Will inflation save lives? Expensive cheesesteaks might not be a bad thing

Image | pizano13

Along with being a hot house to history, Philadelphia has forever led as the king’s seat to revolution. I may not exactly appreciate what Sixer Ben Simmons is doing in his sitting down or sitting out from b-ball team play, but his gall is gorgeous, and part of the merry insurrection that long made Philly great in the first place. Who knew, though, that tempers could flare over the politics of hissing pipes, and that such revolt and angry narrative would one day intertwine and revolve around natural gas vs. steam heat. Again. Hissssss.

OK, that story sounds really dull, but wait: the manic panic going on at ye olde cobblestone-surrounded Independence Hall and its grassy Independence National Historical Park since they planned the move from steam heat and toward natural gas and its local provider, PGW, is more ferocious than it initially appears. For, despite the fact that PGW is involved, and automatically you want to throw money into escrow, remembering that Pres. Biden has ordered federal agencies to reduce climate emissions, Indie Park’s move to fossil-fuel is akin to spitting in the face of Joe’s mandate. Huzzah. Another mandate of Biden’s trashed, for better or worse, only this one executed at the very cradle of liberty that built such dissent. (Speaking of Biden, WTF for giving the guy who disrespectfully trashed the long-stored human remains of MOVE members – Philly’s one-time health boss, Thomas Farley – a top gig in the Washington, D.C. health department. Blimey).


Expensive eats

Another set of things that Philly is famous for – shake off though we may try, on occasion – is the whole cheesesteak, Wawa hoagie, and soft pretzels thing that Philly’s Inquirer reminded us on Sunday will get more expensive due to the haunt of COVID’s inflation. I don’t want to be the bad guy where local culinary tradition is concerned, but that stuff’ll kill you when eaten in excess. You know that. And I know that you know that I know that when dining out on the holy unholy trinity of Philly food stuffs, gorgeously gluttonous gorging excess is the name of the game. Where there is one cheesesteak, there are two.

Now. While I am IN NO FUCKING WAY stating that such a fat and carb-loaded trio should be more expensive due to any of Mayor Kenney’s sneaky taxation initiatives (e.g. soda taxes), perhaps having inflation hit Philly’s favorite foods will ward diners away from them much like overpriced cigarettes have done for smokers. How many one-time smokers do I know (I’m one of them) who no longer light up simply because cigarettes cost too damn much. EVEN IN DELAWARE WHERE CIGARETTE CARTON PURCHASING WAS THE ONLY REASON WE EVER VISITED THE DIAMOND STATE. SO maybe curb your cheesesteak, pretzel and hoagie eating – save some money while saving your life just a little longer.

And yes, in case you’re asking, this goes for the whole Herr’s potato chips local roll out of its “Flavored by Philly” campaign and any potential crowdsourced flavors. Because what’s Herr’s in Chester County? You’ll give me $10,000 for a year’s supply of snack food (OMG I’m dead already, I can leave that $10,000 donation to a local nonprofit of my choosing, if I win, to someone in my will). I’m betting that Herr’s won’t pick something lean and slimming and Philadelphian – say Morimoto 20th anniversary sashimi or a Honeygrow Kale salad or even an un-oily Cook-N-Solo Federal Donuts fried chicken.

Hey, I’m just looking out for you, Philly. THEN AGAIN, IF SCRAPPLE GOES UP IN PRICE, AT ALL, I WILL CUT SOMEONE.

Oh, if you’re looking to get your calorie, carb and cholesterol levels up while indulging in the vice of gambling, the Chickie and Pete’s in Malvern is gearing up for off track sports and horse-race betting. I might as well just bring a tall vial of cocaine for extra added zing.


We’re No 5?

Did you know that WalletHub, the personal finance website, released its findings (?!) on 2021’s Best Sports Cities, and ranked Philly fifth? Below Boston and Pittsburgh? OK. Did you know that Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi released his findings on the lamest money managing financial blogs and discovered that WalletHub was the very lamest? And douchiest? When you put it in that perspective, doesn’t WalletHub’s slimy assertion sound even stupider? Turn around. Meet fair play. Just saying.


A hit for The War on Drugs

Icepack is not a place where, and I am not a critic who decides the worth of music or art solely on the basis of its chart success or financial reach (actually, I do only like and dislike records because of their cover art). That said, Philly’s The War on Drugs jumped straight into number three at Billboard’s Top Rock Album charts with its newly released, “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” and bravo to that. Weirdly enough, they got beat out by a bootleg, “Dave’s Picks, Vol. 40: Deer Creek Music Center, Noblesville, IN 7/18/90” from the Grateful Dead, but still….


Masked Philly: Jennifer-Navva Milliken

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 Jennifer-Navva Milliken.

Milliken is the executive director and chief curator for Philadelphia’s Center for Art in Wood, a local hot spot dedicated to what she calls, “stimulating and nurturing creative engagement in wood, AND, as far as we know, it is the only museum of its kind.” While Milliken is normally reluctant to make such a definitive statement, I’ll second that and state as much dogmatically. From there, Art in Wood Center provides opportunities for collaboration, research, and exploration in the material through exhibitions and documentation; programs and events.

Image | Courtesy of Jennifer-Navva Milliken

What Milliken did during COVID’s immediate slowdown was – along with her partner and their dog – fly to Tel Aviv to check in on their families and friends while keeping their Philly work hours intact. “What was meant to be a two-month visit turned into six months, due to extended shutdowns and airport closures,” says Milliken. “Though this was not without negative and stressful repercussions, it was a personal gift to us – we usually only manage to go for a week or two annually. And while I don’t imagine having the chance to skip Philadelphia winters again anytime soon, at least we know these interludes could be stretched out, longer, while maintaining a functional work rhythm.”

When it comes to masks, Milliken is not only pragmatic, but aesthetically driven. “The mask actually presents another opportunity for self-expression, while also being a way to protect the health of ourselves and those around us,” she says. “In many societies, mask-wearing as a way of preventing the spread of viruses has been a practice for many, many years – something I first witnessed when living in Seoul, Korea. Masks are also a reminder that overcoming the pandemic requires effort from every member of a society. Wearing a mask and vaccinating are important individual actions, but insignificant if not undertaken together.”

As for Milliken’s opinion on the vax, she gets that we are incredibly fortunate to live in a time when a safe and effective vaccination can be developed, tested, and made available so quickly. “But we also need to think globally and to take steps to ensure that the world population has access to this vaccination as well as treatments and subsequent boosters (especially as COVID-19 transitions from pandemic to endemic). I would hope that the experience of the pandemic has pushed people to think beyond their immediate borders, with empathy and care.”

And for the immediate present, Milliken’s N. 3rd Street Center for Art in Wood is hosting “Extra-Human: The Art of Michael Ferris,” a study of an artist trained as a painter who left the canvas behind and took up the mantle of reclaimed wood and his adaptation of a traditional Syrian inlay method used in furniture-making.

“His Lebanese-Maronite heritage helped shape the unique visual language that distinguishes his work, while his monumental portrait sculptures honor the people in his life that are closest and dearest to him. In their oversized scale and poses, they fit solidly within the long history of portraiture – they seem ancient and contemporary at the same time. We think that the story of art in wood helps us understand the timeless and sometimes mysterious bond between humankind and nature.”


    • 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 WPPM.org.

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