Sun Stories – 2016 to Present – The Move

I just start grabbing anything that’s not tied down and tossing it into boxes or bags.

Five guys tearing apart a business and breaking down huge, complex tanning beds and moving them to another location was so brutal, Achilles says he’ll never move again. I can’t agree more. We’re going to a better location and the new salon will be beautiful… eventually. I couldn’t think of a good image to show what a mess the salon is now so I’m sticking with “hot chick in a sunbed.”

I closed on a Friday, and that night the crew came in with Achilles and started dismantling the sunbeds. Great thing was, I didn’t have to sweep or mop the place, because we would never be open for business again at this address.

I went back in Saturday morning around 10am and the crew was in full swing. Achilles, his brother Zues, and two other big strong dudes. They’re all taking things apart and carrying them down the back steps to the alley outside. The beds are huge and have tons of parts.

I just start grabbing anything that’s not tied down and tossing it into boxes or bags. I carry them by hand and walk the three blocks down to walnut street. I carry them up the 30 stairs, unload, and walk back to the old salon. I do this over and over until 4pm.

My whole body hurts when I get home. It’s that moment when you finally sit down for a bit and then have to get up to get more ice for your drink or something. Once on your feet the pain and stiffness kicks in and I groan like an old man.

And the worst part? I have to go do it all again tomorrow. This move has been brutal!

 

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Sun Stories – 2016 to Present -Two Steps From the Move

The place is a mess. I just keep the clients rolling and sweep up the dust and debris.

This Sun Story is not about some cute blonde in a sun bed. It’s about the salon itself. So why the cute naked blonde? Why not? Look at her! She’s a doll!

So if you’ve been reading this blog you’ll know that we are moving the tanning salon down to Walnut Street. Lease was up. Building sold. New owners. Rent was going up. It’s been a great ten years, but it’s time to move to a better address. Where the new location will be is probably the most upscale shopping district in the city, so that can’t hurt.

It’s the last day at the old salon and they are literally ripping the place apart. The premium beds went first, then the rest will go over the weekend. We don’t have to be out until the end of the month, but the weather is going to be really nice this weekend. So we want to get over to the new spot now.

I’ve been working from open to close every day leading up to the move. That’s from 10am to 8pm on your feet. I really don’t mind it, because I like to work and our clients are great. Achilles and his team are dismantling the machines, and I’m running the store. It’s Achilles, his brother and two other big guys. So they’re all of the mind and muscle. Just four dudes and a pickup truck. I’m holding down the fort until we close.

We’re down to just three beds in operation. The premium lay down in Room 10, the all access lay down in 3 and the stand up in 2. The place is a mess. I just keep the clients rolling and sweep up the dust and debris.

The best part is for the clients. I have to tan everybody in whatever is available under the circumstances. Which means if you paid for a medium package, and the premium bed is available, you get to tan in the premium bed. It’s not the client’s fault that we took most of the beds from their package to the new site.

Here’s the reason that moving is going to payoff for us at the new location. For the last few days we’ve been letting everyone tan in whatever is available. So the clients that have never experienced the premium beds are getting a taste of something they can’t afford. The best bed in the house. 600 watt face tanners, 200 watt tubes, Vitamin D P2 lamps, 3 levels of tanning, (Basic, Mediterranean & Caribbean) and most of all aqua misting! They’re all coming out of this bed raving about it and asking about pricing, and how it’s “THE experience.” So now that they’ve gotten a taste of the very best, when they re-up their packages I’ll tell them it’s only $10 more for a 5 pack and just $15 for the monthly plan. So now that they’ve had the best, how can they go back?

So we’ll probably get some clients that will be spending for money for the better experience. We’re also offering a $20 discount for students. So that’ll help us as we come into our busy season.  So I’ll help them move all of the small stuff that I can gather tomorrow, and we’ll take it one day as a time.

 

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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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Clarice – 2016 – Chapter 6 – Happy Birthday, Baby – Part Two

Another tale of one man’s journey navigating his way through the dating scene in Philadelphia.

So it feels like we’re driving forever. I feel like I’m a million miles from the city. I really love living in center city, despite its problems. Driving through the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania this time of year, sort of bums me out. I’m just going by all of these big houses all isolated out here. It reminds me of the suburbs in South Jersey. Another depressing time in my life. I don’t like being out here. But again, I’ll be good because it’s her special day.

We finally get to the park. It’s a nice place and it’s not too cold out. It’s a pretty huge park. You can walk through it, but it actually has a road through it. So you’re not walking on any dirt paths. There’s a few people around. Mostly couples, families and people jogging or walking their dogs. Walks in the park in the winter aren’t really my cup of tea. Walks in the park anytime aren’t really my cup of tea. I’d rather be in a bar in the city, having a drink and a cig.

As we walk further into the park, I can feel a mix of anxiety and depression wash over me.

I think it was because all of the trees are bare for the winter, and I’m in a strange place.

There is actually something comforting about being in a city. I have some of my happiest memories back in Philly. I also am starting to get a very real vibe that I have to find a restroom soon. Brunch is starting to work on me. Not good.

We were out there for a while and I did see a port-o-potty out there. It almost beckoned to me off in the distance. But I just didn’t want to go in there. I figured I could make it back to the main area and find a restroom there.

During our walk through the park there was some good conversation and laughs. I also kissed her a few times. That was nice. She tells me how she’s had Bells palsy before. She feels like it has affected how her face looks and moves. I didn’t even notice anything.

Find out more here: http://www.webmd.com/brain/tc/bells-palsy-topic-overview#1

But now that she’s mentioned it, I see it. Normally it clears up after a few weeks and your face goes back to normal, but it appears in her case some of the paralysis has remained. I don’t mind, because it’s hardly noticeable and she’s still attractive.

We finally get back to the beginning of the park, and I tell her I need to use the restroom. I head over to the little building, praying to God that the door isn’t locked yet. Because the sun is nearly down and it’s getting dark.

Thankfully, the door is open and I make it to the stall. It’s a huge relief when my cheeks hit the bowl, and I’m sort of glad that it’s an outdoor bathroom. I’ll leave it at that.

I return to my lady, and we walk around the main property. There is a mansion there. It really looks cool. We stroll around the property and there are some more kisses exchanged.

I have been with her for five hours now, and I’d be fine with just going home. I’m also kind of dreading waiting for the train at 69th street. She wants to take me to her house for a drink. I’m fine with that, we’ll see what happens.

Her house is quaint. She lives on the first floor, and rents out the second floor to a retired gentleman.

I make myself a vodka and ginger ale, and she’s making some sort of cosmo or something. We retire to her living room. We’re just hanging out on her couch chatting and sipping our drinks. She then gives me a tour of the house. Now, this house is pretty cozy, and I’m assuming built maybe back in the forties or fifties. But she hits the lights in her bathroom, and I am blown away. It’s been completely remodeled and redesigned. Against the back right corner is a huge glass shower, with a stone floor. The commode is across from it. In the center of the room is a huge jacuzzi type tub. Along the south wall is a huge double vanity, and get this; the floor is heated. It’s one of the greatest personal bathrooms I’ve ever seen. Had I known this before, I may have been able to hold it until I got here so I could have dropped a deuce like a king!

She said it was a present from her father. She had purchased the jacuzzi tub and then didn’t have enough money to finish her dream lavatory. She said it sat in a huge box in her bedroom for a long time, and her father kicked in a bunch of money to finish the bathroom. It’s a killer bathroom, but it’s an over improvement to the house. I can’t for the life of me understand why one older woman would want a bathroom this nice. But maybe someone out there does. I guess if it makes her happy and she spends a lot of time in the bathroom, it works. But it’s just a weird purchase. It’s obvious she doesn’t have much money.  She’s sixty-two and her daddy is still buying stuff for her house. He’s got to be well into his nineties, so maybe he doesn’t give a shit about the money at that age. I guess if I had a tub like that, I’d be in there with a bunch of booze, and get a flat screen in that bathroom.

We had another drink and hung out in her living room again. I wasn’t getting a vibe that sex was happening, and frankly I didn’t care. It shouldn’t be something I was wondering about, or deciding if I think it should happen. It should be a spontaneous celebration of how we feel about each other. And I’m just not feeling it.

She volunteers to drive me home. I am overjoyed that I don’t have to wait at 69th street station tonight. It doesn’t take as long as I thought it would, and soon I am on my street in front of my building. We kiss goodnight and I thank her for the ride, and for choosing me to spend her 62nd birthday with her.

She drives off. Tomorrow she’ll discover the black and pink scarf I hid in her dashboard. It’s wrapped in a little black bag. Just a little something extra for her birthday.

But, I don’t really want to go out with her again.

 

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Mary – 2014 to Present – Chapter 3 – New Years Day Brunch 2016 – Part Two

Another tale of one man’s journey navigating his way through the dating scene in Philadelphia.

Normally, a dating post like this one would appear on a Monday. But since I’m publishing three days a week now, to preserve continuity with the events of New Years weekend, this is technically the fourth installment of the events that occurred over my New Years weekend. Clarice, Carly, and Mary is a 4 part series that should be together.

Here’s where we left off yesterday!

We enjoy our free drinks and I pay the bill, but I told Mary that since she’s had so many medical woes lately, I wanted to do something for her. she’s been paying dutch normally when we go out, and I appreciate that. It’s New Years day of 2017, and I enjoy her company. I want to do something for her.

We step out into the late afternoon December sun onto Broad street. The parade is still going full force. We have to wait between sets to cross the street and head west on South street. I’m pretty sure Mary’s not done yet, and wants another drink. I like that in a woman. Chick’s got stamina. I respect that.

We walk up to 20th and Lombard and we decide to check out the new place called Lou Bird’s. It replaced whatever forgettable restaurant was across from Pub and Kitchen. I’ve never really been a fan of Pub and Kitchen. Not thrilled with the menu and the drinks are expensive. Lou Bird’s is owned by the folks behind Happy Rooster, so that’s a step in the right direction. Inside it is a very cozy bar. Back wall is brick. Only a few people in there, and a family at a back table in the other room. It’s a very comfortable woody bar. The barmaid is attractive and sweet. She is young and seems to lack some knowledge but she’ll do just fine.

Mary orders a stinger. I haven’t heard of that drink in a long time. A real old classic. It’s a pretty simple recipe. Just brandy and white creme de menthe. It can be served on the rocks or up. Mary goes for on the rocks. I have to tell the bartender how to make it. She doesn’t have any brandy so I suggest some the Remy Martin sitting on the shelf behind her. Cognac is brandy. The only way they can call brandy cognac is if it’s distilled in the cognac region of France. (You all knew that, right?)

I go with a simple Manhattan, up. Always a solid choice. It’s a really nice neighborhood bar. I like it here. Small place, all dark wood. Side wall is bare brick. I like that there are windows behind the bar so you can see out. We’re there for a bit, and mary insists on paying. This is always a good thing. I can see she’s got a buzz on. I like her a little tipsy. It’s New Years!

After our drink I tell her I’ll walk her home. We leave, and start walking north up 20th Street. We get to Chestnut street and Mary thinks we should stop in El Rey, for a final. I can’t say no at this point. I’m having such a wonderful fun-filled weekend. Little does Mary know, but I’ll be back at El Rey for happy Hour this week with Clarice.

El Rey is quiet. Mary orders a wine and I get a can of Tecate. I guess this could be considered a nightcap. Once we’re done there, we start to head for her building. At 20th and Market there used to be a vacant lot with an old food cart out front. Now there is a beautiful high-rise with a CVS downstairs. Across the street is a brand new Wawa. How the city has grown and changed over the last ten years since I came here.

Mary is laughing and tells me the food cart isn’t gone, they just moved him to another spot. That’s when I kissed her lips.

She’s drunk. My kiss is welcome.

She locks her arm in mine and I walk her to her building. She’s raving about what a wonderful, perfect day she has had with me. I have to agree with her. I kiss her again. Then she kisses me. She does this a few times. Her lips are soft and a bit more relaxed now. A bit more passion. She likes me. I’m going to see her more in 2017.

We say goodnight, and I wait until she is safely inside before I turn and make the sweet walk back to Rittenhouse on the first day of the new year.

 

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Annabelle – 2013 to 2014 – Chapter 3 -First Date

What if I’m not falling for her at all? What if I’m simply in love with the idea of love, and not this woman?

It was a hot day in July of 2013. I remember that summer being especially humid. I didn’t want to get all sweaty before my date with Annabelle. So I took a taxi up to the Barnes Museum. But sadly, many of those cabs are still hot as hell in the summertime. I went inside, told them I was on the guest list and that I was waiting for my plus one.  The girl at the counter tells me it’s cooler downstairs. I head down to cool off and dry out. I was heavier back then, (36 waist!) so maybe that’s why I was sweating more. I get some water and have a seat.

I get a text from Annabelle that she has arrived. I tell her to just let them know who she is and they’ll let her in. She comes downstairs to get me. She is wearing her hair up, and has a black top and matching black slacks that just cover her knees. Is that called Capri pants? She is also wearing heels so she towers over me. I don’t care. I’m Phicklephilly. I cast a great shadow across this city. She goes to use the restroom, and I chill out looking at little models of what the building looked like when they were designing it. The are all in different stages under glass.  I’m looking at one of the tiny models very closely when she returns. She comes up behind me and I just feel her presence. I turn around and she is over me looking at what I’m looking at. I tell her it felt like I was being stalked by a raptor from Jurassic Park. She laughs and does this little impression of a raptor. I find this funny and ask her if she liked the film  Jurassic Park. (One of my favorite movies)

“I love Jurassic Park.”

“Okay….okay” I reply.

We go upstairs and into the main ballroom. They are having a little first Friday celebration. A live band plays some sweet jazz. For whatever reason we’re both starving. I get us high top with a pair of chairs, and tell her I’ll go fetch us some snacks and wine.

I head over to the bar and all they have is overpriced everything and some cheese and chips. It’s the Barnes for God’s sake. Can’t they afford any decent chow for the guests? I gather up two bags of chips some cheese and a couple of glasses of wine. I’m not even gone for five minutes, and some old codger has already swooped in and started talking to my date. This guy is easily twenty years older than me. I approach, drop the food on the table and hand Annabelle her wine.

“Really dude? I was gone all of five minutes. Get your own girl.” I joke.

We chat with the old guy. He seems charming and harmless. After a bit, Annabelle and I go over to tour the collection. Apparently, that wasn’t part of the passes I was given. I simply drop a name and they let us in. I had never seen the collection before so it was a real treat for me to see what a billion dollar art collection looked like.

The collection includes 181 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 69 by Paul Cézanne, 59 by Henri Matisse, 46 by Pablo Picasso, 21 by Chaim Soutine, 18 by Henri Rousseau, 16 by Amedeo Modigliani, 11 by Edgar Degas, seven by Vincent van Gogh, and six by Georges Seurat. Other European and American masters in the collection include Giorgio de Chirico, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Paul Gauguin, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Édouard Manet, Jean Hugo, Claude Monet, Maurice Utrillo, William Glackens, Charles Demuth, Jules Pascin and Maurice Prendergast. It also holds a variety of African artworks; ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art; and American and European furniture, decorative arts and metalwork. The museum also holds several significant works by cubist sculptor Jacques Lipchitz.

It was pretty amazing how one guy was able to collect this many fantastic, priceless pieces of art. We walk from room to room, looking at everything. At one point she says, “Out of everything in this room, which is your favorite?”  Then I would choose the one I liked the best. I would do the same to her. We did this enough times, until finally she asked me what was my favorite in the last room.

I simply pointed to her.

She smiled.

We then went downstairs to the rum tasting. We were all in a room and they gave us three different rums to try. The guy that was running the tasting really knew a lot about each rum and what made them different. But the weird part was, they were comparing the taste and look of the rum to different paintings in the collection. They had the images on a video screen on the wall. I’ve never seen this done, and I don’t even think it’s a real thing. But free rum is free rum. I remember the person talking about the mood of the paintings and the taste of the rum, and I was into it. there was a moment when my eyes drifted away from the host and onto Annabelle. I was looking at the painting and then my gaze passed over to Annabelle. I looked at her profile and neck. Was I falling for this girl? I took girls to events all of the time. What was it about this one? There’s nothing special about her really. It’s been two years since Michelle. I’m really taken with her. Has it just been too long since I’ve fallen in love that I just want that feeling again?

What if I’m not falling for her at all? What if I’m simply in love with the idea of love, and not this woman?

After the weird art/rum tasting we headed back upstairs. We probably shouldn’t have had all that wine and rum with so little food. I can handle it but it could be a bit painful for Annabelle tomorrow.

We leave the museum. It’s located in an area where it would be difficult to catch a taxi. I decide we should walk up to Spring Garden. We reach the corner and flag one down. We share the perfunctory hug. Dating’s funny. So much of it is tied to timing and ritual. I put her in the cab and ask her to text me that she has gotten home safely.

The cab rolls east into the night and as I walk back down into center city. As the city rises before me, I feel a little spring in my step.

 

 

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Marigold – 1997 to Present – Good German Stock

I’ve known her since she was 21 and now she’s a mom!

I met Marigold when she was only 21 years old. That was back in 97 when she worked for me as a teller in my bank branch at 10th and Snyder Aves. in South Philly. They would sometimes send her to another branch to help out, so I didn’t see her all of the time. She always seemed smarter and sharper than her peers. I really liked her. (Tall blonde. Good legs.)

We would sometimes go to lunch and it was always nice to spend time with her outside of the bank. Marigold eventually left retail banking for a better job. I remember she always dated high-end wealthy or affluent men. She wasn’t a gold digger or anything like that, just knew how to date a better class of men than most girls her age.

We kept in touch and would occasionally meet up for lunch or drinks to catch up. At one point I was living in New Jersey and she was living in the Fairmount area for Philly. I was married back then. Years later I was working in Philadelphia, and she had moved to New York. So that kept us apart except for the random visit. I later moved to New York for work and she was then living in Newark, NJ with her boyfriend of several years. That was just a few train stops beyond where I was living at the time. So we got to hang out every once in a while.

I remember attending her bachelorette party. I was the only guy invited. Just me surrounded by a bunch of women. It was awesome! She and her fiance married at city hall but then had a big reception down in the Bowery of NYC. I took my then girlfriend Jackie, who was a second generation girl from Haiti. She was a lawyer on Wall Street. She wanted to get married and have children so badly, I think she scared me off. Lorelei was enough kid for one lifetime for me.

I eventually moved back to Philly and took a job at a local digital publication. I didn’t see Marigold as much as I would have liked to, but we always managed to get together at least once or twice a year. Then she moved out to Lexington, Kentucky. Her husband is a professor at the University of Kentucky, so out they went. he’s a great guy. Everybody loves Don.  Men and women alike. He’s so cool that he’s never minded me hanging out with his wife. Cassandra works as a financial broker, so technically she can work anywhere. I have known Marigold twenty years now, and I’m sure hasn’t been a fan of living out in the midwest. She’s a city cat like me and probably misses living in a metropolis. I would bet that at some point they’ll come back.

She has a little son who is now six years old and two daughters that are about two and a half. They are fraternal twins. They all have white blonde hair and look like the perfect little Aryan family. They’re all really cute. I think the son could have used a bit more discipline to keep his behavior in check, but he’s not my child. I know for a while about a year ago, cassandra was losing her shit having three little kids to take care of everyday. That was real challenge for her. I think it aged her.

I was down at our shore house a few years ago to see my father and she visited with her son. She wanted to meet my father that I always spoke of fondly to her. She wanted to see his train collection and also wanted her son to see it. It’s pretty spectacular. I’m glad she finally got to meet my dad. Her life with her father had always been a challenge. I believe he was bi polar and struggled with alcohol. I remember even in her twenties she was taking care of him. Writing out his checks to pay his bills, etc. that must have been a lot for a young girl to bear. I may have fucked up some things in my life, but I was always capable of taking care of my daughter. Girls need strong dads. I may not be the strongest father, but I was consistent with Lorelei. I also wasn’t a crazy asshole like her mother, so that’s part of the reason Lor has decided to live with me.

I am writing this because I am about to go see her and her daughter tonight. She’s visiting Philly for a couple of days to see everybody, and this must be my night.  I will finish this piece upon my return.

I got to their hotel at 5pm. They are staying at the Courtyard at Marriott. It’s a nice hotel right near City Hall. Originally that building was built in 1926 as a government annex to City Hall for over 60 years. In 1990 it was acquired and renovated by Marriott. The marble floors and three chandeliers in the main lobby are all original. It is the largest Courtyard Marriott in the world.

Just thought I’d give you a little Philly history there.

I go up to her room, and her little daughter is on the carpet playing with her maryjane shoes. She’s so cute and social. I know it’s been a stressful drive up from DC today for Marigold. They were down there visiting with Don’s family for the holidays. Marigold is happy that she only has the one child to look after for the next couple of days. She is relieved that her husband and his family will get to spend time with her son and other daughter. Three little kids are a handful, but getting a break and only having to look after one is much needed on her part.

I hand Marigold a skinny joint. She’s delighted. She hardly ever smokes weed so she says she only needs a tiny bit to get lit. She excuses herself and heads to the bathroom to toke up. I’m just chilling on the couch sipping a glass of wine. I tell her to run the fan in the bathroom to draw out the smoke. I hear the fan go on followed by coughing.

Moments later, Marigold reappears, smiling. “Thanks, I needed that. Do my eyes look stoned?”

I assure her she looks fine. We get her little one in the stroller and head downstairs in the elevator. I’ve decided to take them to Zavino at 13th and Sansom. It’s a small place but we’re in a nice little booth in the back. I had called ahead to hold a table and they were very accommodating. They take the stroller and hang it in the back.

We settle into our seats and order some wine. I know they all love pizza and that’s why I brought them here. It’s really good brick oven pie here. They have this location and a bigger one out in University City. Their happy hour is pretty solid. We got two pies (they’re small) eight bucks a piece and the wine was only five bucks a glass. For a nice place like this in midtown village, that’s a good deal.

We had a nice dinner without incident. Her daughter was well-behaved. The food was great and the service on point. I was happy to see Marigold and share this moment of repose with her. When we finished, she insisted on paying the bill. I left the tip. I walked her back to the hotel and we called it a night. It was a great two hours to catch up with my old friend. She said she couldn’t wait to snuggle up with her little one, smoke a little more grass and fall into the arms of Morpheus.

I love Marigold like a sister.

 

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