Tricks and treats

Joackim Weiler

With Halloween on a Sunday, and not exactly a weekend this year, you have two extra days and nights of having to go cheap and make one costume work for three days of parties and trick-and/or-treating. So, what is your mask and wig for Halloween 2021? 

The many faces of the Sixer-Not-Sixer Ben Simmons: the lazy baller, the distant emotional wastrel, the letter-writing goof expressing himself in prose? (It should be added that though he’s got zero time to practice even when he deigns his teammates worthy of his presence, Simmons does have the get-up-and-go vigor to put his Moorestown, South Jersey, house on the market for $5 million). 

The rolled-up sleeves of John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty complete with a scroll of lobbyists, political consultants, and fellow union leaders close at his side? Transit Workers Union Local 234 president Willie Brown pushing around SEPTA as if he were pushing old trolleys back onto their tracks? An Eagle – pick one, they’re all to blame – who blundered every bit of Sunday’s game with the Raiders and have left us 2-5? (Maybe newly ex-Eagle Zach Ertz got out of town for the Arizona Cardinals just in time. And I don’t mean Philly’s cold winter’s snap). Maybe even the pranking fake Gritty that got its ass kicked on Saturday Night Live the other night? 

Ghouling up for Halloween and going into the district attorney’s race this Tuesday, I’d love to say that I’m going for the Charles Peruto costume (the disco pompadour, the deep tan, the natty comportment) and not the Larry Krasner (basically the “Harry Potter” with less schoolkid references and more frazzled, loosely knotted ties) for Halloween, but while both are scary, the former just won’t draw any attention.

Comcast TV set 

Keeping score with the Philly-based cable-streaming giant Comcast this week,means watching the launch of its debut television set, the smart XClass TV, built by Hisense for streaming, and to be sold nationally at WalMart (!?). That means that, for the first time ever, Comcast’s entertainment platform will be made available to those without an Xfinity subscription. Not unlike loading iPhones with U2 albums they don’t want, Comcast is looking to deal with the fact that the number of Xfinity’s television subscribers has dwindled drastically across the last several seasons, and seeks to boost and widen its streaming scope. (Comcast also got dragged into Johnny Dougherty case notes when it was found that Doc struck a supposed side deal with the cabler for franchising efforts and that Comcast was a wee greedy. It’s good to stay current, Comcast.) Not around so much for the XClass launch is David L. Cohen who is just waiting by the phone for local pal, President Biden, to cross the t’s and dot the i’s for that promised ambassadorship to Canada. Mr. Cohen, Biden isn’t so great at putting pen to paper and signing things in a timely fashion – Mexican border – so you might want to settle back in an easy chair in Philly for a sec.

Rittenhouse movie

Because playing a homeless man is something he does with ease (go back to “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” for a start, I’m not making any stale or untoward Nolte-homeless jokes) Nick Nolte returned to familiar ground last week by commencing filming on a flick called Rittenhouse in Rittenhouse Square. That’s apt, right? The new movie is directed and written by local Brandon Eric Kamin (he did his last film, The Nomads, here as well with Tate Donovan and Raekwon about sports programs in a North Philadelphia high school), and so far we haven’t heard much about where the location has moved since day one. Rittenhouse Square is only so big.

New name 

How cute: South Philly’s barren, ye old refinery area just rebranded as “The Bellwether District” from the HRP. It rolls off the tongue sweeter than “Newbold,” yet isn’t quite as delightful as “Point Breeze.” 

Skid Row music 

Just announced for pre-order and a Christmas time release for the hair metal heads on your holiday list: the complete catalog from New Jersey’s hard rock Skid Row from the late’ 80s and early ’90s with SKID ROW: The Atlantic Years 1989-1996. The whole thing is available on vinyl and CD (that’s right, that format ain’t dead yet), and, of course, comes with power ballads such as “18 & Life” and “I Remember You.” Fact: they were huge in Australia, far beyond their Toms River roots so don’t get cocky.

War on Drugs prints

Closer to this century, and closer to home, Philly’s The War on Drugs have hooked up with Texan (better say Austin, TX) visual artist Tim Wakefield and the Soundwave Art Collaborative for prints based on the sound wave patterns of War songs such as “Red Eyes” and “Thinking of a Place.” Head Drugie Adam Granduciel has hand-signed prints. with Soundwaves selling the results for charity: the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund for music biz workers, on and off the stage beat up and broke from the pandemic’s long shutdown.

Questlove book 

Speaking of the shutdown, and in case you missed another thing that he’s produced, while quarantining and putting final edit touches on his Summer of Soul documentary, Philly native Questlove – still a Root(s), still with Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show band – also wrote his sixth book and recorded its audio version with his own score, Music Is History. The history book looks into race, gender, politics, culture and identity across the last 50 years in the U.S. using a song a year to tell its tale. Bravo. 

Image | Courtesy of Bailey Walker and Adam Laub

Masked Philly Remix: DECOUPLR’s Bailey Walker and Adam Laub

In Icepack’s way too-long and now 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 AGAIN, to West Philly’s DECOUPLR’s Bailey Walker and Adam Laub.

Now, why would I go at the chilly (their sound is icy, I’m sure they’re warm people) electronic music making couple, singer Walker and multi-instrumentalist Laub for a second round of Icepack Masked Philly? There are millions (OK, 20, but still….) famous Philadelphians masking and vaxxing (and a bunch of you fuckers who aren’t – AND WISE UP). I dare to do the duo as a do-over because they just released a mashed, chopped, diced and sliced new version of their 2021 debut album as DIGITAL BONFIRE REMIXED, a re-envisioned re-interpretation of the original album with each track remixed by a different artist. 

So while December 2020 found the blissful pair “exploring home projects that are sustainability minded,” noted Walker, “with projects like soap and candle making,” and Laub advancing his skills with servers, by setting up home server stacks in their bedroom (“It’s quite loud with all the fans running but quarantine has given me some extra time to learn more about the technology”), spring 2021 was a different matter altogether. 

“DIGITAL BONFIRE was all about isolation, loneliness and dealing with anxiety, especially in the face of the pandemic,” says Walker. “We tried to send messages on the album that it is okay to reach out to the people closest to you when you need help. So, remixes were a chance for us to sort of fulfill that message by collaborating with many wonderful people. I feel like the remix record takes music we made and gives the listener the opportunity to hear DIGITAL BONFIRE through the lens of some of our closest friends and favorite local artists.”

Laub continues with, “We made it a point to only have musicians that we are close friends with on the record, so we thought we had an idea of what each person would do but everyone really surprised us with what they came up with. At this point when I think of some of these songs, I realize I am hearing the remix in my head instead of the original.”

While Walker walks around with a mask purchased from South Street Art Mart and Laub donning a very tech-y SpaceMask, DECOUPLR’s next plans involve playing live shows now that venues are reopening. “We are also working on a collaboration EP with Philly-based musician Fried Monk, and we are starting to write and record our follow up LP. No timeline for that yet, but so far the songs are starting to come out very naturally.”


  • 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

More Popular Articles

Upcoming Philly Events