Duncan – Superbowl Sunday – Part 3

We’re a little burned out. We’re not in our thirties anymore. Duncan comes to the gym and works out. He’s eating better. We’re not doing Philly Tacos anymore. (Philly Cheesesteaks rolled in giant slices of pizza from Lorenzos on South Street.) There is no Heavy Metal here. I think Duncan wishes his father was here to share this moment with him. My father is long gone and so is my mother and I’ve already forgiven and buried them.

Duncan speaks of a time when he and his father would watch the Eagles together when he was a kid. They are some of my friend’s finest memories with his father. His dad was a hard man but this was something they shared.

I get it. My father and I shared a love of film.

If the Eagles win the Superbowl Duncan would love nothing more than to go to the parade with his dad. But his father has already declined, but that sucks because that motherfucker should be at that parade with his boy. Just another failure as a parent when you could actually do he right thing by your son.

But I digress…

I’m at the salon until 4. We have no plan. It’s horrible,  Duncan is worried. He expected the King of Philly to have it locked down. No dice. Ticketed events and no idea where to go for a sporting event.

Duncan shows up at the salon an hour before closing and I ply him with soft pretzels and Tastycakes. (I knew it would work because he’s a Philly guy and I’ll figure it out)

It bought me some time before I closed the salon and I have no idea where we’re going to watch the Super Bowl.

I tell him I brought a flask and he can fill it with whatever he wants.

Duncan heads down the street and buys a fifth of Plantation Rum. It’s $50 a bottle so I’m down with drinking that.

He actually figures out a way to get the booze into the flask without spilling it by using the card that the Tastycakes rest on as a cylinder to pour the booze. Pure genius. A McGyver moment on this Super Bowl Sunday.

We’re set. Like we’ve been set in the past but tonight it’s raining and we have no idea where we should go. For the first time we’re at the hands of fate. I feel bad I haven’t set up a cool spot for my friend who has traveled 1500 miles and paid for a hotel and paid for food and drinks and now I can’t deliver on the only thing my friend wants.

But then we come up with an idea…

We head to the Ritz Carlton. Maybe the bar won’t be packed. Hopefully the people who are there won’t be a bunch of animals like everywhere else in this fair city.

Normally on a day like this you should already have your spot to watch the game staked out. But I closed the salon at 4 and now we’re trudging through the rain towards Broad Street.

We get to the Ritz and have no problem getting in. There are a few clusters of tables throughout but most are Reserved.

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Yea… this bar is amazing.

We get to the bar and there are no seats available. We drop our wet coats and umbrella. We decide the best course of action is to order beers. The bartenders are really busy so when we finally snag one, we order four beers. He’s happy to oblige and Duncan starts a tab.

We know we need to eat so we grab a menu and decide what we want. That’s when the bartender comes back and tells us there is one seat at the back left corner of the bar. We jump on that. It’s a perfect seat. I tell Duncan to take it. He says we’ll take turns. I don’t care. I’m accustomed to being on my feet for long periods of time at the salon. The seat is directly in front of a big flat screen TV.

We’ve done it. This is the most important moment of the entire weekend. Duncan has a front row seat to watch the Superbowl, a drink in his hand, and food on the way.

For me? Mission Accomplished.

To be honest I don’t care about sports. I never have. Do I enjoy watching the important games? Absolutely. But I’m just not a die-hard fan like most men.

My goal is for Duncan to be happy. He came all the way up here for his 50th birthday and to watch the Eagles play in the Superbowl and hopefully win. I’m happy to see him and we’ve had a great weekend together.

The game begins and it’s a tense match. The Patriots have won five Superbowls. The Eagles have never won. There is a stressful exchange of power during this game. When our team gets a goal, the place erupts in cheers. But when it goes the other way, a nervous hush falls over the crowd here at the Ritz.

Like I said, I’m not a sports fan. But that game was probably the greatest sporting event I have ever seen. It was a nail biter to the final minutes.

Finally….

The Philadelphia Eagles Win the Superbowl!!!

 

The place goes crazy. Duncan jumps on me and hugs me like it’s his last time. I’m high fiving and hugging people I don’t even know who have come out of the kitchen to watch. It was one of Philadelphia’s most glorious moments in history. We witnessed it at a lovely bar near a big TV. We really lucked out. Every place was packed or sold out. Duncan had a ringside seat and we were together for this moment.

That’s all that matters to me.

I turn around and the whole place is emptying out. Duncan says he’s going to watch the award ceremony. I tell him I’m going out front for a celebratory smoke.

When I was out here smoking earlier it was pouring raining. There was only two people out on the street.

Now I can’t even see Broad Street.

It is a sea of people.

Thousands and thousands of people have poured out of every bar, tavern or tap-room, and are now marching in the streets of Philadelphia. Cheering, waving flags, chanting, and carrying swag. There are idiots climbing the light poles, but that always happens when we have a major win. There’s a guy trying to rip the Broad Street sign from the pole. There are people dancing on the top of the newsstands. Groups of drunken revelers sitting on top of the bus stop shelter.

But, it’s surprisingly peaceful. There’s just so many people. If something erupted, I don’t think the cops could do anything. People are high fiving and hugging. It’s just such a happy joyous moment in our city’s sports history.

Duncan joins me and he’s loving it. Neither of us have ever seen anything like this in our lives. In 2008 when the Phillies won the World’s Series, the same thing happened, but this seems bigger. We’ve NEVER won the Super bowl. This is huge!

People were going crazy all over the city. I saw people riding on the top of cars like it was nothing. They’re firing fireworks off right over the crowd. It’s insane. Duncan and I hung out on the front of the Ritz for what seemed like two hours. Just watching the spectacle of this celebration from our safe perch. I’d occasionally whip out the flask of Plantation Rum and pass it to him. It was cold out there that night but the rum warmed our bellies.

We were going to leave through the side exit instead of diving right into this madness. But we were told by security that a bunch of people climbed onto the canopy over the door and it collapsed. All I saw was a twisted pile of rubble blocking the exit.

We eventually made it back to Duncan’s hotel. We both flopped in a couple of comfy chairs in the lobby trying to process what just happened. The Eagles beating the New England Patriots and winning their first Super Bowl. The frenzy in the streets that would probably last all night. It was probably one of the best times Duncan and I ever had together.

I’m glad I got to share it with my very best friend.

Here’s a glimpse of what we witnessed.

 

In a sad footnote to this blog that was obviously written a year ago, my dear friend Duncan just lost his mother. At 72 she suddenly had a stroke, and after a fierce battle succumbed to death a week later. We are all reeling from this terrible news and are trying to grasp what has happened to suddenly take her from us. She was a wonderful human being and we will all feel the void of her going. We can only move on now and know that we may all meet again when we are all equal.

I love you Duncan, and cherish  our friendship that sometimes I don’t even feel like I deserve. I hope you and your family can get through this together and know that life is beautiful, fleeting and fragile. 

You knew her for half a century and that is a long time to love in this short time we have on Earth with each other.

I’ve lost both of my parents in a two year span. It is devastating to a family to lose even one of the people that brought us all here.

But we’ll find a way to get through it and move it forward.

Just like we always do.

 

Charles

 

 

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Duncan – Saturday – Part 2

“There is a peacefulness in middle age. I love that we’ve both finally arrived there together.”

Duncan is chill and he’s just happy to be in Philly. He swings by the salon and has resigned himself to the fact that I need to work a million hours at the salon to get our business going.

He knows that It’s down to me and Achilles to keep the business going. Instead of crying that we can’t spend the day stalking comic book stores and strip joints he comes to the gym and works out.

I love this.

My schedule is stuck and I have to do what I have to do for the business. It’s just the world I live in now and we all get it. (It won’t always be like this.)

In the old days Duncan would come up and we would spend a whole week living in the same house. I would drink, he’d smoke pot, we’d watch movies and listen to music.  We’d watch some crazy videos on TV and barbecue, but those days are long gone.

We’re so much older now. Duncan doesn’t crash on my couch anymore. My daughter Lorelei lives with me. Duncan stays at 5 star hotels now. He’s successful. We’re middle-aged. No more crazy times. We still enjoy laughing our asses off at our own jokes and finding things to get into in the city.

But it’s different now. There’s no AC/DC concert today. (Those guys are too old and banged up to play anymore!) Just us. I have to run my business. He’s on the phone with his team at Well Fargo.

But they can’t take our core from us. When he finishes working out in my gym on Walnut Street, we’re going to go drink at City Tap House and get the hookup from my man Zach.

As we get older I see that Duncan has become so much more patient and less impetuous from our younger years. He’s putting up with the fact that I have a different lifestyle now. A salon and fitness center needs attention beyond the 9 to 5 we were so accustomed to.

We do get some special guests that show up unexpectedly

There was this delicious slender Kuwaiti girl who started tanning here last season that suddenly shows up with her friends late in the day. We know these babies come from rich families because there is no other way they could be here in Philly right now.

“Hey do you remember me?”

Shahed?

“Well done! Is it Charles?”

“Well done!”

I have brought my friends with me!”

(They’re all smoking hot)

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I’m stupid happy to see Shahed again and her hot friend Baba and send them both to tan. There is another girl there named Malak that blows them both aways and is Kardashian Hot. Raven hair, milky skin, lips, tits, and body all amazing.

Duncan is a good-looking and fit man but clueless when it comes to the fairer sex, so I lead in with just some general questions.

I don’t want the non tanner to feel threatened or isolated from her friends.

We have a great conversation. I light it like always. She’s a finance major and Duncan is  CFA god, so she’s fascinated. If these guys could just turn their work gifts into picking up girls gifts they’d be fine but they can’t join the two, Sales and power is the same thing. They just don’t connect and can’t see that sales and dating are the same things.

I help him and I can see he;s actually doing well with this Persian cutie.

I love Duncan. My goal has always been same since the 90’s is. If he’s going to make the trip here, give him everything you can. I’ve always trued to do that every time.

I’ll never forget the moment when the girls were done tanning and they all just perched around Duncan like pretty birds and chatted with us. We discussed different restaurants.

They spoke of a really good restaurant in University City that served food that was similar from where they came from.

I joked that we had no idea where it was so they should take us there. surprisingly they seemed cool with that. (Only I could close that)

They are all gorgeous middle eastern babies and I loved the time we spent with them but in the salon. But like my own life, everything is fleeting.

We may never see them again. But surprisingly the Kardashian did inquire about personal training. So that could be a miracle in 2019.

All of these girls are super smart and will take all of their gifts back to Kuwait, But I do have a plan to take one of these girls out to gelato at Gran Caffee L’ Aliquila.

I know. I want to do it. I really want Shahad, but I’d settle on the tall one who keeps looking at me.

I don’t care.

I’ll figure it out like I always do.

The birds giggle away and bound down the steps. I plot my next move. I don’t share this with Duncan, but I’ll eventually tell him how I deflowered at least one of these sweet girls.

I wrap it up at the salon, and Duncan has stretched himself and worked his body out hard enough that he’s ready to be in the next Mission Impossible movie. I think Duncan has really enjoyed the presence of these fresh Kuwaiti babes.

Smart and beautiful. I know Duncan and I find them both intoxicating. But the presence of these girls is what it is and we must let go.

We lock the salon and make our way to City Tap House. My man Zack is behind the stick and I know my Manhattans are FREE.

We hit this big sports bar and Duncan follows my lead. We luck out and land a pair of seats at this enormous sports bar. Tons of tables and a bar that goes on forever

I spot Zack and he’s running. We are here on the day before the Superbowl . It’s a celabratory mess. But my boy Zack is running. I don’t even think he see’s me/my friend. Duncan is happy we got some seats.

Suddenly a Manhattan neat lands in front of me with a brandied cherry at her core. I want to take her so bad. Hot bartender Nicole grabs Duncan and they settle on a draft.

I’m so happy to be with my friend. He gets his beer and asks the server for a plate of carrots and celery. I don’t get it. A side of wings would have worked for me. But for the last 20 years, what ever my friend wants. Normally all he wants is my six-gun ribs, but I never make that anymore.

We hang at the bar. Zach is God. (And when I say God… I mean Free Bulliett Rye Manhattans with a brandied berry)

I chat with lovely Devon and she tells us that most events are ticketed so we’re fucked for the Superbowl. (But we’ll figure it out)

Our bar bill is zero.

We’re happy. But Duncan needs comfort food so we go to Marathon at 16th and Sansom.

He destroys a salad and helps me with an order of mac n cheese that is a $10 dish. Clearly my boy doesn’t eat enough.

My boy Brandon (Beverage Manager for all three locations) stops by the table and says hello. So that one Manhattan’s is free. I get my favorite barbeque chicken sandwich and we’re good. I tell them my Marathon Reward Card doesn’t work and they give me another one. (That one failed too, but we’ll figure it out) I don’t give a shit as long as my friend is happy… I’m happy.

My friend Francesca stops by the table. (See: Francesca – 2014 to Present – Monday Feels Like Friday) She and some other of her co-workers got laid off at her job, so I hooked her up with a job here at Marathon. She used to waitress down the shore in college so she’s already a seasoned pro here. I tell her we’re going back to the Hotel Palomar to hang at Square 1682 after dinner. She says if she gets cut early she’ll swing by for a drink.

Duncan and I have evolved in our friendship. We used to get plowed and hit South street. Now we go to better eateries and bars and sip fine liquor and eat better food. Just a couple of middle-aged men that don’t like a too much noise or drama.

From Tattooed Moms to the Ritz Carlton. Duncan points this out to me. I like it.

There is a peacefulness in middle age. I love that we’ve both finally arrived there together.

I don’t see Duncan for long periods of time but I fucking love this guy. I hope I know him until I die. He’s one of the best people I know.  Just a good man who I’m glad has chosen to keep me in his life.

Dinner is great and our waitress is a doll. We close with one more at Square 1682 at his hotel.

Tomorrow is the Superbowl and we have no plan. We have no tickets to anything, and I’m working until 4pm so we’re basically fucked.

I need to come up with a plan for me and my friend tomorrow. He’s come up here for his 50th birthday and the Eagles are in the Superbowl.

They’ve never won.

They’re playing against the 5 times winning New England Patriots. Apparently Tom Brady is the most hated man in sports since Derek Jeter.

I need to come up with something. I don’t want my friend to be disappointed tomorrow. Every bar in the city will be packed and insane. I don’t finish at the salon until 4pm.  Anybody that wants to watch the Super bowl should already have staked out there space at the bar somewhere.

Duncan has put up with me working through his birthday/Superbowl weekend already. I just feel like I’m failing him as a host and a friend. But I have to do what needs to be done and we’ll make it work just like we always do. But I still feel bad that I don’t have a plan for the Superbowl.

But there is something between us where when we’re pressed against a wall, we always prevail.

Tomorrow is Superbowl Sunday and we will make it work.

We always do and it’s glorious.

We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. Just like we always do.

 

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Miscellaneaous Stories: Super Bowl 2018 – Who should you root for? Five Reasons to Make it the Philadelphia Eagles.

Fans of 30 NFL teams are probably wondering who they should be rooting for in Super Bowl LII on Sunday. And that goes double for people who aren’t fans of any particular team.

As much as a Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots championship appears to present two sides, we all know, deep down, there’s only one way to go.

OK, so maybe not everyone feels that way. But after this, there should be no ifs, ands or buts about your allegiance to the Birds on the biggest Sunday of the year. Ready or not, here are five reasons you should be pulling for the Eagles in Minneapolis:

Note: Don’t miss our five reasons to root for the Patriots.

Get SportsLine’s Super Bowl picks from a Patriots expert who’s 9-2 in his last 11 picks for or against the team, and from an Eagles expert who’s 9-3 in Eagles games and nailed the NFC Championship.

1. Because who isn’t sick of the Patriots dynasty?

Nothing against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the sustained success that New England has found. Question them and their ethics all you want, but videotaped hand signals and deflated footballs are not the only reasons that Belichick is the NFL‘s toughest matchup on the sidelines, Brady at age 40 is an MVP candidate and the Patriots are now vying for a sixth Super Bowl title. This team is good, whether you like it or not, and it has been for a lot longer than any other franchise of this era.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons
You really want to see this again? USATSI

That’s all the more reason, however, to hope for change. We can all appreciate a little nostalgia in fresh developments. Take “Star Wars,” for example, an appropriate analogy here with the overused “Evil Empire” Patriots comparison. “The Force Awakens” was darn near a carbon copy of the 1977 original, albeit in updated form. But we got that with New England in 2016. Brady, Belichick and the Pats, forces of old, came storming back to give us the same story against the Atlanta Falcons, albeit in updated form. Now it’s time for “The Last Jedi” — something strikingly unfamiliar, a bridge into a brand new story and, thus, the end of the Pats dynasty.

If you’re rooting for the Brady Bunch just so Tom can stick it to the fans who are disillusioned enough to think cheating is the only reason he’s one of the greatest to ever play the game, good for you, perhaps. But let’s be real. If 2016’s title — or trips to three of the last four Super Bowls, for that matter — didn’t win everyone over, why will a sixth Lombardi Trophy? We’re past due for a changing of the guard, and what better team to close the book on this overlong New England run than the team that just barely lost to the Pats in the big game more than a decade ago?

2. The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl

As we make a gigantic leap from discussing the Patriots’ hunt for a sixth Super Bowl win, there’s something extra special about a championship game featuring a team that’s never won it all, and we’ve seen it unfold more than a few times in recent history, from the Chicago Cubs’ curse-shattering World Series win in 2016 to the Seattle Seahawks‘ historic blowout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. It doesn’t always work out in favor of the club vying for its first ‘ship (see: 2015 Carolina Panthers), but when it does, bringing home a Lombardi Trophy for the first time in franchise history is like putting the cherry on top of the NFL’s biggest sundae — er, Sunday.

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Even 2004, when the Eagles last made the Super Bowl, seems like ages ago. Getty Images

Philadelphia isn’t completely devoid of championships. Although there are inevitably some same-state Pittsburgh Steelers fans who are bent on convincing you that any NFL games before 1967 didn’t count, the Eagles were the NFL’s top dogs in 1947, ’48 and again in ’60. And yet, for them and their hungry followers, the last five decades have done little more than tease a city starved for a trophy. Even the last great Eagles run, which saw Andy Reid coach the team to historic success and, of course, the club’s last Super Bowl appearance against you-know-who in 2004, included a whopping four NFC Championship Game losses, three of which came back-to-back-to-back.

If you can spare a shred of mercy, you’ll root for the Eagles to accomplish what’s always seemed impossible, putting at ease fans of all ages who tasted — but never truly consumed — a championship course over the last 50-plus years.

3. Philadelphia is the ultimate underdog story

Forget the longtime championship drought and, thus, years of league-wide ridicule. Forget the city’s affair with Hollywood’s affable boxing star, the one and only Rocky Balboa. This year’s Eagles team alone makes for its own underdog story, and that’s probably an understatement.

Here’s a group that finally found its next franchise quarterback only to see him go down with a season-ending injury — along with a Hall of Fame left tackle, a starting linebacker and a slew of other starters or captains — right as the playoffs drew close, then spat in the face of an “underdog” label in their own house, both knocking off the defending NFC champions and handing the universally lauded Minnesota Vikings this year’s most embarrassing loss en route to a Super Bowl with Nick Foles at quarterback.

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Nick Foles could be a Super Bowl winner, and that should tell you everything about this Eagles team’s fight. USATSI

Now, Vegas is playing right into the Eagles’ hands by making the Patriots rather comfortable favorites in Super Bowl LII. No one can blame the oddsmakers for hyping New England, but if you’re not in awe of how much adversity Philadelphia overcame to get to this point, you’re missing one of the most triumphant stories of the season. This isn’t just about players wearing German shepherd masks to poke fun at the odds. It’s about a team with a second-year coach exceeding everyone’s expectations, refusing to be slowed by otherwise detrimental injuries and, week after week, finding different ways to win. Without Carson Wentz and without the respect they’ve earned, especially in recent weeks, the Eagles are shaping up to be the underdog Philly’s always wanted — and, maybe, the one the rest of the NFL needs.

4. The Eagles are incredibly likable

Say what you will about their fans. Some of their NFC championship behavior was inexcusable, but it has also brought about a positive response, and the positive response is much more aligned with how this team has carried itself in 2017. If you want to get cute and ride with the “Evil Empire” description for New England, then the Eagles are absolutely, positively your “Republic” or “Resistance” or whatever “Star Wars” term for “good guys” you prefer.

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Carson Wentz’s spirit has been echoed by the rest of the Eagles’ locker room this season. USATSI

With Wentz at the helm, the Eagles made it clear from the get-go that they weren’t much of a selfish group, standing together not only as a socially conscious unit but as a spiritually connected team. Heavy on their faith in the face of adversity, they have mirrored their coach’s fluctuation between unusual calmness and perfectly timed aggressiveness, all while continuously talking up the selflessness that characterizes the locker room. Pick any one player from the starting lineup or the depth chart, and you won’t find an ego that’s overshadowed what Philly has done over the course of 2017.

Malcolm Jenkins worked tirelessly as a Pro Bowl player but also as a champion of social activism, meeting with local law enforcement, campaigning for legislation and eliciting $89 million in charity donations from the NFL. Chris Long donated his entire year’s base salary to fund students’ education. Wentz spent considerable time connecting with less privileged fans and providing for families in need before coaching up and cheering on the man who’s taken his chance of winning this city a Super Bowl.

The easiest thing to note about these Eagles is that they are more unified, more team-oriented and even more compassionate than most.

5. An Eagles win would restore hope for all, especially defenses

If the Patriots win (again), what do we learn? (Cue the scream from the back: “That cheating is OK!”)

Actually, a sixth New England title probably just reminds us that it’s never a bad thing to have a freakish 40-year-old quarterback or a grizzled head coach like Belichick. Conversely, an Eagles victory would be a victory for all, not merely because of the implications of a rare Patriots defeat but because Philadelphia is exactly the kind of team that every team can strive to be. Wentz obviously played a big role in the team’s run to the playoffs, so a franchise quarterback can’t be understated, but still, if the guys in green proved anything by clinching a spot in Super Bowl LII, it’s that everyday teams can still win championships — and so can defenses.

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Defense can still win championships, and the Eagles can prove that against the Patriots. USATSI

If Nick Foles, a guy whose lone Pro Bowl season was flushed down the toilet by lackluster years outside of Philly, can come back and win it all, anyone can have hope. If the Eagles can lose Wentz, left tackle Jason Peters, running back Darren Sproles, linebacker Jordan Hicks and kicker Caleb Sturgis and still beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl after weeks of being the underdogs, anyone can have hope. And if their ferocious defensive unit, which carried them through some latter stages of the season and stood pat not only against the Falcons but also the Vikings in the postseason, can withstand Brady and bring the Eagles a title, we can all have hope that, in the end, this game is, has been and always will be about the team — not just the quarterback or the coach, but the team.

 

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

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