with Opa’s separate and large pop-up menu. If that’s Greek to you, that’s the point.
New health commish
Day late, dollah short, but still cool: good on Jim Kenney for finally full-time appointing Dr. Cheryl Bettigole as Philly’s health commissioner. She’s been acting in the role of health commissioner since May, when Dr. Thomas Farley had to resign over the unwise, insensitive disposal of human remains from the 1985 MOVE bombing.
More celebrity. Sure, why not? When Katie Couric was in town at the top of November at The Met Philadelphia for her new “Going There” book/memoir tour, she “dropped a $25K donation” on Tim Whitaker’s Mighty Writers nonprofit communal kids writing/reading/literacy outreach program. Per Mighty Writers’ email note as to why this is so cool: “We didn’t reach out to Katie Couric. We don’t know Katie Couric. We don’t know anybody who knows Katie Couric.” Go, Katie.
Masked Philly: JAWNY
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 lockdown to the current reopening, present-day unmasking 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?), and the possibility of mix-and-matching vaccines which is weird, right? – I reached out this week to JAWNY.
For the uninitiated, Los Angeles’ JAWNY (formerly known as Johnny Utah) is a singing-songwriting-multi-instrumentalist whose work is a slacker cross (that’s a compliment) between the best of Beck, the Beasties and Sonic Youth, with a new single “Take It Back” and a fresh EP The Story of Hugo. To back that, JAWNY plays The Foundry on Nov. 10.
Why all this matters to A.D., Icepack and Masked Philly is that JAWNY “lived in West Philly, and worked at 12th and Sansom for a good bit of my life,” mostly in the local restaurant trade, most recently as a fry cook at Hatch & Coop.
So, what did the pandemic break mean for JAWNY? Everything.
“I think my life would have been over, right now, if the COVID slowdown never happened,” he says. “I know that sounds super intense, but I went from a cook job to being thrown into the music industry so fast, before ever really being ready for it. I was still learning who I was as a songwriter and producer. I had one song (“Honeypie”) take me all around the world. It was like a fucking movie. Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for the privilege and opportunity to do it, but it was a lot for somebody that hadn’t ever paid his full dues in music, yet. I was getting burnt out, and on top of that I was more lost than I am proud to admit. Coming home from that oversees tour and learning everything was cancelled and all I had was time to figure my shit out and grow as a person and address some things in my head that I had put off for 6 months while flying all around was not only needed but necessary. As terrible as it all was in so many different ways for the world, COVID’s slowdown gave me the opportunity to live inside my head and decide what I want to do, what I want to make. Ultimately, that led me to become fully sober and healthier, and I’m in a much better place now than ever before… in music and in life.”
JAWNY is cool with the mask and the vax. “I’m wearing a mask while answering you,” he laughs. “I never really saw it as a burden or such a political thing. In April 2020 when I learned that wearing one helps and it makes everyone else around you more comfortable, I just put one on and never stopped wearing one since…. I’m double vaccinated, but I don’t think my opinion really matters. I know there is all that talk about how artists have influence and stuff, but I disagree in this situation. Don’t do it because my idiot, indie artist-ass said anything about it. I think if somebody does the research and comes to the conclusion that it’s safe, that it is helpful to their community/the world to become vaccinated then they should do it.”
Currently on tour, and in-and-out of Philly, JAWNY is doing the “regular testing, no contact with anybody outside the crew and the workers at the venue/masked up until we go on stage… The whole 9,” routine for The Foundry. And, along with playing “Honeypie,” and songs from For Abby, JAWNY calls The Story of Hugo, “a little project I wanted to throw together to have something to tour and give my fans some music to hold them over until they get this full album.”