My Young Life: Star Wars – 1977

I remember seeing the trailer for it on TV and my friends and I getting really excited about how cool it looked. I was 14 years old and my dad said he would take me to see it. He was working at a bank down the shore back then and my sisters and I lived in Philly with Mom.

When I look back on it now it’s like they got separated but wouldn’t get divorced. According to my mother she didn’t want her kids ending up a statistic. Mom could chill in Philly and dad would live at the shore house in North Wildwood, NJ. Then he could carry on his affairs and go fishing with his buddies.

The good thing about that arrangement was life was more peaceful at home. I didn’t have to deal with the tension of having dad around all the time and it was greatest hits on the weekends.

Ninth grade in middle school was up to that point, the worst year of my life. I’ve faced far worse years in my adult life but up to that year 1976 – 1977 was by far the worst. I’ll just give you the quick and dirty:

Puberty, Glasses, pimples all over my face, chest and back, terrible student, picked on by kids at school in school, on the way home from school, and after school. It was like I was walking around wearing a target. I loved girls but they all hated me, but when you think of all the shit that happened and was done to me, it’s wrong, but I brought nothing to the table. All I had was a few friends, my music, my art and my comic books. Life sucked.

I remember seeing the previews for the a new movie coming out called Star Wars one day on TV and went buck wild. I had to see that movie. All of the boys in the neighborhood were talking about it. It looked super cool.

I talked to my dad about it and he said he would take me. A little father and son time. Even though I was afraid of him back then I probably still loved him.  I believe it was opening weekend for the film.

We got on the train and went downtown. There was a line waiting out front to get in! He bought us hot dogs and cans of soda from a street cart and we ate them while waiting in line. This was a brilliant move, because then we wouldn’t get hung up in a concession line inside waiting for overpriced popcorn and drinks. We’d get right in and find a pair of seats. Could have been good planning on the part of my pop. He was always a great planner. That’s the good side of having high anxiety and OCD.

The movie starts and the rest is history. We loved it! It was probably the greatest movie I had ever seen in my life. Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was brilliant and is to this day still my favorite movie of all time. The special effects in 2001 set the standard for how science fiction films looked forever. But Star Wars was a fun, funny, exciting fable and adventure story. It blew my young mind.

It was an unforgettable afternoon with my pop and a landmark moment in film history. I went on to see it eight more times that summer!

But that’s another story!

 

 

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Johnny R. – 2009 to Present – Needle in the Groove – Part 2

I remember in the past we used to call the Gold club “The Death Star.” Johnny and I would be out at happy hour and we’d be walking around trying to figure out where to go next. After a few rounds we could start to feel the pull of the club. It was like a tractor beam that would just start pulling our little drunken rebel alliance feet over towards 15th and Chancellor. If you know anything about Star Wars, that’s what the Death Star did to the Millennium Falcon.

After our hilarious experience at Locust Rendevous, we headed over to our favorite dive bar McGlinchey’s on 15th street. McGlinchey’s has cheap drinks and you can smoke in there. I’ve written about it before. (See: Johnny R. – 2009 to Present – Dive Bar Blues) It’s a den of scum and villainy. But we love the place. The surly staff, the crashing bottles as they are thrown into the trash, and the filthy bathrooms all add to it’s bygone era charm.

We get there and we look for a pair of seats. (Just writing about this place makes me want to have a cig right now) Normally when it’s cold there are a few empty seats near the door. We’re in luck and we’re not too close to the door. We walk up to the bar chairs, and they’re empty but there’s all these bags and clothes and one crutch lying on the bar rail. (Nothing surprises me at McGlinchey’s)

We ask the guys to our left if it’s their stuff and they say no. We ask the bartender if anybody is sitting here, and he says no. Then he turns to some old coger that’s sitting around the corner of the bar and tells him to move his stuff. Why the old guy dropped all his stuff over here and then went and sat over there, I’ll never know.

So he comes and hauls it over to his area and we sit down. We look over to our right and there’s an attractive brunette sitting by herself at the bar. That’s rare for a dump like this. She’s obviously doing what most people do nowadays. They have their faces in their phones. Of course some other old guy starts chatting her up. He seems harmless enough.

“You can see that girl is visibly uncomfortable.” says Johnny.

“Agreed.”

I order my usual. Their shitty house white wine with a side of ice, and Johnny gets a bud bottle. He grabs a few singles off the bar and heads to the jukebox. He always has a good sense of what to play, and soon the music is overtaken by eighties and nineties rock. He usually spends a solid fifteen minutes over there picking songs, so I start chatting with the bartender. He’s a tired looking middle-aged guy wearing a Star Wars t-shirt. I compliment him on his wardrobe choice. We start to discuss about how we both saw the original film in the theater back in 1977.

I started to write about that experience in detail but decided because it was so epic, that I’ll give it its own space in the future. It’s a great story, but this post is about today with Johnny, so it’ll have to wait. The bartender complains about all the stuff wrong with him now that he’s old, like arthritis and what not. I thankfully have none of those problems and I’m only one year younger that him! It’s probably because I have suffered so much emotional, mental and romantic pain in my life, maybe that was enough.

Johnny and I are chatting about our usual stuff. What’s going on with life and work, how he’s annoyed by his girlfriend, music, what shows we’re watching, etc. But one thing that he tells me has struck a chord. He tells me he has started writing his blog again! I really wanted him to do it, and he says he’s written three things so far, and wants to call it Tales from the Gutter. Which I think is a brilliant title. He’s just going to write about his life experiences and things that piss him off. I love it, and I can’t wait to read and be his first follower!

He asks about my blog and I tell him what’s been going on with it. He’s amazed that I’ve completed all of my Monday through Wednesday posts for the next five months.

“What? So, if you dropped dead today, your blog would continue to publish for the next five months?

“Exactly. It’s a written and scheduled.”

“You’re a prolific motherfucker.”

“That I am Johnny. Now let’s get over to the World Famous Gold Club and do what we came out here to do today.”

Eighties hair metal band, Ratt is playing on the jukebox as we walk out the door. We walk north on 15th Street until we get to Chancellor Street and bang a right. On the corner is an Applebee’s that no one I know ever goes to. I once picked up an order of chicken fingers for one of the strippers at the Gold Club. That’s what the Gold Club is; a gentleman’s club. Funny how they call strip joints gentleman’s clubs now. I have rarely seen any gentlemen in strip clubs. It’s usually a bunch of frat boys, douchebags, sad married guys, or creepy sad old men. There is a thrill to going on occasion. I never go alone. I actually don’t really care for such places. I know Johnny digs vice and I wanted the third time I included him in my blog to be interesting. But he knows that.

This side of Chancellor doesn’t even look like a street. It’s just the side of Applebee’s and then you walk a few more steps and at the end of what resembles a filthy alley lined with dumpsters you come upon the entrance to the little strip club. If you kept walking past it you would literally enter the parking garage of the Park Hyatt.

I remember in the past we used to call the club “The Death Star.” Johnny and I would be out at happy hour and we’d be walking around trying to figure out where to go next. After a few rounds we could start to feel the pull of the club. It was like a tractor beam that would just start pulling our little drunken rebel alliance feet over towards 15th and Chancellor. If you know anything about Star Wars, that’s what the Death Star did to the Millennium Falcon.

We enter and the place is pretty dead. It’s dark, but I like that. It’s like you step out of the sunlight of the outside and suddenly enter this other world of booze and flesh. Colored lights dance about the room, and the joint smells of stale beer, cheap perfume, and shame. On the stage is some fat white chick writhing around on the floor. Johnny likes a curvy gal, so he sort of digs her. We take a seat at the back-end of the bar against the wall. If I have to sit at the bar, this is my favorite spot. I can lean against the wall and watch the dancers from the side of the stage.

I order a cheap glass of chardonnay with a side of ice, and Johnny get his usual. The bartender is a cute little black girl that looks like she’s in a really shitty mood. I mean like: “Just kidnapped and put on Le Amistad, shitty mood.”

“Day shift is looking a little rough there Johnny.”

The curvy gal approaches for tips for her dance. I always give a dollar. I don’t need to stuff it between their breasts or in their G-string. I just put it in their hand. I’m sure they get groped and felt up enough. She’s actually very sweet and friendly. Most of the girls usually are. But that’s part of their sales pitch. Their sole duty is to separate the patrons from their cash. But I believe this girl is genuinely sweet. She’s chatting with Johnny and  I glance down at her pale thigh and see that she is, or was a cutter. There is a set of  four short scars just bellow her bikini line.

Check it out here: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/cutting-self-harm-signs-treatment#1

I’d write about cutting, but I don’t know much about it. Apparently it’s more common in girls than boys and they cut themselves to ease the pain of some sort of mental anguish. It’s really sad. Most of the women I’ve met that are or were cutters, suffered from anxiety and depression. So it stands to reason, if you’re an overweight girl who has had the misfortune to end up taking your clothes of in a club for money in front of dirty old men, there’s certainly something that drove you into this vocation.

I’m sure it wasn’t anything pleasant.

And you thought me and Johnny going to a strip joint was going to be fun and erotic. Well, I write what I see and what I feel.

There’s now an attractive Latina girl onstage. She’s kind of hot. After her song she comes over to us. That’s another reason to be at this end of the bar. We get them as soon as they come off stage. I actually find it sexy if an attractive girl is a little sweaty. Latina comes over to me and says hello. We do the fake name exchange. They obviously don’t use their real names.

Incidentally, in this blog all the names have been changed, and the photos are just stock pics I’ve gotten from the internet. Obviously to protect the identities of the people I write about. I tried to find attractive ones that resemble what they look like in real life. But why I’m saying all of this is, the reason I call my friend Johnny R. is because when we would be in the Gold Club he would always introduce himself as Johnny Rivers. Like the singer, who is probably best known for the song, Secret Agent Man. (Which I love! I always used it as my intro music when I used to do stand up.) There were other times he’d be hopped up on coke and Adderall and he would just yell out: “I’m Johnny Rivers!” really loudly in the bar. I always enjoyed that.

So we’re chatting with lovely Latina. Curvy Girl has gone off to make the rounds for more singles and possibly give a lap dance to some hapless gent. Latina has a good body and a nice face. I give her a dollar for her dance and so does Johnny. Both of her nipples are pierced. I suppose some people like this but I really don’t like piercings or tattoos. Does it look kind of hot on a stripper? I guess so, but it’s not my cup of tea. What are nipples for? Right. Where do nipples go? Right. I don’t want to feel any metal in my mouth at anytime. I wore fucking braces for three years. The only metal I want in my body is Heavy Metal! And that goes in my ears and into my heart! I don’t want to put my lips to some girls pert nipple and feel the click of cold steel against my central incisors.

So I guess we’re all clear that I’m not a fan of body modification in any form. Evolution made you beautiful. Leave it alone!

Johnny looks at her breasts. “Did that hurt?”

“No.” is Latina’s reply.

How can driving a sharp piece of metal through a part of your body that’s loaded with nerve endings and blood vessels not hurt?

Okay. No more metal nipple talk.

She goes on her way to make her rounds. Johnny decides he wants to get a lap dance from Curvy Girl. He feels that he can talk her into having sex with him or at least getting her to give him oral sex.

If you know anything about strip clubs, for the most part there is a huge “hands off” policy in place. If you touch any of the girls, you’ll usually be ejected. But not at the World Famous Gold Club! Johnny has had sex with like five different strippers from there over the years. It hasn’t happened in the last few years, but he hasn’t been in the city as much as he used to be.

That, and the place was raided a year or so ago for that very thing. Prostitution. But that’s the charm of this dirt hole. I never have to worry about that sort of thing because I don’t get lap dances. What’s the point of paying $20 per song while some hot nubile girl wiggles around on you and gets you all worked up for no payoff. Well, that’s true for most fellas but apparently not if your name is Mr. Johnny Rivers! He’s never paid for sex ant a strip club.

So he goes off with Curvy Girl to the back room. I’ll be interested to hear how that all goes in a little while. I look over at the stage and there is a really fit black girl sliding around the pole like a lovely ebony serpent. Her body, a lean vessel of sinew and muscle. Already she’s my favorite girl in the place. I know what I just said about lap dances, but I’m a leg man, and her legs are killer. She’s smoking hot.

She comes off the stage and right towards me. I love her! “Hi.” she says in a low sexy voice. Her body is absolutely slammin’. She looks me in eye, takes my hand, and places it on her left breast. Her nipple is like a rubber bullet pressing against my palm. (Just writing this is making me want to stop in there and see if she’s working tonight. Vice!) I gently squeeze her breast and she smiles. Then I release her.

“You’re beautiful! I’m a leg man, and man…if your legs aren’t spectacular.”

“Thank you.”

Johnny returns. “Oh, and what bit of ebony delish is this?” She says hello and gives us her stage name.

“You can touch my legs if you want to.”

I am smitten by this dark temptress. I couldn’t resist. I reach down and just run my hand up the back of her leg. Exquisite. I hand her a few more bucks.

“Do you want to get a private dance with me?”

“You’re the prettiest girl in here. Do you mind if I catch up with my friend, and think about it for a bit?”

“Sure thing. But if you get a dance with me I’ll make your dick hard.”

She slinks away with feline grace. I want that ass, but I don’t do lap dances. I think it’s just a waste of money and gets you nothing in the end. I guess I could make this example: I like to drink. You buy a bottle of something for about $12 and drink it. Over the next few hours of doing whatever you’re doing, you get a buzz, relax, feel good, socialize, or just chill out and let go. So for $12 you can have a great night.

If I go to a casino, I spend $20 because I’m not a gambler and never have been. I burn through that $20 in under 15 minutes, and I’m done. I don’t get off. I don’t feel good, and I’m out $20. Now I know it doesn’t work that way for real gamblers. They get high on the action, not the winning or the losing. Just the action. You see, I need some sort of payoff. I need the reward and with booze I get it, and with gambling I don’t.”

I love women and sex. I have been addicted to the feeling of love, and not really been in love. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s how it worked. You meet a woman, there is the spark of romance, and if there is chemistry the payoff is hot love and sex. Huge payoff. I think love is the best drug in the world. If we could have sex all the time and feel loved, we’d probably have a lot less problems. I think the greatest feeling one can have, it to love and be loved.

But hey, I digress. That’s why I can’t invest the $20 in the lap dance. I get the action and zero payoff. Now I’m sure Johnny has a whole different view on this issue. Because he likes to gamble, and as we know in the past he’s paid the $20 for the lapper, and gotten a blow job out of it or straight up banged the stripper bareback. Yea…bareback. Like I said. Johnny’s a gambler.

Let’s see if his little foray with curvy girl paid off.

“So, what happened back there with her?”

“I don’t know what’s going on. The last few times I’ve been here, the girls won’t do anything sexual.”

“Think you’re losing your touch?”

“No, it’s probably because the place has been busted so many times. Do you think I’m starting to look like a cop?”

“Well you are Irish Catholic and approaching middle age, sir.”

“Really? I’m not even forty yet, asshole.”

“Wanna blow this place?”

“That’s a lot of dudes. I think they’re here for the ladies, not to get sucked off by you.”

“Let’s go. I’ll call you an UBER.”

 

 

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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Duncan – Concentrated Dosage – Part 2 – Saturday

“We keep getting older, but they stay the same age.”

I wake up on Saturday morning, and after a day of drinking and activities on Friday, I’m a little banged up. Duncan and I were supposed to go to breakfast at 10am but that wasn’t going to happen.

I rolled over to the Ritz Carlton around 11am Saturday. Duncan was chilling in the lobby. We decided to head down to the movie theater. It was a little cold, but not too bad. Duncan was freezing because he lives in a warm climate and can’t take the cold winters of the Northeast anymore. (Fuckin’ wimp!)

Philly is an incredibly walkable city and we decide to walk all the way down to Columbus Blvd. to the movie theater. It’s right on the Delaware river. (Hence the name, Riverview Stadium) It probably took us about forty minutes to walk down there. The nice thing about walking around Philly is, it gives you time to look at all of the sights and just talk.

I love my time with Duncan this weekend. We’ve really reconnected as friends and as men. He’s been in my life for twenty years and I want to keep him there.

We get to the theater and there’s a line for tickets, but people are in line for everything playing and there. I decide to leave Duncan in line and try the kiosk, because there’s always that person that’s in front of you that is making it their life’s work just to by a couple of tickets to see a movie. That goes for everywhere I go in life. I’m always behind that person that is digging through a coin purse at Rite Aid, or making international transactions at an ATM, or just basically doesn’t ever have their shit together when it comes to doing anything in regard to a retail transaction. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this.

So I hit the ticket kiosk and swipe my card for two tickets to see Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, and I get them! I pull him out of line and we go in. Duncan’s happy that I came through in the clutch because we’re cutting showtime pretty close. The tickets were twenty something by I don’t care. I know what’s going to happen next, and I’m all set.

The theater is huge, and we take the escalator upstairs. We hit the snack bar and Duncan is on the case. He orders a bucket of popcorn. Mistake. No one can eat that much fucking popcorn. Then he gets our drinks. The girl upsells him to the large size because she says we can get free refills. Mistake. No one can drink that much fucking soda. Maybe a couple of dudes that just walked of the face of the Sun, but no human can hold that much liquid in their bodies in one sitting, but I admire her upsell. He gets a box of M&M peanuts for himself and I take the popcorn over to that machine that literally drenches the bucket in butter. It’s probably not even butter, but who cares, it’s delicious. I tell him I want a tray of soft pretzel bites with the spicy cheese sauce and we’re all set. The snacks came to somewhere around thirty-five dollars, and I’ve won. Duncan just bought me a deliciously gross breakfast and the tickets I bought were less that what he paid to feed our sorry hung over asses.

We get into the theater and there aren’t that many people in there. I like that. We take a pair of seats in the back and get situated. We watch a bunch of previews which I love. I’m starving and start ripping into my pretzel bites and the popcorn. The sodas are so enormous I feel like the sheer weight of them will pull the chairs over. My fingers are soaked with butter and I can’t even get a grip on the barrel sized cup in the built-in holder, so like a little kid, I have to go to the straw, rather than pick up the tankard of diet coke. As silly as this is, there is something nostalgic about being a kid at the movies and having all of these treats. It’s breakfast for a couple of men, who are about to watch a new Star Wars movie. We’ve loved them since their inception in 1977.  I’m happy, and I don’t even care that like always, I have dribbled the spicy cheese whiz down the front of me.

We watch the film and it’s glorious. Better than I expected. I’m a film guy, so I won’t reveal a thing, and you’ve all probably seen it. It’s a story that takes place before the original Star Wars movie. It’s a little slow in the beginning but way better than the ones made by George Lucas before this. So if I had to rate the Star Wars pictures I would rate them as follows:

Star Wars: Episode 4 – A New Hope

Star Wars: Episode 5 – The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens

Star Wars: Episode 6 – Return of the Jedi

Star Wars: Rogue One

I have left off the first 3 prequels Lucas made, because they basically suck. Here’s a classic example of an artist losing sight of his art and original vision. It’s fine. I don’t care. This happens over and over in music, film and art in general. I know the fans are screaming and go wild over the failure of the creators making sub par art and letting them down. It happens. You have to embrace and enjoy how their art made you feel in that moment when you first fell in love with what they did. If you expect the artist to keep making the same art and making you feel that initial rush again at the level you first felt it, it’s just not going to happen.

Look at the band Aerosmith. I LOVED Aerosmith in the seventies when I was growing up. My sister, Janice brought their first record home, because she was hanging out with a band that did their song Dream On. She wasn’t that into Aerosmith, but liked the band that was covering their work. I on the other hand as a fledgling rock guitarist fell in LOVE with Aersmith. It was 1975 and the song “Walk this Way” was playing on the radio from their third record, “Toys in the Attic”.  Their first album is great because like any band, they had their whole lives to write it. But then the studio pushes them for another record and it’s just not as good. The band is great, but the material just isn’t there. They work hard and tour and have a special talent so then they make ‘Toys in the Attic” and it’s a great record. They’re all poor and touring their asses off and doing shitloads of drugs. The lifestyle is changing them and killing them.

People love the song Walk this Way (A nearly perfect FM rock song) and a lot of people buy the “Toys in the Attic”

Then in 1976, Aerosmith puts out a record entitled “Rocks.” A black cover with just the name of the band and the word ‘Rocks’ and picture of five diamonds. It is absolutely one of the most perfect hard rock albums of the seventies. Every song is magnificent.

I love Aerosimth. I wore out the Rocks album. I listened to it everyday and learned how to play every song on that album on guitar. I wanted to be Joe Perry and Steven Tyler rolled into one skinny blonde kid with a guitar.

But you can’t expect them to keep making Toys in the Attic and Rocks every year so you can get your rocks off. Things happen in an artist’s life to change, alter, grow, or fail in some way. So you have Lucas trying his best to make something but the fire and hunger just isn’t there anymore. The heavy metal band Metallica are all wildly rich men. Do you think they can make the powerful angry music they once made? No way. Neither can Aerosmith or George Lucas. Just wrap yourself up in the memory that their art gave you in the beautiful moment of your life and leave it at that. Other people will rise up and take the helm and get you off in a different way.

I’m guilty of this too. Maybe my problem is I keep trying to go back and get that love rush I did when I was younger and I keep dating younger women. It always ends badly, because they want to go forward and get married and have kids and I’ve already done that. Maybe I just need to wrap myself up in my beautiful memories and be done with it.

But Disney has Star Wars now. I don’t listen to Aerosmith anymore except for the old stuff. Marvel Comics is making great films and Star Wars is definitely on the upswing creatively, because someone else is doing it. So for now, I’m going to stick with what Matthew Macoughy said in the film Dazed and Confused, “We keep getting older, but they stay the same age.”

I know it’s wrong, but I want to date a girl that makes me feel like the original Star Wars movie again.

Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion…

 

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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