Icepack | Dec. 3-10

man smoking a blunt
Image: Ahmed Zayan

Of course I’d say this, that Philadelphia police and city officials should follow Oregon’s lead from the weekend and adopt the Beaver State’s newest laws decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of drugs that will take effect Feb. 1, 2021, (the law, not the drugs. Hell, the drugs are kicking in right…about…now).

And, like Oregon’s Health Authority, substance abuse programs statewide that get funding should get it from monies that the state receives from any marijuana sales tax revenue. 

For those who keep discussing the merits of defunding the police – of which I am not fond: I didn’t buy a house in South Philly so that I COULDN’T have loud disputes with my neighbor or shoo away drunks from my steps or yell at a vendor on 9th Street because my beard got singed from the flames from an industrial waste can – a can which is burning year-round, and all without the benefit of official intervention – such radical decriminalization is a positive boon. 

If Philly would adopt the Oregon law, area cops could save that valuable time for better things, such as attending loud union meetings and making fun of the police commish’s handsomely decorated nail polish. Plus, not that I’m holding anything now, but that fact that I could keep a teensy tiny amount of cocaine, heroin, meth, ecstasy, LSD, psilocybin, methadone and oxycodone on me and get a ticket or face a $100 fine for less money than a trash violation is a tasty proposition. I may just get some (some what? Name it) to keep with me, like a rabbit’s foot or a four leaf clover.

Another success 

If last week’s PW cover is all about local restaurateurs making lemonade from lemons, South Philly’s Bitar’s Mediterranean/Middle Eastern Grocery and Take-Out fits the bill. I didn’t realize it as I was getting my story together, but the 10th and Federal corner shop is running game for eight separate brand menus in a successful ghost kitchen for Future Foods, the home and purveyor for virtual restaurant brands such as Saint Pita, Beverly Hills Platters, Hummus Hero, Bob’s Kabobs, Mediterranea Rice Bowls, Fabulous Falafel and Pangea Banquet.

Brian Walker project 

Like Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes say, if you don’t know Philly’s Brian Walker by now, you may never ever, never ever knowwwwwwwww himmmm. But, here is your chance. Long considered a lovely and communal musician/composer for his ongoing “A Day Without Love” project, his new collaborative epic, “Mega Jawn,” finds him paired – at his urging and through “A Day Without Love” – with 15 diverse artists from Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago and parts of New Jersey. Pulling from each of their sonic brands and co-compositional skills (a portion of the “Mega Jawn” compilation’s co-songwriters include Philly’s Alexandra Kay March, Marcelyn, Jake Detwiler and more). The fruit of their labor was released Dec. 4. 

Real estate moves

The hotel and tourism business in Philly, like every other business here, is sliding down the tubes. So, while you were sleeping, something huge happened: The gihugic and monumentally historic Neo-Classicist Family Court Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, intended for purchase to the Peebles Corporation – the hoteliers behind famed D.C. spaces such as 2100 Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel – has found itself on the market again as both parties terminated the agreement of sale for the potentially boutique-oriented property. Is this a case of changing finances and cash figures at a time when the travel economy is loopy? No matter. 1801 Vine is up for grabs.

Thomas Bauer | Image: Courtesy Thomas Bauer

Masked Philly: Thomas Bauer 

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 Thomas Bauer, the president of the just-opened Christmas Village in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park.

Before you start thinking, “Now, there’s a guy who only works for two months a season,” yerrrrrrrrr wrong. Dead wrong. Bauer is on the job 365 days a year. Like everyone else, COVID-19 has made working for home de rigeur with his downtime spent fashioning a new health regimen. 

“My first thought was that I’d spent more time jogging and running, as I had more time on my hands with less meetings and less work scheduled. So I usually got out in the early morning, way before work, and was able to step up my distances so that I could easily do a half marathon. Overall, I feel healthier now.” 

Being healthier also pushed him to gather the nuts of knowledge about health in his industry. 

“Working in the event industry, I obviously also learned a lot about hygiene and mitigation protocols to stop the virus from spreading. I was impressed to read that all the simple mitigation measures might have a role in reducing transmission in future influenza seasons and other diseases, too,” he said.

The mask he wears comes from a local designer purchased during the pandemic downtime, when Thomas was spending time with his family back in Germany. 

“This face mask reminds me of time spent with my family and how much that means to me,” he said. 

“The colorful and pleasant patterns make me aware that an intense and joyful time with the family is priceless. I will, however, definitively shop more cool facemasks at Christmas Village. I saw a couple of Philly-themed must-haves.”

When he takes off the mask at the new socially distanced and seated Christmas Village, Bauer will enjoy a Kölsch lager beer that Brewery Techne at Bar Hygge on Fairmount Avenue brewed exclusively for the Village. 

“Obviously, I cannot wait for masks to go forever to bring back more events and customers to all the craft market regular small businesses suffering these days. For now, I’m excited to still have a socially distant version of the holiday festivities. This may remind us: It’s not about superlatives, but to make the best of a situation.”


  • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

    A.D. Amorosi is an award-winning journalist who, along with working for the Philadelphia Weekly, writes regularly for Variety, Jazz Times, Flood and Wax Poetics, and hosts and co-produces his own SoundCloud-charting radio show, Theater in the Round for Pacifica National Public Radio station WPPM 106.5 FM and

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