Johnny R. – 2009 to Present – Needle in the Groove – Part 1

Another fun day with my friend who loves vice.

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I love this day. I finally get to write about Johnny R. with a little vice because I planned it that way. Art imitates life.

I sleep in on Saturday, because it’s the only day I  am technically off from my two jobs. The real day off. That’s plenty of time for me, because I like to work.

Johnny texts me that he will roll into Suburban Station around 1pm. I have to get out of this bed. I am drifting in and out of the arms of Morpheus and listening to NPR. I have to go out and be with my dear friend.

His train is coming in and I am walking towards the station. He says he is busting for a piss and is going to Tir Na Nog. That’s the closest bar to the train station, and a beloved spot for him because they have a satellite dish and play all of the liverpool soccer games that he loves all the time. I don’t get it because I’m not a sports guy but he loves it. I know when Johnny says he’s heading to Tir to take a piss that means he’s going to be drinking 5 minutes after that, so I need to get there sooner than later.

I arrive and he looks great and we’re happy to see each other. Tir Na Nog is obviously an Irish bar on 16th street near Arch. It’s a good spot but normally is a sausage bar. Lot’s of dudes and sports fans. Never my cup of tea. I prefer hotel bars with pretty nubile waitresses eager to please me.

Johnny is sucking on a bud bottle and seems surly. He says he has no coke or adderall so he’s probably going to behave but be tired later on. I don’t mind. As long as I can spend time with my friend and we get our kicks, I know we’ll all be better for it and his wallet won’t hurt tomorrow. (Nor will his soul)

He tells me he hates the raven haired Irish female bartender that’s currently on shift. I love his rage about everything. I ask him why, and he tells me that he sat here with an empty bottle and she ignored him and went to talk to her friends at the end of the bar. Normally I would hate this too but I have a little surprise that I didn’t see coming for my friend Johnny.

Johhny: “I fuckin’ hate her. Shitty service.”

Me: “Hello Sheila! I haven’t seen you in a while. How you been?”

Sheila: ” Hey, great man, I’ll come by the new salon soon!”

Johnny looks at me incredulously.

Sheila: “Hey, this round is on me.”

Johnny: “How?”

Me: ” She tans at the salon so she doesn’t look so pale when she goes back to Ireland every year.”

Johnny: “Wow. Thank you.”

Me: (I point to me and then him) “Honey… vinegar. It’s all good dude.”

That was a huge savings and an elegant meeting spot for me and Johnny. It had history, soccer and free drinks in it!

We head down to Locust Rendezvous for some food, because all I’ve had in the way of food today was beer. We get there and the place is chill. We sit in our usual seats at the end of the bar and I order a Yards Pale and some chicken fingers. Johnny goes for the plain grilled and I of course go for the buffalo.

Locust Rendezvous is a clean little dive down at 15th and Locust. Local crowd. The food is good and cheap. The staff is consistent and sweet. They have a fantastic $5 burger lunch special there. Check it out if you’re ever in Philly. Worth it! We’re chatting and sipping our beers. Johnny with his Bud bottle as always. The food comes out and it looks great. Johnny complains that his chicken is tough but he bitches about everything. It’s actually endearing and one of the reasons I love him. It’s like hanging out with comedian Bill Burr.

Our day is unfolding beautifully, until he gets a piece of chicken lodged not in his throat but in his esophagus. He has a thing. It’s not serious but you know how deadly chicken and it’s bones can be to humans and dogs.

Johnny pauses. I turn. “Are you okay, dude?”

“I’m fine. Just a piece of chicken that needs to keep going to my stomach.”

“Is there anything I can do?” I’m getting worried about my friend.

“”No. I just need to go to the bathroom.”

I’m concerned, but it’s his thing and he knows how to deal with it. Chicken is dense and you gotta take little bites.

I continue to drink my beer and rip into my delicious “moist” buffalo chicken fingers. After a few minutes he comes back and he’s fine. I’m relieved and he’s still pissed about his dry chicken. But that’s just Johnny. It didn’t kill you, so eat it brother.

I finish my meal and I know what’s going to happen. Since all I’ve consumed has been beers and buffalo chicken today and that has been breakfast and lunch, I need to go. It’s called middle age. You put something in your body and the system turns on and things start moving. I tell him I’ll be right back and I walk to the back of the bar to the men’s room. It’s funny because the bathrooms are labeled. “Nuts” and “No Nuts” and they have pictures of a boy and a girl squirrel. It’s pretty obvious what bathroom has been appointed to which sex, but I just wonder why they went with that theme here. It has nothing to do with the bar.

I really have to go. The machine is running and I need to deal with this. Forgive me readers for going here. Some of you may hate anything bathroom related, but I promise if you stay with this scene, you’ll enjoy it.

I go into the “Nuts” bathroom because I have a pair, and I tie my button down dress shirt in a knot at the bottom so it’s away from all of the action. Every time I do this I always think of Rod Stewart tying the bottom of his shirt and looking gay. Nothing against the gay community or Rod, (No pun intended) I love gay people but this move always makes me feel a little gay.

I drop my drawers and have a seat. It’s a tiny bathroom. Just one commode, a sink and that’s it. Just me, my phone and my thoughts. I’m cool. I’m having a good day with my pal who’s at the front of the bar probably sipping his beer and playing with his phone.

I finish and life is good. I feel relieved and I’m having a great day with my dear friend. Hopefully there’s more fun and deviltry to come. So I’m ready to get up and I look around. First casually, then frantically. There’s no toilet paper in the men’s room. Not a stitch. Not a square. Nothing! There is a little soggy wad next to the toilet on the floor in the corner. I’m not touching that!

What the fuck am I going to do? I can’t wipe!

I’m panicking now. I’m trapped in the Nuts room and I can’t leave.

Wait! I brought my phone in with me. I’ll call Johnny and tell him my situation and he’ll tell the bartender and someone will run back a roll to save me!

I pride myself in knowing where all of the liquor stores and clean bathrooms are in this fine city. I’ve done this my entire life. Sometimes I get tummy troubles and a man need to know where to get a clean restroom. This comes in really handy with the fairer sex. But I’m being held hostage by my dirty ass right now and I have failed myself as a good bathroom vigil.

I grab my phone and call him. You can’t text your friend at the bar when you are trapped in the bathroom. You have to call! He’ll pick up. I’m with him right now. I dial his number.

Ringing…

“Pick up…”

“Pick up…”

“Pick up Johnny….”

“Pick up you fucking asshole!”

(voicemail) “You have reached (phone number) Johnny is not available…”

“Are you fucking kidding me???”

How is everybody chained to their phones and you are literally sitting at the bar with me in the same bar and you are on your phone and I am calling you and you are not picking up you fucking asshole???

He never picks up.

I’m stranded in this bathroom. I want to kill him. I really want to kill him. I’m going to kill my friend next time I see him.

Necessity is the mother of invention. I have been in worst situations so I need to get creative and do what is necessary. I get up off the seat with my pants around my ankles and turn my butt toward the sink. I hop towards it and get to the sink. I grab the porcelain and hoist my ass up onto the sink. Apparently the sinks in Locust Rendezvous are strong enough to support the full weight of a grown man. I reach back behind me and turn the spigot on. The water is running now. Is it the hot water or the cold? Should I turn them both on?

I feel like a little kid now. Sitting on a another toilet with my little legs dangling in the air a foot of the ground because I’m small. I reach back to check the temperature of the water with my hand. The water feels ok, so I realize the inevitable. I lean forward and get my ass as close the water stream as close as possible to my sweet star fruit. I reach back and literally scrub my asshole with my bare hand under the fresh stream of water from the faucet.

How do they even open their bar on a Saturday and not even check the bathroom situation? At the beginning of my shift at the salon I run patrol on the whole place. Well I suppose this is how you earn the title, “Dive Bar.”

So I scrub my asshole clean until it squeaks. There isn’t even a way to dry my butt because they have an air dryer for your hands in there. And I am not going to be able to do the gymnastic to do a head stand on the sink and get my balloon knot up under that blower to dry off my turd cutter. (Yea, I’m using creative names to make it even funnier than this sad situation already is.)

I hop down when I’m done and am actually a little proud of myself for my resourcefulness and creativity in a bad situation. Urban survival techniques!

I thoroughly wash my hand with their soap. I use it copiously! Then I get to take advantage of their modern hand air dryer in the bathroom with NO TOILET PAPER! Because if they had any paper hand towels I would have totally ripped them up and wiped my sorry ass with them. If it clogged up the toilet I would have been fine with that because that’s your punishment for not doing your fucking job and checking the bar before your shift! Now you have a REAL mess to clean up, lazy! (I kidding…I wouldn’t really do that)

So I walk out of the bathroom and back to the bar with my super clean, still wet ass and I see Johnny just sitting there sipping his beer.

“You wouldn’t believe what just fucking happened to me in the bathroom!”

“The redhead blew you?”

“Really, dude? No! there was no toilet paper in there and I had to use the sink as a fucking bidet on my butthole!”

“(Nonchalantly) Oh…I saw that you called.”

“Why the fuck didn’t you pick up?”

“I just thought you accidentally butt dialed me.”

“Yea! My butt was crying out for help and you left it literally blowing in the wind!”

“Alright. I got lunch. Wanna go to McGlinchey’s?”

“Dude! I needed your hel… You got lunch?”

“Yea.”

“Okay. I’ll buy the first round at McGlinch…”

“I hate when you abbreviate everything.”

“It’s my thing. It’s what I do.”

“We know. Let’s go.”

We step out onto 15th street headed to the foulest bar in the city.

“Why couldn’t you have choked on that piece of chicken.”

“What?

“Love you….”

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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Ann Marie- 2015 to Present – Rose Among Thorns

“Oh come on Jimmy, we all know why you always sit at the very end of the bar. Just so you can check out Ann Marie!”

I did some work in the morning, and then was to meet up with Church for lunch. We met at one of my favorite Monday lunch spots in Rittenhouse. Can’t beat a $5 cheesesteak and fries or tots to kick off your week at Cavanaugh’s.  I get there and of course my girl Ann Marie says hello and immediately delivers to my table a water and diet coke. She always uses my name and provides outstanding hospitality. I always get the same thing when I go there on Mondays and she knows exactly what I want. It’s a little slow in this sports bar, so Ann Marie hops up in the chair across from me and we start chatting.

I ask her how her trip to California was with her Mother. Ann Marie is getting married in October so she and her mom and sister went out there to pick up a special Vietnamese wedding dress.

While traditional clothes of Vietnam have always been very diverse depending on the era and occasion, after the Nguyen Dynasty women began to wear elaborate Ao dai for their weddings. These dresses were modeled after the Áo mệnh phụ (royal Áo dài) of Nguyễn Dynasty court ladies. The style of the Nguyễn Dynasty has remained popular and is still used in current-day Vietnamese wedding attire. The difference between the Áo mệnh phụ and the typical Áo dài is the elaborateness of its design. The former is usually embroidered with imperial symbols such as the phoenix and includes an extravagant outer cloak. This gown is preferably in red or pink, and the bride usually wears a khan dong headdress. The groom wears a simpler male equivalent of the dress, often in the color blue.

Apparently she’s having a Vietnamese wedding and then a Catholic wedding after that. Then there is the reception of course. So basically Ann Marie’s wedding day is going to last from 11am till the last person stumbles out of the reception.

An engagement ceremony usually occurs half a year or so before the wedding. In the past, most marraiges were arranged by the parents or extended family, and while children were sometimes consulted, it was nearly always the parents’ final decision. It was not unusual for the bride and groom to meet for the first time at the day of their engagement. However, in the last few decades, Vietnamese women and men marry based on love rather than arranged marriages.

Preparation for the traditional Vietnamese wedding begins with choosing a date and time for the marriage ceremony. This is decided by a Buddhist monk, Spiritual leader, or fortune teller due to the spiritual nature of the occasion. This tradition may change if the family is Catholic. (Which our westernized Ann Marie is)

The wedding consists of an extensive set of ceremonies: asking permission to receive the bride, receiving the bride at her house, and bringing the bride to the groom’s house. Both Vietnamese and oversea-Vietnamese who desire to have a hybrid traditional Vietnamese and Western-style wedding will often incorporate the last two ceremonies with the Western-style wedding.

And then obviously at the end of the ceremonies, there is one reception for the two families and guests. Sounds like it’s going to be a big day for our girl.

“I told my bridesmaids to just keep me hydrated and energized to make it through a very long day!”

I’ve known Ann Marie for a few years now. We never hang out, I just know her from the sports bar. There are a million sports bars out there, but your staff is really what makes the difference. That goes for any business. There are bars I go to and I love the guy that works every Monday night, but I wouldn’t set foot in that place on a Wednesday if he’s not working.

Ann Marie’s great. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s really cute and fit. There’s a group of construction workers that come in and drink some afternoons and they only come in when Ann Marie is working. They love her like we do. There were days I would be sitting at my table in the back and I would be working on my laptop. I’d pop out for a smoke and one of the guys would be out there and we’d be chatting. Next thing you know he’s sending me a drink back to my table. Just good hard-working fellas.

I remember another time I was sitting at the bar and I was eating my sandwich. That same group of guys were there and they were drinking, laughing and busting on each other. The one guy says something like, “Oh come on Jimmy, we all know why you always sit at the very end of the bar. Just so you can check out Ann Marie!” Of course the guy laughs but doesn’t disagree with them.

I think to myself… “Fuck! That’s why I always used to sit at the end of the bar in the Spring and Summer, so I can check out Ann Marie’s legs. If you’ve been following this blog, you know I’m a leg man. Ann Marie may be petite but she has well turned legs.

Church arrives and we order our food. We go with the special. He goes with fries and I choose tots. This way, everybody wins. The place gets busier and Ann Marie is running around taking orders and serving at the bar.

Church and I are chatting after lunch and Ann Marie cruises by. “Can we get the check? I thought you were keeping me here.”

“I’m going to keep you here forever, dear.” She says with a wry smile.

That’s what I’m talking about. You come for the $5 cheesesteaks, you stay for that kind of hospitality and charm.

Update: Ann Marie has since left her post at Cavanaugh’s to pursue a career in Marketing. Oh well, hopefully her replacement can live up to the high bar set by Ann Marie. Oh, and if you’re reading this dear, You’re going to be a beautiful bride to a lucky gentleman.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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Sun Stories – Sugar (Grand) Daddy

“I can’t find my card. I must have left it on the table when I paid the cable bill.”

I’m working at the tanning salon, and it’s a quiet Tuesday night. This older gentleman, well into his sixties, strolls in with a twenty something on his arm. She looks to be of some eastern European decent. Dark hair and eyes, and dark brown hair. Petite, and cute. I don’t think this chick is his daughter.

She fills out the necessary paperwork. (Her handwriting is atrocious. It looks like that of an eight year old) The older gentleman stands beside her as she decides what kind of tanning package she wants. She settles on a one month all access. (That’s a mid-sized bed deal that runs sixty-five dollars) I ask her cash or card, and she starts digging in her purse.

She’s rifling around in it for a while. “I can’t find my card. I must have left it on the table when I paid the cable bill.”

The old man just steps up and places his credit card down on the marble counter. He nods and I run his card. I thank him, but I notice she doesn’t. She tells me she wants to do a stand up tan.

You can lie in the beds or you can stand up is certain ones. It looks like a big time machine. Big silver cylinder shaped booth. Inside you’re surrounded by fifty-two ultraviolet flourescent tubes that are all two hundred and thirty watts. Each session only lasts a maximum time of nine minutes. You can do less if you want. (I do less!) We put a five-minute timer for you to get ready and do whatever it is you want to do before your session. (Undress, apply lotion, etc.) Once the five minutes is up, the booth lights.

So while she’s in there I figure I can talk to this guy and find out what the deal is with them. He tells me he met her on the internet. So I’m assuming a dating site. I gotta hand it to pops, good job using the internet. He said his wife died twenty-five years ago. I don’t know what he’s been doing for the last quarter century, but he hasn’t met anyone that stuck around. He met Sandy and they started dating. She lives down here in Chinatown. He lives about thirty-five minutes east of here over in New Jersey.

He says she works as a wedding planner. (Not buying it. Not that he’s lying. I think she’s lying to him. Her with that horrible handwriting.) So if she’s downtown, and he’s over in another state, she can pretty much live her life when he’s not around.

He tells me when he started dating her, after a few dates he asked her if she was really sure if she wanted to be with him. “Are you really, really sure?” he said. “Because I don’t want you to simply change your mind about me in a few months from now.”

This poor old guy is in love with her. He’s just a lonely old man. He says when he walks down the street, they sometimes get looks, but he doesn’t care. He feels proud to have her with him.

I totally get it. Having a young beautiful woman on your arm makes older men feel cooler than getting out of an exotic sports car. I’m not getting any younger because I love it too.

But I feel bad for this guy. She’s a good actress. There’s no way she’s into this guy. I mean, he sounds like a really kind gentleman, but I don’t see it. I think it was when she came to a tanning salon to buy a luxury item, and conveniently ‘left her card on the table while paying the cable bill.’

I think this gal is either and escort or a professional sugarbaby. There are certainly plenty of girls here in Philly that are sugarbabies.

She probably uses the ‘wedding planner’ lie to let him know that she’s always busy meeting with clients. I’m thinking those ‘clients’ are other johns. Think about it, she could have several versions of that guy that she’s dating to get meals, money, gifts, and who knows what else?

I just hope this guy is getting to have sex with her, because if he has the money and she makes him happy and provides the GFE,  (girlfriend experience) then more power to him. Sex you pay for is always cheaper than free sex. But in this case she’s costing him quite a bit. I mean, he probably fed her before they came here, there’s the drinks he paid for too. He had to pay for parking down here, and now he just bought her a tanning package. That’s easily a three hundred-dollar night for this guy.

But like I said, if it makes him happy, and she doesn’t break the poor old guy’s heart, then who am I to judge? I never saw the guy again after that first night, but I’ll tell you what I did see.

She continued to come in and tan on a pretty regular basis. She’d roll in on her own. But one time she came in on a Saturday, and I just happened to be at the salon chatting with Trish. (See Trish – 2012 to Present – The She Wolf)

Sandy comes in with two kids! A little boy nine, and a little girl, six. She goes into the stand up unit to tan. She always goes into the stand up unit in room two. That’s the only bed she ever goes to. So leaves the kids sitting on the sofa in the waiting area. Her daughter is adorable. Like a mini version of her mom. She’s also a little chatterbox. She’s chatting and charming some of the other clients that are sitting in the waiting room. The son on the other hand seems like a bit of a weirdo. I don’t know. Something’s off.

At one point he just looks right at me and says: “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” What do say to a fucking nine-year old kid when he asks you that? Of course, I told him that I did, because you don’t want to go down that path with someone else’s kid. You never want to be the guy that was the one that made a little boy question his christian faith. It just felt weird when he said it about of the blue. I should have said, ‘Speaking of Jesus, your mommy reminds me a lot of Mary Magdelene.’

It was just a little creepy. I hope he doesn’t grow up and say it again to somebody before he pulls the trigger…

I wonder if the grandpa that she’s dating knows she has two little kids? Come to think of it, he said he was nine years old… on Sandy’s profile it says she’s twenty-six. That would mean she had him when she was eighteen and knocked up at seventeen! Teen mom!

 

Another time she came in and after she was finished tanning, I go into the room. I have a spray gun full of sanitizer. I spray and wipe down the unit, clear any detritus left behind by the client, and place a fresh towel in the room. This time I find a Victoria’s Secret sales tag that says 32b on it. It’s from a bra.

On another occasion when cleaning up the room after she was in it I find another Victoria Secret tag. This one is for a pair of panties, size small. What is she doing?

Then I remember that there is Victoria’s Secret boutique across the street in Two Liberty. She’s either stealing underwear and then bringing it over here and ripping the tags off, or she has to change her undies between, “clients.”

The final find was one of the last times she was here. I cleaned the booth and then saw what appeared to be what I thought was some sort of black and white headband in the little basket in the room. I picked up and discovered it was a soiled pair of panties.

Eww. Straight to the trash!

Once the monthly package that Gramps had bought her expired, we never saw her again.

 

 

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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Duncan – 1997 to Present – Concentrated Dosage – Part 3 – Saturday Night

Me: “What would happen if you didn’t inject your medicine every week, Duncan?”

Duncan: ” I would turn into a chair.

We walk all the way from the river back to the hotel. I loved the film. Go see it. We stop at the bar and have a couple of drinks. Duncan does his rum driven white russians, and I go with Manhattans and old fashions. Duncan says all the drinks are on his room, so all of this has fixed the missing bottle of Grey Goose he promised me. (See: Phicklephilly – The case of the Missing Bottle of Vodka)

I’ll get my hands on that sometime soon. I have a really nice bottle of rare South African rum for him that I can offer up for trade if I have to!

We decide we’re both hungry and can’t sustain ourselves on popcorn and sugar. I decide to take him over to Tavern on Broad because I have drink tickets. We get there and the vibe just isn’t working. We leave and I have an idea. We go to the place my friend Prova works, and is owned by the Uncle of my partner at the tanning salon, Achilles. (Prova – 2016 to Present – Glow of the Sun and Achilles – 2016 to Present – The Bronze God)

We head over there and it’s choice. We get a table and Prova is there and so is the owner, Achilles, uncle. It’s all good. We have a glorious dinner and the service is great. He’s drinking his usual and I’m having a Manhattan. It’s a great place and the vibe is good.

Lovely Prova comes over to the table to chat near the end and I introduce her to Duncan. He agrees she’s smoking hot and sweet and we’re having a great day. We split the check and it’s time to go see the German heavy metal band UDO at the Trocadero in Chinatown.

Time is tight and we need to grab an UBER to get there on time for the show. Duncan planned this gig eight months ago so I need to be on point for my pal. It’s his weekend and his night. I can’t fuck this up. I want him to be happy and not miss any of it. We step onto Sansom street and the car is on its way. The driver can’t get it together and ends up a block away from us. I think more taxi drivers in this city are packing it in on being taxi drivers and going for UBER and Lyft because there is more money in it and it’s the future. But they’re struggling with it.

Fuck it. We’re in the car, and I’m paying for it with my $600 in UBER credits from my previous job. Thank you ME, deadly sales guy and my previous employer.

We get to the venue and the opening act is on. They’re a tight metal band and we like them, but we immediately identify that the singer sucks and needs to go. That happens with metal heads. We want quality and can identify it instantly. Priest. Maiden. come on. You can have the hair and the moves but if you can’t sing amazing for your band… you’re out. But we’re happy to be there because UDO is coming for Duncan. He’s going to do a bunch of songs from his former band Accept and that’s why Duncan flew up here this weekend and planned this trip eight months ago.

They finish and some time passes, and UDO comes out. Now to refresh, this is a Duncan band. I have turned this clown onto some of the greatest rock and metal on the Earth and I am here now about to see a band where I only know one of their songs from the eighties.

Nothing else. Let’s see how this unfolds.

UDO hits the stage and he is a very rotund German gentleman. Duncan says he’s fatter than he remembers. He’s a sixty something, fat, bald dude that’s ready to rock. He has a Finnish and a Russian guitar player at his side. Both of these guys are deadly musicians that are hot and smile while they shred through the songs of Accept. These guys are amazing. I rock out to the unfamiliar songs like they’ve been written by AC/DC. This band is fantastic.

UDO sings like Bon Scott, the long dead lead singer from AC/DC and the band is tighter than a crab’s ass. (that’s water tight!) I love his band. The guitarists are amazing musicians and elegant showman. I can see the show is choreographed, but I love it. They are sooo good. Their personalities are coming through in the show. I love it.

Just like Aerosmith.

Just like me. What I wanted to do in music, and what I do in my everyday life. Push the energy outward into the people around you, and it will all come back to you so bright and wonderful so you can give it again.

That’s how I felt that night with Duncan.

The show was long. He played for two and a half hours! It was magnificent but I could see that Duncan was getting tired. This was his night but even he was folding. I loved this band, but at our age after the first finale, and one encore, we’re done.

They finally leave the stage and so do we. Duncan always does this thing when we go to shows. He always gets the set list and as much info on the show as possible. I’m not into presents or holidays or birthdays, but I like to be surprised by art. Men don’t like to be surprised, but we like to be delighted. But I feel like Duncan takes the mystery out of the musical acts we see, because he knows what they are going to play. I prefer to just show up at your concert, art gallery or movie and just light me up. But Duncan always knows what they are going to go play before hand. He’s always been this way. I never understood this. Part of seeing live music performed by the guys you love was about the surprise. What will these guy play next? Oh I love that. But Duncan always knows the playlist.

Duncan: What did you think of the show?

Me: That was the greatest rock show you’ve ever taken me to where I only know one song by the band. I LOVED it!

We leave the venue and are walking back to the Ritz Carlton. It’s like we’re in our thirties again. Maybe even our twenties. Duncan has rheumatoid arthritis and has to deal with that every day. He’s always been fit and been working out, and this is a disease that wants him. My mother got RA in her late forties and it was with her until her death.

Duncan has this and it kills me. My Mom had this and I watched her suffer. Here is my friend with the same health issue.

Me: “What would happen if you didn’t inject your medicine every week, Duncan?”

Duncan: ” I would turn into a chair.

We leave Chinatown and walk towards Broad street. Duncan and I cross Broad street. A famous street in Philly. A block from the foot of Billy Penn. We’ve had a glorious couple of days, and I didn’t have to have this fucker at my house for two days.

This has been wonderful and peaceful with my old friend. Drinks, food, games, movies and metal. No strippers or vice. We’re good. We don’t need that. Our connection and our history is our glue. I love Duncan.  I’m happy that we’ve reconnected and sustained our friendship.

We arrive back at the Ritz, and take a seat at the bar. Duncan closes with his signature Rum Russian, I lean into the Manhattan.

In an hour we hug and promise to hang again before memorial day. I step out onto Broad street, (Avenue of the Arts) and make my way home.

I’ve had amazing weekend with an old friend. Duncan and I are connected and there’s no breaking that bond.

 

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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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Phicklephilly – 2017 – Holiday Party at Gran Caffe L’Aquila

What did that guy steal from his boss at the party?

I worked at the salon on Sunday. Trish came to visit me with a Latte and donuts. We chit chatted for a while. When a friend comes to visit, it always makes the time pass more quickly.

My lady friend, Mary told me that at Devon Seafood they do 1/2 off bottles of wine on Sundays. I was down for that. After work, I was sitting there waiting for her. I sipped a martini, just to kick off the afternoon. The bar was crowded and a little noisy. But I had an empty seat on either side of me. I heard a voice to my left ask if the seat was taken, and without looking, I said it was. I turn and it’s Mary! (For more on Mary, See: Mary – 2016 to Present – Chapter 1 – Unexpected Table for Two)

We settle on a bottle of red zinfandel. It’s her favorite. So even if the bottle if $30 you’re only paying $15 each to share a whole bottle. We’re chatting, and Church shows up. He wasn’t very talkative, but seemed better after he ordered some calamari. He’s not much of a talker when it comes to more than one person.

We hung out there for a bit, and I could see Mary was getting a good buzz on. She asked me what was in the bag I had sitting on the bar. I told her after our little get together that I had to go to a holiday party for the new company I’m working for now. In the bag was a gift wrapped present of two different scarves. It was for a Pollyanna that they were having at tonight’s event.

When we left, Church went his way, and Mary decided to walk me over to the restaurant. We get there, and I think Mary wanted to go in with me, but I told her it was employees only. She didn’t mind. I told her I’d call her an UBER, but she said she wanted to walk to clear her head.

I went into the bar and mostly everyone was there. I grabbed a drink from the open bar. I was chatting with the owner’s son, Jon and his Asian girlfriend. She’s really beautiful, and apparently an heiress to a clothing company in China. She told me her dad wanted her to come back to China and run the company, but she’s not sure. If I were Jon, I would marry her and move to China and run that company!

After a bit, we all head upstairs to a private area they have set up for us. Everybody puts their mystery gifts on a table off to the side. The restaurant proceeds to serve us a delicious five course meal. It was terrific. I am sitting at the good table. The founder, is to my right at the head of the table, her husband is across from me, and I’m next to the heiress and Jon.

After dinner they begin the Pollyanna. Everybody picks a random number out of a hat. When your number is called, you go to the gift table and pick a gift. Or…you can take an existing gift away from someone else that already unwrapped theirs. It’s pretty intense.

So it’s my boss’s turn and she picks up the present I brought in. She doesn’t know it’s from me. No one does. She opens it, and is delighted with the two nice scarves. They could be worn by anyone, but she puts them both on. She’s happy.

Then it’s another guy’s turn and he gets up and takes the scarves away from my boss! I’m mortified and delighted by this crazy turn of events. Just for office politics, I’d never usurp a gift from my boss, no matter what the circumstances of the game.

She’s being a good sport about the whole thing, but I can see she’s probably disappointed that she lost two nice scarves.

Another number is called out. It’s my turn. I reach for a gift that looks like it’s a bottle of wine, which it is, so I’m happy. Free booze always goes down easy.

Another number is called out. It’s my boss’ husband. He gets up, and approaches the dwindling gift table. He smiles, and then turns to scarf stealer guy, and takes the scarfs right from around his neck! Yay! The gift I brought in that was good, went to my boss. It was taken from her, and her husband steps in at the end and gets it back for her. He puts on the black one and she has the brown and red one on now. It was a great moment. I’m new, so now I have a story to tell them both Monday morning on our face time conference call.

The party was great and a lot of laughs. It’s a fun crew. Hopefully, we’ll all work together for a long time.

 

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