My Young Life: April Wants A Dog – 1978 – Part Two

This piece is dedicated to my middle sister April.

We’re all very upset and don’t know what to do. After pleading our case to dad, my father speaks:

“Let me take her to the shore for a couple of weeks.”

“You think it’ll work, dad?”

“I raised you four kids didn’t I?”

We were all relieved. We hated the idea of giving up on the dog and also happy we were all getting  break from this mad beast.

April was still sad and so was my mom. My mother always had a sweet spot in her heart for children and animals. They were the innocents. She trusted that my father could help.

He put the dog in his car that Sunday, with a bag of chow and her bowls and bedding. He had also checked a few books out of the library about training dogs. My father loved books and they built his entire modern mind. April was crying and my mother was sad as well as he loaded the car.

I watched as my father backed out of the driveway and we all waved and prayed for the best.

We didn’t see him for two weeks. Me at sixteen was relieved because it was just a more peaceful household without my dad and the dog.

My mother, sisters and I went about our normal routines.

I spoke with my father on the phone after the first week. I asked him how it was going. He said he took the dog to the beach early each morning before work. He would run her through short training exercises. He told me that when he was in the army he had a shepherd named Babe. He loved that dog.

He said he would take our dog through her paces each morning. He’d even let her run free and chase the birds on the beach. The dog loved being free on the beach by the sea each day. It must have been a little confusing for the dog initially to be transported to this foreign place with this alpha male she barely knew.

“What happens if she doesn’t come when you call her?”

“When I finally get the leash on her, I have a very tight rein on her and take her straight home. Her little nails are hardly touching the ground.”

This seemed harsh to me, but this was an animal, not a child. I always thought my dad was too hard on me, but he did teach me manners, and to be a disciplined, respectful boy. It’s no different with a dog. Discipline, love, affection and consistency.

Sounds like sound parenting to me.

Two weeks pass. It’s Friday night. Dad’s car rolls into the driveway. We’re all apprehensive. He gets out of his car. I remember how cool he looked in his brown suit and tie. He walks around to the back passenger door on the other side of his car and with leash in hand, brings forth our dog.

We don’t know what to expect.

My father stands before us with our black Lab. She is standing by his side. Her thick, rope-like tail is wagging. We hope she’s happy to see us after we banished her to a two-week stint in the hole with dad.

“Sit.”

The dog sits down next to him.

“Stay.”

He unhooks the leash. He walks toward my mother and hugs and kisses her. He hugs each of us.

The dog doesn’t move.

“Come on.”

The dog comes forward and joins the family in a hug. We’re all petting her and she’s so excited to see us. Frankly I’m amazed at the transformation.

My father opens the door to our house and tells her to go in. Mom has food and fresh water waiting for her. She goes into the kitchen and digs in.

“What did you do?”

“Love, consistency, discipline, repetition and reward. Just like we raised our kids.”

He smiles and I hug him. Good to see you, dad. Thank you.”

Everyone is happy and tearing up. It was like he brought home a different dog. The dog was chill and obedient and happy. He totally fixed our dog!

But did he? No. The dog was fine. But like any child it needed to be trained. This is my biggest complaints about todays parents, but you’ve all read my laments about that in this blog. (Rob and Laura – Thanksgiving)

I took her out for a walk and she didn’t pull once. She walked peacefully next to me. I would get to the corner and she would automatically sit down. I could have crossed the street and she wouldn’t move. I would have to say a command and she would stand up and cross with me.

After that two weeks with my dad, the dog was a perfect angel. Protector of the family and loyal friend. We all loved her dearly.

 

A few years later…

We were at the shore house in the summer. I was older and had no curfew. I would come home late, like three in the morning. I’d put my key in the door and go in the house. The dog wouldn’t even stir.

I asked my dad about this.

“She’s great but what kind of guard dog is this?”

“I roll in at all hours and I could be any intruder and she doesn’t even wake up.”

“Son… when you quietly open the gate and come up the driveway. She awakens and hears you. She hears your footfall as you approach the house. No matter what time it is, the moment you open the door she smells your scent and knows it’s you. That’s why she doesn’t get up. You’re family and she knows it.”

I found that all hard to believe but if dogs have more acute senses than we do when it comes to everything, I get it.

One night it was put to the test.

I’m out rockin’ and rollin’ at the clubs in Wildwood as usual. I get home. It’s the middle of the night. Easily well after two in the morning.

Shit. I forgot my key. But I’m seventeen and a lean dude. I put my foot on the back railing and hoist myself up onto the roof of our shower rooms on the back of the house. (My dad built the two outdoor shower rooms so we could all clean up and get the sand off of ourselves when we would return from the beach.)

I climb up on the roof of the showers, and then reach for the railing of the back deck that is just off my bedroom. (I’m doing this drunk mind you… Oh, youth!) I pull myself over to the ledge, and holding onto the railing flip myself over onto the balcony. Genius move!

I know that sliding glass door is usually unlocked because what idiot would ever attempt that move? I grab the handle and begin to slide it open.

I’m about to go in when all I see is this black snout and bared fangs. I hear a low growl that shakes me to my core.

“Hey! It’s me!”

Then I hear the familiar thump of that thick rope-like tail wagging like crazy.

She’s a good guard dog! She heard something different and immediately awakened and went to investigate… and defend the property and it’s occupants. I never forgot that story and have told it to many dog lovers through the years.

 

As the dog got older, like most large dogs they get some grey whiskers and their hips aren’t what they once were. My mother suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for most of her adult life. But she would take our dog out for a walk daily.

“We have to both go slowly now. We’re like a couple of old girls out for a stroll.”

Our dog was a beloved member of our family for fourteen years. A wonderful member of this family that we’ll never forget.

Oh… I never mentioned what April named the dog.

I did that on purpose.

Her name is the feminine version of the Latin name, Maximus.

April named our dog, MAXINE.

It means, the Greatest, or Bright and Noble.

 

Well done, April.

 

Maxine passed in 1991, and my parents are both gone as well.

But we hold them all in our hearts until the day we join them.

 

Then we’ll all be equal.

 

I think this sums it up.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

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My Young Life: April Wants A Dog – 1978 – Part One

This piece is dedicated to my middle sister April.

My middle sister April always wanted to get a dog. So my parents finally relented and agreed.

She knew exactly the kind of dog she wanted. A black Labrador Retriever. Had to be female.

I remember the day my father, my sister, and I drove up to where we were to get the dog. It was somewhere in rural Pennsylvania.

We get to the house and met a nice older couple who bred dogs. They take us down the basement and there is the parents of what appears to be six crazy puppies running around everywhere. Literally bumping into our legs. They’re all black and the scene is chaotic.

My father wanted a pure bred animal so he found these folks who had papers on the father and mother’s pedigrees.

The gentleman is picking up the puppies one by one and checking the sex of each one. He finally finds the only female. She’s naturally a bit smaller than the males but that fairly common. She’s a cute little nugget head.

My dad does the necessary paperwork and payment and we’re off with a new puppy dog! I don’t even know what we got her home in. Was she in April’s lap, in a little box, or a carrier? I just don’t remember.

I do remember getting her home and we set her on the floor. She ran through the kitchen and then under the dining room table. I follow her and see the first thing she did upon arriving in her new home, was to go to the bathroom on the carpet under the table.

“Mom! The dog is doing its business under the table!”

“Come grab a wet rag and wipe it up.”

“It’s not the kind you can clean up with a rag, Mom!”

“Oh my God!”

The dog had been in residence for less than a minute and managed to shit on the dining room floor.

But that’s normal puppy stuff. It usually isn’t long before they want to go outside to do their business. Dogs are den dwellers. They don’t foul their nests.

The Labrador Retriever, or just Labrador, is a type of retriever-gun dog. The Labrador is one of the most popular breeds of dog in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

A favorite disability assistance breed in many countries, Labradors are frequently trained to aid the blind, those who have autism, to act as a therapy dog, or to perform screening and detection work for law enforcement and other official agencies. Additionally, they are prized as sporting and hunting dogs.

A few kennels breeding their ancestors, the St. John’s water dog, were in England. At the same time, a combination of the sheep protection policy in Newfoundland and rabies quarantine in the United Kingdom, led to the gradual demise of the St. John’s water dog in Canada.

In the 1830s, the 10th Earl of Home and his nephews the 5th Duke of Buccleuch and Lord John Scott, had imported progenitors of the breed from Newfoundland to Europe for use as gun dogs. Another early advocate of these Newfoundland dogs, or Labrador Retrievers as they later became known, was the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury who bred them for their expertise in waterfowling.

During the 1880s, the 3rd Earl of Malmesbury, the 6th Duke of Buccleuch and the 12th Earl of Home collaborated to develop and establish the modern Labrador breed. The dogs Buccleuch Avon and Buccleuch Ned, given by Malmesbury to Buccleuch, were mated with bitches carrying blood from those originally imported by the 5th Duke and the 10th Earl of Home. The offspring are considered to be the ancestors of modern Labradors.

The dog was a bit rambunctious. But I had never owned a dog so I didn’t know what they were like to live with. It seemed like many of our neighbors had dogs, mostly German shepherds. (That was a very popular breed back in the 60’s and 70’s.

As she grew, she would sometimes have these snap fits. No biting. That never happened. But she would start running through the house like a rabid dog. We didn’t have wall to wall carpets back then. Just hardwood floors with large area rugs throughout the house. The force and thrust generated by this dog would literally roll up the carpets during her trajectory. My little sisters and I would just leap up onto the furniture in the living room to get out of her way.

My mother would just open the back door leading to the yard and out she’d go. Running like and animal possessed.

The dog chewed up and destroyed a few things in the house. One time I went into my room and saw that the entire back of one of my sneakers had been bitten clean off. It looked like a billiard ball sized shark bite. The shoe was ruined.

Another time I walked into my room and one of my songbooks was ripped apart. I flipped out. That was a book of lyrics and chords of original songs I had written.

“Mom! Look what the dog did!”

“You shouldn’t have left it on the floor.”

“Sigh…”

Things were getting worse. The dog would pull when you tried to walk her. I mean like pulling really hard and gasping. I couldn’t understand why the dog would choke herself like this. But again, I knew nothing about raising a dog. I was just a teen dude that wanted to play guitar and write songs. The dog was just kind of pain in the ass.

Sometimes she would get out and run away. We’d find her up the street and have to chase her around and bring her back.

Remember during this time we were living in Philly and my dad was working at a bank down the shore. He would just swing in on the weekends. We were all cool with that, but we were all getting to a breaking point with this feral animal. It was time for a family meeting.

So when dad returned on the weekend, we all sat down at the dinner table as a family and talked out the situation. We all explained our feelings about the situation. It was like a court case. Everyone had input. Even my baby sister Gabrielle.

There was talk of getting rid of the animal. Most of us were leaning towards that. We really were at our wits end. I can see my sister April’s face even today. A grimace of mute protest. Tears streaming down her face. She must have felt terrible. She was the middle kid. She was the one that was always fighting to get attention. Not Janice the number one first-born and daddy’s favorite. Not the son. Not the baby Gabby. So well-behaved and intelligent. She was just April in the middle. I never felt that way about her. I always thought of April as the one who was tough on the outside but would give you her last dollar and the shirt off her back if you needed it. I always considered her the most beautiful of all of the children in the family. She was always my little pal growing up. We used to play together and fight like any other siblings, but we always made up.

It was breaking her heart. We were all visibly upset. We took this little pup from its parents and brothers and now we were talking about banishing her from our lives.

We pleaded our case and we need to reach some sort of resolution. A decision needed to be made.

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion to this story.

 

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

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Dina – 2011 to Present – In The Vault

“These clowns come in and are fans of Prova and act like crazy drunk, loud assholes. I fucking hate that. I literally want to call the cops and say these middle eastern looking guys were talking about taking flying lessons and not landing lessons and there was talk about the new Comcast tower being built.

They were that annoying.”

I crush it at the salon on a Saturday because I’ll be gone for 3 days. Dina, my friend and broker and I meet up at 1518 Bar & Grille. She’s 4’11” and adorable. She also has the metabolism of a bee. She loves Smores, fried chicken, Oreos, and ice cream.

Dina orders a lemon martini. I’m on my 2nd straight up with a twist and Asha the bartender hooks me up with house but it’s Ketel One.

She looks hot.  Boots, dark jeans, and custom leather jacket. Cute as hell. Dark curls tumble about her shoulders and of course that hot pouty mouth of hers.

I introduce her to  her to Prova the bartender. (See: Prova – 2015 to Present – Glow of the Sun) She looks amazing as always. Those dimples!

These clowns come in and are fans of Prova and act like crazy drunk, loud assholes. I fucking hate that. I literally want to call the cops and say these middle eastern looking guys were talking about taking flying lessons and not landing lessons and there was talk about the new Comcast tower being built.

They were that annoying.

Dina is amazing. She’s such a no bullshit girl who is so sure about herself. I love her plus she looks 18. I always knew she was too good for any life or job i saw her in. I’m also happy her husband is such a chill solid pup he doesn’t mind his hot wife hanging out with the Dark Lord and having drinks.

We need to get out of here. These Indian guys suck. So loud and annoying. I can’t think straight.

We close out and I let the staff know that there’s no hard feelings but that’s why we’re leaving. We need to talk and I need to hear her. I miss my friend.

We never go out on Saturday night. It’s all young drunk people around city. The women are extraordinary though.

We decide to check out Square 1682 but the staff sucks and we head to Sofitel. Liam is on and so is the waitress who likes to go topless when she gets drunk. Let’s just call her Tulip. I usually do a rock trivia thing with Liam but tonight I have a different one.

“You wake up and look out your front door and see the sun rise out of the Atlantic Ocean. Later that day, you walk out your back door and watch the sun set in the Pacific Ocean. Where is your house?”

Tulip looks great and I intro Dina to the crew. The bar is full so we sit and a quiet table in the lounge, which is glorious. Tulip brings a snack tray for Dina because as we all know, she loves to eat.

Dina’s happy and we order wine. She’s hungry, so more food is on the way. I got the drinks at 1518 but I know she’ll cover everything from here which is clutch.

We catch up on my life. Daughter Lorelei, the fitness center I should be opening in Rittenhouse in the next 60 days, and what’s happening with this blog, the book, and TV series we’re developing about it. Dina and her husband just settled on a house in Rittenhouse so I love that they’ll be in the neighborhood with us.

Liam is texting me solutions to my puzzle and they’re all wrong.

She says she has a strange story about a former colleague of mine. This person has since cut me off a couple of years ago for no apparent reason, but he likes to keep weak inferiors around him, and I hate his friends and wife anyway so its no loss to me. We could have been mighty but he never did what he was supposed to do with the business so now it’s just a trust fund baby’s way to play work. I loved the guy, but he has to make the juvenile choices he needs to make.

She tells me about this dinner she had with this other dude, I used to know that always had a thing for her. He’s harmless. We all still think he’s a virgin, so there’s that. He’s a really smart guy that is always super excited about everything that is before him, and it comes off as childish. I like the guy, but to me he’s just a bore.

If he would just get laid he’d probably chill out and get a different perspective on everything. I hate to say that, but that would probably fix his ass.

She goes to this dinner with this guy, as a friend or a wing woman or whatever with my former colleague and his horrible wife. I remember Everybody hated this guy’s wife years ago. She’s awful. She’s kind of hot. But only in the sense that if I were marooned on a desert island with her I would bang her for a few months but it would only be a matter of time before I became so annoyed with her that I would eventually kill her and eat her to survive just to not have to listen to her endless bullshit.

So they have their awkward dinner, little virgin guy gets an UBER with Dina back to Rittehouse. He gets in the car with her and says:

“So they are separated. She wanted it.”

I know this guy has a pre-nup so he’s well protected in regard to his daddy’s loot.

“Really?”

She thinks the wife is awful just like the rest of us.

“Yea, he went to an event and told her he could only get one ticket because they were really expensive, but he went with is new editor.”

“Oh wow. That’s a shame.”

“Yea, and his wife is living at the house, (because she doesn’t earn shit) and he said he’s living at a hotel but he’s really living with new editor girlfriend at an apartment somewhere.”

I am not shocked about this news because I knew he was miserable with that harpy years ago. She cheated on him in college and is crazy. She has destroyed property at the house, assaulted people at concerts, fights with him all the time, withholds sex all the time, has flushed his weed, and cigars, and is just an all around child who behaves as if she has fetal alcohol syndrome. Thank God she never wanted kids, because he dodged a huge child support bullet and should just cut that beast loose.

But he’s cut me off and I take that as a smite to me. I loved the guy and we were tight. I don’t know hat’s happened to him, but I’m sure he’s in a world of pain right now. I hope he gets through it okay, but I’m German and so is he, and if you read this dude, then schadenfreude is a bitch baby.

Karma can be a real fucker. You reap what you sow. You make bad life choices and that shit comes back on you like a hurricane. I just hope he can cash her out and flush her from his life and hopefully move on with the new mistress he’s fucking.

Dina and I eat and drink like Gods at Sofitel and I’m happy just to have her in my presence and hear her voice. I adore her. She’s so sound as a woman. I wish I could replicate her into five more to hang out with. Maybe a lawyer, and accountant Dina would be a start.

I go out for a smoke and she pays the bill. (Love her!) We both trust each other implicitly with all of our honesty and the relationship is wonderful. She takes care of my money and knows how to keep her mouth shut. Obviously we discuss everything that’s going on in our lives and it’s so intimate that I can’t talk about it here but maybe someday if this becomes a TV show our characters can talk about children, and marriage, but I can’t divulge our secrets here. Don’t worry’s it’s not that exciting, but this is a dating blog and not a forum for right and wrong.

We decide to head out and Dina needs Ben & Jerry’s. Of course I stand and put her leather jacket on her slight frame. You have to be a gentleman 100% of the time with everyone, guys.

We step out into the night. It’s stopped raining and the street is wet and the air is cool.

Happily there’s a store half way down the block from the hotel bar and it’s still open. I’m a wine, cocktail and carb guy. I’m just not really into sweets or dairy anymore. It doesn’t agree with my physiology. Middle age. But she’s 28 and looks 18 and loves sweets. She says we MUST stop there. I’ve walked by the place a hundred times and have had no desire to ever climb the steps and go in. (Even on National Ice Cream Day, where they give away free cones all day!)

We go in and this is alien to me. I never go into ice cream parlors. It’s clean and bright. I like it but prefer a dark bar.

The kid with the hat and dreds and tie-dye shirt is sweet and articulate. He knows his products. I always admire that. Dina knows this place so well that if she asks for endless samples of every crazy flavor combination they will let her put them in her mouth endlessly. I have this arrangement with Prova but she does it for me with craft beers so I get it. The ice cream flavors seem delicious, and she devours a few samples lovingly.  She encourages me to partake in the samples but I know what rich dairy will do to my colon so I only do one. It is some sort of chocolate, vanilla, cookies and nuts and crushed cone concoction. It is exquisite in my mouth.

I get it. But there are things in my life now that are far sweeter than any frozen treat can match.

Dina decides on some lethal combo and they put it all on a sugar cone. This is actually a really sweet moment in my mind. I adore Dina. I trust her with my money and my secrets. She’s one of my favorite people in my life.

I’m not getting an ice cream cone but this reminds me of some of the sweet romantic moments of my young life. Getting an ice cream cone with a young pretty girl on a Saturday night. She manages my financial portfolio and is a trusted friend but in this moment I am just happy to walk her home.

She’s loving her ice cream cone as we stroll through Rittenhouse with me walking on the inside so she doesn’t get splashed by a passing car.

I love this.

I like walking her home to her stoop and giving her a hug goodnight. We promise to keep in touch and have a lunch in our future. She unlocks her door and goes back to her husband and her little dog Lily.

I light a cig and walk home. The streets are wet and slick. They reflect the lights and sounds of the city. I’m happy after a long day at the salon, and a sweet night with a feiend.

I look forward to tomorrow.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish Monday through Friday at 8am EST.

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Crazy Dating Stories: Antonia – 2012 – Possibly a Mob Front?

“The square shaped balding man burst through the kitchen door with two glasses of water for us, and in a very loud and deep voice, he explained that it was his birthday, and we would eat what he felt like making us.”

Well, this one time I took my friend Antonia to dinner at (what seemed to be) a front for some type of illicit activity.

She had just moved to a new area, and we wanted to check out the local shops and restaurants. While we were wandering, we stumbled into a tiny Italian place. Back home, the small hole-in-the-wall restaurants always have the best food, so we were excited to give it a shot. Big curtains were covering the entry windows, so we had no idea what was inside until we trudged through the door.

Inside, we were met with emptiness and silence. We both immediately thought the place was closed, and I spun around and searched for the store hours posted somewhere on the door. While I was looking, we heard a heavy THUD as a young woman barked “I’ll be right with you!”

She appeared, greeted us confusingly, and asked us ‘what she could do for us’. Which, looking back, is probably a red flag. But we were naive and hungry, so we said we were there for dinner. She looked puzzled but motioned us to follow her to a booth right by the entrance.

She then disappeared into the back, and we heard a muffled conversation between our hostess and a man. The consensus was basically they were not prepared for us or didn’t know how to proceed. I asked my date if she wanted to split, but she insisted we stay for the story.

The square shaped balding man burst through the kitchen door with two glasses of water for us, and in a very loud and deep voice, he explained that it was his birthday, and we would eat what he felt like making us. We whole-heartedly agreed.

We waited around thirty minutes, and he again returned with three large bowls of spaghetti and meat sauce. He placed two bowls in front of us, and one next to me for himself. He sat with us and ate. We had light and awkward conversation with him during, and he kept asking us jokingly if we were cops or with the health board. He was incredibly nervous about us, so my date kept cracking corny puns or awful jokes because he would forcibly laugh at anything designed with humor. We talked about our lives, the cities we’ve lived in, our pets (he had a teacup Chihuahua named Princess) and his wife.

He decided we were good people and didn’t charge us for the meal. We wished him a happy birthday, he hugged us, and we went on our way. Easily the best spaghetti I’ve ever had in my life. The restaurant, unfortunately, no longer exists.

 

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Prova – 2015 to Present – Glow of the Sun – Many Happy Hours

“The girl with the lovely smile…”

Finally caught up with busy girl Prova! I had three appointments before my meeting with her that day. The first was with some clown from Brown Forman. I emailed him to confirm our lunch meeting and he responded with “I’d rather do this as a phone call.” So I cancelled that appointment. My second appointment was with the General Manager at The Hard Rock Cafe at 12th and Market. But VP Mike Pence was in town, and President Trump was coming the next day and staying at the Lowe’s Hotel right across the street.  The streets were all blocked, and when I got there the GM said he’s got the Secret Service here and could we do this another day? I see that this part of the city is a shit show so I tell him we’ll reschedule. Then my 3:30 meeting with hot redhead Cheyanne, (whom I’ve been meaning to write about but we can never get our schedules together) gets cancelled, because Cheyanne had been complaining about a migraine she’s been fighting all day. So that’s three down, and one more chance to go before I just give up and go home.

I check in with Prova and she is on her way. We decided to try some different places that we had previously discussed. (See Prova – 2015 to Present – Glow of the Sun) I meet her at Frankie Bradley’s. That bar formerly was a gay bar that was pretty much exclusively for lesbians. (It was called Sisters) But now it’s what I think is just a regular neighborhood bar. Based on some of the signage out front, I think they do a lot of drag shows there. Anyway, it’s a good spot to hang out. We catch up and have a couple of drinks. She tells me she had recently applied for a job there as a bartender. We get a hold of the manager and he comes over to chat. She tells him that she had applied, and he asks her to send him an email and reference her resume. So maybe our lady Prova will be working there soon. It seems like a nice place. We tell the bartender we’re trying some new bars, and he suggests Toast on Walnut. So after we pay our bill we go there.

Toast on Walnut is what the owners from “Sisters” made their new bar. So we walk in and there is a young lady at the door, who cards Prova. She doesn’t card me and I fret that I’m obviously over twenty-one. We all laugh and she asks to see my ID.

Inside it’s a nice bar. The bar itself is whitish blue and appears to be illuminated from within. I stick with the vodka and club and Prova sips a red wine. There aren’t many people in the place, but it’s early. The place is so new, it even smells new! Fresh wood and leather. We decide we’re only going to have one here, and then we’re going to go somewhere else. It’s a nice place but it just seems dead at the moment. So before we leave I tell Prova that I’m going to use the restroom. I walk back through all of the rainbow-colored lights, and walk into the bathroom.

Surprisingly, there is a dude in there using the urinal. But they aren’t your typical urinals. They’re not the vertical, rectangular boxes, with privacy barriers on the sides. These are just oval-shaped deep bowls sticking out of the walls, with no barriers. He’s shaking his dragon away in that little bowl, and I decide to use the stall. I just need a little privacy. I do what needs to be done and I come out of the stall, and see a woman with dark hair drying her hands at the sink.

It’s Prova!

Apparently, they must only have the one community restroom. I was shocked to see her at first.

“What are you doing in here?”

“I just wanted to wash my hands.”

“What if I’d been using one of those little urinal bowls over there when you walked in?”

“I don’t know.”

“You would have gotten a glimpse of what everybody in town is talking about!”

Honest mistake! But that was a close call I wasn’t expecting in a lesbian themed bar. We decide to head over to Boxers. That’s another gay bar on Walnut. It’s a sports bar. But all of the bartenders and staff, walk around with no shirts on. So even though it’s primarily a gay bar, there’s always something for the ladies to look at. All the guys are young and in great shape. I actually like going to boxers. I’ve been there twice. Both times with female friends. Think about it… If you’re a straight guy with female friends it’s the perfect spot. You’re able to watch sports, drink and eat. No assholes are going to mess with you or your friend, because gay dudes are nice. Your friend gets to take in the eye candy, and you do your thing. Everybody wins. We have gentleman’s clubs, at least it gives the ladies something to look at when their out with their male friends. I know most men don’t have female friends. But the men reading this should try. All women that like hanging out with you aren’t targets for you to try to bang. We’d all be better men if we had more female friends. Do it!

We order up some pizza and nachos and go to town on that. We were both hungry so we destroyed most of it. We enjoyed a few drinks there and chatted with the friendly staff. They used to have these drink cards that they would hand out. Every time you bought a drink they gave you a card and the next one was super cheap. So it kept you at the bar longer. It was a great deal! But I asked about it when I was there and the guys told me they can only do that in their NYC location now. When asked why, they said that it’s unlawful in Pennsylvania to encourage people to drink more. Technically it’s not, but it does keep you drinking more and for a longer period of time. PA has a lot of liquor laws because it’s controlled by the Alcohol and Liquor Control Board, which is a state-run agency.

Satisfied with our excursion into the Gayborhood, we decided to have a nightcap at the bar where she works. We hung out at a table and she had a beer and I stick with the vodka and club I had been drinking all night. Some of her co-workers would stop by the table and chit-chat. It was great. There is one guy there, I forget his name, but he’s really funny to talk to. I think he’s Prova’s favorite there.

Prova is a lovely, smart woman who I am glad to have as a friend. I like spending time with her. She continues on her spiritual journey of self discovery in the hospitality industry. I will do whatever I can to help her. Because that’s what we all should do.

Incidentally, it was the longest time I ever hung out with Prova.

Five hours!!!

 

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Tales of Rock – David Bowie Thinks Witches Are Stealing His Semen

In fall 1975, David Bowie went into the studio in Los Angeles and made Station To Station, one of the best albums of his career. It saw him transition from playing conventional if fantastic rock and roll to recording a series of genre-bending masterpieces that set a template for ’80s pop and whose influence is still being felt decades later. Pretty impressive, considering he was doing so much coke at the time he later couldn’t remember recording the album at all.

According to David Buckley, the author of the book “Strange Fascination: David Bowie: The Definitive Story,” Bowie’s diet at the time consisted of cocaine, peppers and milk, and he lived in “a state of psychic terror.” Interviews published in Playboy and Rolling Stone depicted Bowie surrounding himself with burning black candles and Egyptian artifacts and believing that bodies were floating past his window, witches were stealing his semen and that the Rolling Stones were sending him secret messages. He lived in fear of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, owing to his supposed practice of witchcraft. In Station To Station‘s title track, Bowie yelped, “It’s not the side effects of the cocaine; I’m thinking that it must be love,” which was definitely the wrong diagnosis.

If Bowie wanted to clean up after this album, he made the wrong move by decamping to Berlin with Iggy Pop. Still, the trio of albums he recorded during this period—Low, Heroes and Lodger—honed his legacy. This trilogy along with Station To Station was cherry-picked to create a perfect soundtrack for Christiane F. We Children from Bahnhof Zoo, a German film released in 1981 that captured the harrowing lives of teenage junkies in West Berlin.

Check it out. I saw it at a midnight showing in LA in 1982. It’s great!

 

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Tales of Rock – Badfinger

Badfinger should’ve been a huge success story, but instead became a cautionary tale for the myriad ways the music industry exploits and throws away so many talented but naive artists.

Possibly the most heartbreaking story in rock and roll happens to have happened to one of the best bands in its history.

Badfinger should’ve been a huge success story, but instead became a cautionary tale for the myriad ways the music industry exploits and throws away so many talented but naive artists. After supporting major outfits including The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd and the Who, the band — then named the Iveys — was picked up by manager Bill Collins in 1966. It was a move that would help them reach early stardom and contribute heavily to their downfall. Ray Davies of the Kinks recorded three early demos, which Collins managed to get to Apple Records; Badfinger signed with Apple in 1968, making them the first band that wasn’t the Beatles on the label. After a lineup and name change to Badfinger, Paul McCartney penned their first hit, the timeless power pop classic “Come and Get It.” (Written for the soundtrack of The Magic Christian, a loopy, cameo-filled British comedy starring Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers that’s worth watching for the sheer absurdity of it all.) The song became an international hit. The band’s two primary songwriters, Pete Ham and Tom Evans, also wrote “Without You,” a standard since covered by more than 180 artists, including Shirley Bassey, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra and, perhaps most famously, Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey.

George Harrison had them play on his 1970 album All Things Must Pass and featured them as part of his backing band at The Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. The point is, Badfinger should’ve been rolling in dough, their names solidified among rock’s most important acts. But taking manager Collins’s advice, the band trusted their money to an American businessman named Stan Polley who absconded with their funds, leaving the band in contractual binds that made it virtually impossible to continue on their own.

Lead singer Ham — by all accounts, an incredibly sensitive, sweet man who believed to the very end in Polley’s honesty despite all indications otherwise — hanged himself shortly thereafter. (Polley, in a move that even most scumbags would be disgusted by, tried to cash in on Ham’s life insurance.) Inconsolable and unable to restart his own career in music, Tom Evans — who reportedly said numerous times over the ensuing years that he wanted to be “where [Pete] is” — also hanged himself eight years later. Badfinger finally got a sliver of the rediscovery they deserve when their 1972 song “Baby Blue” was used in the series finale of Breaking Bad. The nod helped the song’s Spotify streams jump an astounding 9,000 percent in the hours after the show ended, and to sell 5,000 copies of the single on iTunes in a single night.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 8am EST.

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