ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Wrestlers hammering gophers. Brat Packers at the Library. Restaurants hating on Restaurant Week.
I’m not certain at this point who likes Restaurant Week. It short changes diners, wait staffs and misrepresents most every fooderie that enters this limp dick enterprise. That is why I say God bless to Arch Street’s sweetest BYOB Chloe. Not only is its owners/operators Mary Ann Ferrie and Daniel Grimes damn entertaining (and celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary). Old City’s nicest pair host an Anti-Restaurant Week promotion where they’ll give away $10 gift cards to customers who tell them their Restaurant Week woes and horror stories. And no, a dozen of ’em doesn’t get you $120 off.
When big name wrestlers go to Dave & Buster’s what do they do first? Play the way aggressive “bang on the gopher” game near the row of skeeball tables or rip apart the rack of ribs? If you’re as curious as I am, hit up D&B’s at 2 p.m. on Oct. 7 to meet, greet and get autographs from WWE star Edge from South Carolina and ECW sensation Tommy Dreamer from Yonkers.
The good folk at Dark Horse will one day soon become employees of Cavanaugh’s Head House and its Café Bar. The deal has been in place forever. It’s only now — or soon — that the liquor license is ret to transfer.
While its curator Butch Cordoba is off sleeping in a window up town (BoConcept) Ven and Vaida on S. Third Street (next to National Mechanics, know it by its still-fenced in street repair) shows off the work of photographer Amie Potsic and her activist Chinese art inspired by political dissident Ai WeWe.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Bar AIDS drinks for charity. Lauryn Hill rocks onward. Franklin Mortgage rocks upward. Fette Sau inches closer.
Hurry up. If you pick the right place and start drinking right now — could be booze, could be espresso — a percentage of today’s proceeds (Thu., Sept. 27) goes to helping fund four local HIV/AIDS service organizations. That’s the third annual Bar AIDS Philadelphia, the local beneficiaries are ActionAIDS, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, Mazzoni Center and Philadelphia FIGHT and you can call 215-981-3328 or hook up with Bar AIDS Philadelphia on Facebook and Twitter for more info.
Before she hits the Electric Factory with Nas on Nov. 7, Ms. Lauryn Hill will drop that single on Ruffhouse that Chris Schwartz gave me the exclusive news on in August. The track is “Black Rage” and its message is, according to the press statement, meant to be “a juxtaposition to the statement ‘life is good,’ which she believes can only be so when issues of racial inequity are resolved.” Life is Good happens to be the name of Nas’ recent #1 album.
If you’ve driven past Stephen Starr and Joe Carroll’s Fette Sau on Frankford Ave. you know that its wooded smokehouse is ready for smokehouse goodness. But what about a date for the bee-u-tiful BBQ? Folks close to the situation say somewhere in the Oct. 9-15 range.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Samschick Nation vs. Grasso Village / Tom Moon vs. the haters / Carman’s Country Kitchen vs. the world
Old City, what gives? You’re ready for a high end crab shack (Craft & Claw, 126 Chestnut starting Sept. 20 from the desk of Max Tucker and one-time Anastassia’s chef Nick Fabian) and a pricey good old American bistro (Red Owl Tavern at Fifth and Chestnut on Oct. 4 thanks to chef Guillermo Tellez from Square 1682) but you can’t handle a steak house? Bye, Reserve.
Now that realtor/developer Michael Samschick is turning ye old Ajax Metal Company near Frankford and North Delaware into his swanky Canal Street North — complete with C&W eateries, bowling alleys and a 3,000+ seat venue booked and operated in tandem with Live Nation — what will become of the long-discussed (by me) live venue at the corner of Delaware and Spring Garden? For a minute, that corner spot at the old Egypt nightclub complex looked as if it would be the live mid-level venue that Live Nation was looking for since it split with Larry Magid and Bryan Dilworth who together kept the 2000+ person Electric Factory club for themselves. But 3,000 seats is 3,000 seats and whomever got it built first was more-than-likely going to get the Good Housekeeping Live Nation seal. Joe Grasso’s Egypt property will not be denied or ignored and folks from Rumor (Grasso’s after-hours property run by Mark Marek) are on point to open the venue as an all ages DJ-centric/live electronic/nu-rave hot spot called Soundgarden Hall (Columbus & Spring Garden) with Live Nation this Saturday. The Philadelphia City Planning Commission have their work cut out for them.
Carman's Country Kitchen on S. 11th Street is going the way of the Edsel and the 8-track come December and I couldn’t be sadder. Apparently the woman who put “the cunt into country” has a landlord who’d rather open a pizzeria in South Philly (no way!) than host a an always adventurous brunch-a-teria. Carman Luntzel is one of this city’s last great-tasting eccentrics and in 22 years we still haven’t had enough of her wonderful madness. I’ll be eating in her red pickup truck any day now just to feel the wheels beneath my chicken wings.
They said it wouldn’t last and they was wrong: saxophonist Tom Moon’s chamber jazz floating player Tuesday nights at Milkboy Philly is still hot and getting hotter with the reed man claiming that last week’s set with Masami Kuroki, quite possibly the most gifted guitarist in Philly, set a new live music standard. Moon marked his first anniversary at Milkboy on Sept. 18.
It’s not often that a restaurant can sneak under the radar in Philly. Then there’s Sotta, an as-yet un-opened Italian restaurant/café underneath the Walnut Street Bridge, just doors away from what-used-to nightlife hot spots such as the long-closed still-missed El Mariachi and the jazzy 23rd Street Café.
Not every loss is equitable to another. The end of a life is more important, crucial and sad than the demise of a mere television show. I’m saying this so that y’all don’t get upset by my grouping of sorrow-filled endings at the top of Icepack Illustrated. Let’s commence with the death of Tony Goldman. He developed Manhattan’s Upper West Side then pretty much created the idea of SoHo in the ’60s and ’70s and turned those areas from dilapidated to desirable. Miami’s South Beach in the ’80s came next with a similar formula to what he used in NYC, the erection of privately-owned chef-driven restaurant/bars, tony boutiques, nouveau riche condos and such, the usage of existing properties. By the late ’90s Goldman turned his attentions to Philly’s beat up 13th Street red-light area, freaked city councilmen out with his request for tax-increment financing, and re-made this city starting on that block. I was lucky enough to get one of the first ever interviews with Goldman when he came to Philly. I and was (and am) glad to call him a friendly acquaintance.
I can’t say I knew Kyra Kruz, a lovely part of Philly’s transgender community, but my heart always goes out to the boys and girls who bravely respond to what their souls tell them to do with their bodies. That she was slaughtered with no regard in a Fishtown field is a pathetic indication of what this city truly is beyond the bullshit of gentrification. A memorial candlelight vigil will be held tonight (Thu., Sept. 13) at William Way, 13th and Spruce — the same neighborhood that Goldman made glittering.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Yo, Yo La Tengo. Hey, fashionistas. Whoa, Honey Boo Boo Child. Put down the knife, Tony Luke Jr.
How great is the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing? Good enough to hold rock crits Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot (hosts of NPR’s Sound Opinions) a Maker’s Mark tasting and a Yo La Tengo show (the last thing on Sunday) during the second annual WHYY Connections Festival Sept. 6–9. The receptions and booze tastings are for WHYY members only but the YLT show on Sept. 8 is free and for the locals. Tell them you watch Downton Abbey and you’ll fit in just fine. And listen up for live stuff from Andrew Lipke, Charlie Gracie, The Lawsuits, Fabian Akilles and Chicago’s Maps and Atlas throughout the WHYYeekend.
LOOKOUT! TONY LUKE JR.’s GOT A KNIFE! OK, the sous vide cheesesteak king (aka The Nail) isn’t just wildly brandishing a weapon. He’s got his own signature knife made by ErgoChef with a 7” serrated blade that he’s selling in da neighborhood (Fante’s) and uptown (Kitchen Kapers) amongst other spaces.
While the worldwide Fashion’s Night Out celebrates its fourth anniversary with pretty parties hosting editors, models and designers on Sept. 6 (Joan Shepp on Walnut Street and Knit Wit on Chestnut has Philly’s bash), Sept. 11 is the start of The Philadelphia Collection’s forward-fashion events. Beginning that night at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Perleman Building, TPC2012 continues with events at Macy’s (with Pretty Little Liars star Janel Parrish and Philadelphia Fashion Incubator’s designers-in-residence) and Sept. 15’s Christian Siriano appearance at Le Meridien. Swellegant.
If you want Honey Boo Boo Child to endorse your product, just send her something. That’s what the guys at Philly’s Breaking Glass Pictures, Rich Wolff and Justin Cook did. Since the film distributor was releasing its first children’s DVD, After the Wizard, this week they sent a copy to the hotter-than-cornpone reality television star pronto and she just held the damned thing up. Hmmm. Wolff had an even more interesting week when you consider that he took a business lunch with colorful Funkadelic leader George Clinton and his longtime manager at Continental Old City. Clinton had a portabella cheesesteak and the funk was had by all.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Where Beanie goes trouble follows. Where there’s Will, there’s way goodness. Where’s Corey Feldman anyway?
Though due to report to prison in September, City Paper cover subject Beanie Sigel was ready for bear with a just released, critically acclaimed new album This Time and a slew of sensational promotional duties before him. Now, he won’t be around to do Late Night with Jimmy Fallon with his Philly pals in The Roots, or the gig mentioned in a recent Ice Cube that gave the date of his last Philly show (Sept. 8, TLA) before going to federal prison on Sept. 12 on tax evasion charges. Beanie and a pal got snagged in Delaware County on the morning of Aug. 29, hours after This Time was released, on drug, weapons and driver’s license-related charges with a $300,000 cash bail for his troubles. Rather than pay the bail or its 10% fee, Sigel did something wise this time. “He’s starting his federal sentence two weeks early,” says Randy Alexander, publicist for Sigel and his just restarting Conshohocken-based label Ruffhouse. “All of his promotional dates are scratched. Everything’s cancelled. He’ll be picked up from Delaware County jail and taken directly into federal custody.” The label issued a statement from Ruffhouse boss Chris Schwartz. “Obviously, we’re very disappointed. However, Beanie has done nothing but display the utmost professionalism in all the initiatives related to the promotion of his new release. Beanie obviously has been struggling with some personal issues, and we continue to support him now and throughout his impending incarceration.” Alexander says that the label still, of course believes strongly in the record and Beanie as an artist. “We’re going to continue to pursue its promotion with the same ferocity that Beanie made this thing with.” That’s cool for the label, but Beans let me and a whole lot of people around him down with the stupid ass move.
Chef/owner Christopher Kearse’s Will BYOB eatery on East Passyunk opened with a bang last Friday, selling out several seatings with 70+ diners. It could’ve been the crispy skate with the sliver of black garlic paste on the plate, the white chocolate cheesecake, or the dense-yet-delicate corn soup. Mostly, it’s because Kearse has been a legend in Philly cooking circles for years and foodie peeps have been salivating for the moment that he’d open his own spot. Solid, brah.
Hey, so maybe you’re pissed that the parking is skint, that the city is using public land for a pricey all-cash concert, that Chris Cornell ain’t playing and that Mayor Nutter is telling those without Made in America tickets to stay home and download the music. Boo ya. We got the Clydesdales on the corner of 25th & Fairmount today (Aug. 30) at 6:30 p.m.
At the Amorosi household, we grow 14, count ‘em 14 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. That’s why I was ultra-curious about my neighbor chef Kristian Leuzzi’s celebration of the red fruit fresh picked from New Jersey. At first I was insulted about the idea of the chef going outside the neighborhood for tomatoes. But Leuzzi nailed it and proved why Jersey’s such a formidable foe. His Kris’ at 11th & Federal recently restarted his longtime operation (it used to be Kristian’s) with the guys from East Passyunk’s Stogie Joe’s now in on the operation. For Kris’ first big specialty dinner (ongoing through Labor Day), Leuzzi chose a Four-Course Jersey Tomato Dinner with a simple but elegant salt cod and tomato carpaccio with pickled red onion to start, a tomato bruchetta with pan seared dry scallop, a like-mom-made baked rigatoni featuring Jersey tomato, Scamorza, local zucchini and fresh basil and a chicken cutlet Milanese with lemon aioli, Jersey tomato salad and spicy dandelion greens that was truly amazing. Next time I’m trying it with the Italian microbrew Tenute Collesi Imper Ale Rossa.
Speaking of the neighborhood, South Philly’s James Darren plays in Vineland, N.J. on Aug. 24 at the Landis Theater. It’s been a minute since he’s played here but surely the 10th & Ritner native will be up for it what with a Concord label album due for 2013.
That Travel Channel show that La Colombe Coffee owner Todd Carmichael was filming in his Rittenhouse Row salon, Dangerous Grounds, just announced its premiere (Nov. 5, 10 p.m.) with Tuesday showings after that. Luckily, he doesn’t just stick to his 19th Street café for its locations. The always-adventuresome Carmichael hits up Borneo and Bolivia amongst other exotic locales for beans.
I’m not sure why this thrills me: Philly.com reported that Spanx, Sara Blakely’s billion-dollar body shaping girdle, is planning to open its first stores in October with the King of Prussia Mall and Paramus, N.J. as its initial homes. Just saying.
I’m excited that the Cheesesteak Corridor of South Ninth is getting an Underdogs in September and Jason Evenchik’s canned-beer and food-cart Garage in November. But jusssssssst a little bit further down that block at 1309, there’s a tiny blue Mexican grocery store that’s great in a pinch. There have been rumors off-and-on that the location wanted outdoor seating, but for what? Word comes after a Passyunk Square Civic Association meeting, that there are new owners and that the restaurant they’re planning will be more sweet than savory.
Anne Frey’s 1 Tippling Place, the quiet cool toast of Chestnut at 20th, finally got its liquor licenses Wednesday night and will be officially open throughout this weekend.
WHOWHATWHERE: With just days left until they leave town until December, the stars of Paranoia are sticking near-by their lodgings with Harrison Ford hitting Rouge, Lucas Till outside Parc and Gary Oldman spied going into Del Frisco’s. Nu-R&B crooner Trey Songz was all over town on Wednesday promoting his new Chapter V joint. First Songz visited POWER 99 in Bala Cynwyd, then he hit up FYE on Broad Street for a CD signing, then he stopped by Vango to hear some cool grooves — his own. Tweens thrilled by Miley Cyrus’ Sherman’s March-like attack on Old City the other day should have been enthused by pop kid Austin Mahone’s visit with on-air jock Maxwell at Q102 FM. Also cramming into Philly’s radio stations was American Idol victor Phil Phillips at MIX 106.1, Marina and the Diamonds who played the Q102 iHeart Radio Performance Theater and Alice Cooper guitarist Ryan Roxie who visited the illustrious peackcock-ish Jacky BamBam at 93.3 WMMR.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: ?uestlove is an Okayplayer. Meek has more tickets available. Harrison hits R2L and Parc. Brauhaus Schmitz knows what VIPs want.
I know that you know that I know how busy a man ?uestlove is. Drumming on and composing for the next Roots album. Working for Jimmy Fallon. Making a helluva fried chicken. Yet, it’s obvious that Okayplayer.com, ?uest’s ministry of information and merch since 1999, has been on his mind. It used to also be a record label that he watched over like a hawk until 2004. Okayplayer’s final offering was the True Notes Vol 1 compilation. That is until now, as ?uestlove has announced the label’s re-launch as a digital-only (for now) outlet with albums coming from Atlanta rapper/producer Danny! (another man with a punctuation mark in his name, great minds, right) and recording engineer/break beats maker Young Guru. Danny!’s Payback album comes out on Sept. 25, Young Guru’s instrumental album Essentials Vol 1 is due for Oct. 9 release. Catch some zzzs, Q.
Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street may indeed be currently busy with construction and bulging outward into its neighboring address. But that hasn’t stopped it from thinking about what’s important: Oktoberfest and what VIPs who’ll attend their German-based beer-and-brat boom really need: more bathrooms. The Schmitz is running a VIP package special for their Sept. 29 bash where $100 gets you elite usage of five private bathrooms, a VIP food list and your own beer stein with six tix to fill it. Hit up 267-909-8814 or email@example.com.
There’s a live bootleg of ’80s faves Blondie making its way to market which has several tracks culled from a soundboard mix from a November 1978 show at Philly’s Walnut Street Theater that I dare tell you I attended as a yout along with other cool WST gigs such as those with Talking Heads, Undertones and The Clash. Picture This Live can be found here.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Jane G, Bradley Cooper and Dr. J come home. Frank Rizzo gets fixed. Wiz K gets a crowd.
Parinda Patel, the Philadelphia Film Society and Filmadelphia.org just confirmed that which we had been telling people anyway: that Jenkintown’s Bradley Cooper will definitely be at The Words premiere at the Prince Music Theater on Aug. 27 with Philadelphia natives and the film’s writers/directors Brian Klugman (Without a Trace) and Lee Sternthal (Tron: Legacy) along for the ride. What no Zoe Saldana, Coop’s co-star and love interest? Tell her we’ll screen Snipes and watch her eyes bulge.
Jane Guo you have been sorely missed. The one-time owner of the late, great Noodle Heaven on Broad Street finally opened her tony Pan Asian eatery (and drinkery, we love the ginger beer and vodka cocktails) Jane G at the off-Rittenhouse address of 1930 Chestnut. The ex-Blockbuster Video location is perfect for the wide Jane G, its long cocktail hot spot, its opulent raw bar display (the lobster just spills out), its glass-enclosed semi-open kitchen and chef Michael Chan’s menu options ranging from seafood bouillabaisse and turkey edamame with truffle dumpling to lamb chops and kebabs. We stopped by on its semi-soft opening weekend and was told by Ms. G that Aug. 12-15 was looking more like the grand pop.
Dani Mari and Reverend TJ McGlinchey have two steamy festival dates at FDR Park on Pattison Ave. in August and they’re doozies. Aug. 10 stars Thom McCarthy and Toy Soldiers. Aug. 31 features Johnny Miles and Ben Arnold. Bring a fan. Not a blowie thing to help cool yourself but someone who actually likes Arnold. Had to do it, Ben. Twenty years later and it’s never NOT funny to nag you.
Philly knows her as the hostess-with-the-mostest from the Dollhouse Revue. Reality show lovers know her as the lass who lifted up fellow d-queen India Ferrah during season three of RuPaul’s Drag Race during the lip-sync competition. This October though you’ll get to know localite socialite Mimi Imfurst all over again when she walks for realness on this next season of Drag Race. Rev yer engines, gurls.
The day after the recently defaced Frank Rizzo mural on Ninth Street in the Italian Market started its healing process (a lady on a crane has been painting over the black Rorshach splotch with beige face tones), Joanna Mastronardo, daughter of Philly’s late mayor, was arrested for her alleged role in a gazillion-dollar sports-betting operation supposedly run by her husband, Joe Vito Mastronardo. That mural lady better paint a blindfold over Franny’s eyes until this shit blows over.
I’m in love with Space 1026 fun duo Andrew Jeffrey Wright and Rose Luardo’s brand new video by their New Dreamz dance team. “It’s a music video for my friend Hisham Bharoocha’s band Soft Circle,” says Wright who promised I would adore the track and their masked dance. You will too.
Drummer, producer and filmmaker George Manney helps kick off the Legendary Dobbs’ Liberty Music Conference (Aug. 14-19, libertymusicfest.com) with a screening of his Meet Me on South Street flick about the bar’s 1975-1996 roots Aug. 16, 7 p.m. The film was added to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in April. Be it.
American Sardine Bar can’t catch a break. First there’s all the Point Breeze neighborhood issues. Then there’s the word that the can-loving (beer, not the experimental German band) ASB had an acoustic show on an upstairs stage and that neighbors complained. Ws it really loud strumming? No matter. We hear that Sardine is going ahead with more live band business.
Mothers lock up your daughters. No seriously you don’t want your kids anywhere near Channel 29 until we figure out the schedule of one Howard Eskin who was named the station’s sports anchor. Yes that includes Good Day Philadelphia drop-ins. Help us, Mike Jerrick. Save us.
WHOWHATWHERE: Dr. J, Freeway, Young Chris and Beanie Sigel. Hey, which of those guys isn’t in State Property? No matter. That new quarter hit up the Converse block party at 52nd & Market. Julius Erving also shilled for Converse when he stopped by the Ubiq Life Store on Walnut Street with producer Swizz Beats in tow. While Swizz was doing the business of the shoe, his wife, singer Alicia Keys was spied noshing and drinking with a friend at Jar Bar on S. 11th Street. Word has it the pair stayed at the Ritz Carlton while on their raw food and leather hunt. Jewish Federation president Sherrie R. Savett got a crack at the pitcher’s mound when she tossed out the first pitch during Jewish Heritage Night at the Phillies game. Before heading to their sold out show on Penn’s Landing, the trio of boys that is Fun. stopped by Radio 104.5’s Pool Party at North Shore Beach Club. Same thing happened with Wiz Kalifah. Before joining fellow Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller for their sold out stoner show at Susquehanna Bank Center In Camden, Amber Rose’s fiancé joined Clear Channel radio goddess Loraine Morrell at Power 99’s studios. So did Estelle, John Legend’s old duet partner, stop by the station before her soulful tour stop at World Café Live. Meanwhile, Keyshia Cole just hung around Power 99 showing her new platinum colored hairdo, leaving The Darkness and Our Lady Peace to visit Radio 104.5 and keep their limp locks to themselves.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Who’s booking Snooki? Where’s Tony Luke Jr.? Why did Keith Peirce write a tribute to Rick D?
With Little Baby's Ice Cream gearing up for tomorrow's brick-and-mortar opening, what of their neighbors, Brian Dwyer and his Pizza Brain crew who helped get the party started between them when they partnered for the double wide location on the 2300 block. How much longer do we have to wait for Dwyer’s dough-n-gravy museum/old-school pizza shop opening? “Since day one we always planned to have Little Baby’s first, and us second,” says Dwyer. “Hopefully we’re not too far behind.” The last time I was at Pizza Brain, the reclaimed tin roof was up with the shelving and peep holes of Dwyer’s curated cheese-arium being readied so it should be ... very soon.
Keith Richard Peirce of Northern Arms Philly fame hasn’t been around for a minute. A Hemingway-esque exile in Florida’s gulf is what Peirce has become. Now, though, Peirce is getting ready to move back home to Philly between September and October with plans including a new Northern Arms record. Good, good. But what about right now? In the immediate, Peirce and Eric “Whorehouse” Bandel just recorded what they are calling a hymn to Rick Dombrowski, the late, great Rick D whose shuttered-n-sold Tritone on South Street just re-opened (courtesy Chris Fetfatzes and Heather Annechiarico of Hawthornes) as The Cambridge on Aug. 1. It's now a sour-beer-bottle-heavy, six-pack-to-go-selling pierogi, chicken and corned beef joint. The song that Peirce and Bendel wrote is called “Last Horse” and it’s a swet send off to an old friend. “Eric drove 1,300 miles — from Brooklyn to the Gulf Coast of Florida — just to work on this song,” says Peirce. “We wrote a germ of it right after Rick died and it bothered us over the years for not finishing it. We knew we had to. Eric could have waited until I returned but he drove here and we locked down the house for four days, wrote the rest and recorded it. I'm glad we did it this way.” As Peirce “certainly wants everyone who loved or cared about him to have it,” he is planning a possible iTunes drop shortly. Keep you posted.
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