Monday 08.26.2013

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Another late night at work.
I’ve been finished with all work related responsibilities for an hour and a half and now I’m just relaxing in the quiet dark bar by myself, listening to the Smiths and unwinding. It was ‘date day’ with Julia today and as always… it was the best date day we’ve ever had. Part of that is knowing that the next one will be even better and still being able to enjoy it  in the moment. We did a repeat of last Sunday’s fun, going to see the documentary Cutie and the Boxer, (now in my top 5 of 2013)  having lunch at Han Dynasty and finishing it off with frozen yogurt with delicious cookie dough crumbles dropped in.

The documentary was great; not so much about the artistic output of the two main subjects of the film but the examination of how a couple interacts and works together. When Noriko told Gyu-Chan that “Cutie loves Bullie so much” after a little bit of really honest henpecking and they both laugh together.. waterworks. Obviously love and happiness have been on my mind a lot lately, so seeing this cute couple that has been through so much together still having this devotional connection really sits well with me. Despite continuously documenting my life via diaries, zines, blogs etc over the last twenty something years, I’ve never particularly been a documentary fan but recently my favorite films of the year lists have been dominated by them; 2012’s BEAUTY IS EMBARRASSING and this year’s THE ACT OF KILLING and CUTIE AND THE BOXER have all made a tremendous impact on me with the little windows into other people’s lives.

Walking back to the bar with Julia, holding hands and stealing looks… just sort of summed up the last four months-ish for me and really drove home that I’m choosing to be happy. That it works if you let it. If my artist girlfriend ever chronicles our life together I’ll be very interested in the output and how she filters the experiences and adventures we’re having. Seeing her perspective on our life, not just my own…

The things you think about at 4am, huh?

ovpatchmockup1I’ve been very blessed (can an atheist be blessed?) lately. Since I made my post the other day about team Occult Vibrations and our fundraising campaign for the Philly Aids Walk 5k I’ve been incredibly humbled by the generosity of my friends, employees and total strangers, and in 13 days have raised $800 (and counting), beating my goal of $500 in record time and encouraging me to set my sights on $1000. I have a little less than two months to go to raise the remaining $200, so I think I’ll meet that goal as well. And it’s not just me who’s seen support in fundraising; Julia just recently hit the $500 mark and the rest of the team has been very proactive about getting the word out, soliciting their friends, family etc and as a group, Occult Vibrations has raised $1815 to benefit HIV/AIDS charities in the Philadelphia area, exceeding our team goal of $1500! We’ve raised the team goal to $2000 but I have absolute faith that we can surpass that as well.

Is it wrong to say that I’m proud of us? Of myself? I’m not sure if you’re supposed to self congratulate when you’re doing charity stuff, but I think we’ve been really fortunate to have the friends that we have and the support that we’ve gotten and I’m really happy to be part of this, team leader or not.

The tattoo appointment with Bink that I spoke about in my last update got pushed back to Tuesday (tomorrow) so I’m getting in that antsy/excited pre-tattoo phase where I’m both nervous and geeked; I don’t regret any of the tattoos I’ve gotten (even the ones I’ve covered) by any means, but I really wish I would have found Robert earlier and been able to have more big work from him. His aesthetic and personality just resonate with me so much; you end up getting a really honest tattoo from a really grounded human when he tattoos you, so I’m really glad that we’re going to be starting a pretty larger piece. It’ll give me more time spent in his booth instead of just quickshot one-offs and I can really soak up everything he has to offer. While he jabs needles into a really soft and sensitive part of my body. Fun.

I really wanted to get into how nerdy and rad it was to see Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and World’s End) at the Riverview the other night, touristing with Alex and Tianna and everything else that I’ve been up to since the last update, but I’m finally exhausted and Julia is at home waiting for me.

It’s all about priorities.

Photos: Cantrell Street. Inset: OV Logo.

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Monday 08.12.2013

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A few years ago I was asked to join in the annual Philadelphia AIDS Walk. I did what I always did- gave some money so I wouldn’t have to wake up at 6am on a Sunday morning and had a few friends donate as well. My conscience was clear. No need to trouble myself, right? I still did my part…

OVAW2013This year, I realize that fundraising is great, but so is getting out there in person, waking up at 6am (after working until 3am) and running a 5k and being thankful that I’ve got my health when so many people in the Philadelphia area (and beyond) can’t say the same. With that in mind, I’ve put together TEAM OCCULT VIBRATIONS and am asking my friends to either donate to my team or JOIN IT! We’ll have some fun, make some memories, and raise much needed funds for people in our area affected by HIV/AIDS. I’m going to be guilting the hell out of you, friends and family, so get used to harassment! My runner page is here: http://www.aidswalkphilly.org/profile/detail/204162

Please consider giving what you can; every little bit helps and there are going to be premiums for donations like exclusive Occult Vibrations shirts, me coming to your house and cooking you dinner and more!

The last few days have been perfect. Nice little date day with Julia; we went and saw Joshua Oppenheimer’s unparalleled documentary THE ACT OF KILLING which instantly shot to the #1 spot in my 2013 Films list. So surreal and visceral and… I’d never seen anything like it. It’s going to get a lot of comparison to  Barbet Schroeder’s GENERAL IDI AMIN DADA but I think it stands on it’s own as something wholly unique. Haunting really; beautiful but ultimately disturbing. If it’s playing in your area it’s worth a theatrical viewing.

We decided to wash away the utter headtrip of the movie with some spicy dinner from Han Dynasty (you have to respect a restaurant named HANDY NASTY) and a nice relaxing trip to the park where we talked, laughed, got oogled by tourists and made out like teenagers. Every day better than the last.

Tuesday 05.28.2013

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I have three windows open right now attempting to update blogs.
ModBlog: The history of the Scarwars events.
Occult Vibrations: A writeup on visiting Tulsa for the opening party of the legendary Richard Stell’s new PAIR O DICE Tattoo.
Sacred Debris: Well. That’s this one. So at least one of them is getting some love.

It’s late in the night/early in the morning on my brother’s 40th birthday. That’s so weird. Mainly because it means I’ll be forty next year. I’ve been telling people I’m forty for about a year (little white lies) to help me acclimate to the reality that I’m not a kid anymore. Robert’s been forty since he was nine, so he’s probably more used to it, but me? I’m going to have a hard time with it. At least he’s at Disney in Orlando for STAR WARS week or whatever it’s called. Disney being the happiest place on Earth and all.

Being happy is of paramount importance to me these days. It’s odd that being happy should be something people have to think about. We should all be happy to be happy. But that slips away from you as you get older and the pressures of the real world start weighing down on you. I’ve spent the last year working on PMA and positive life changes and lately get told by people that I ‘look happy’. I think of all of the compliments I’ve gotten about getting healthy, getting smaller, getting fit- that someone telling me that I look happy is the best compliment I’ve gotten. Well. That and ‘you look hot’ because ultimately I’m pretty shallow and who doesn’t like that sort of attention.

307048_10200960151753518_1266966728_nObviously I’ve been really geeked with the whole process of getting to know and falling for Julia; things are going so great and we’re really finding a balance with each other’s personalities- but I’m happy to report that I’m not happy because of the new relationship; I’m happy on my own and having her in my life augments and enriches the happiness. In the past I’ve made the mistake of letting the thrill of finding an amazing partner replace something that’s missing in my life and let me tell you- that puts unnecessary pressure on both sides. When you’re looking for your other half to make you happy- and you’re not happy on your own- it just can’t work. But I was in a really great place before she and I became ‘us’ so we’re confident that things will work out organically.

Also, she’s really pretty.

Just saying.

So yeah. Tulsa.
Anyone who’s been around the tattoo world for the last twenty or so years should be familiar with Richard Stell’s work. It’s clean, bold and ballsy. He’s known for his cat tattoos (Panthers, Jaguars, Tigers etc) but the man puts on a serious traditional kickass tattoo regardless of subject matter. For the record, he’s always kind of intimidated me- which isn’t a bad thing. Tattooers USED to have that kinda gruff, scary edge. It added to the mystery of the whole tattoo scene. But my friend Jennifer married him, so I knew he must be a good dude on top of being a stellar (see what I did there?) tattooer and heading out to Tulsa for his birthday completely affirmed that. He’s a really nice guy. Funny. Tells a great story (That 50 Cent story still has me laughing) and when he talks about Jennifer has this big ol’ grin on his face. I like that; she deserves it.

The whole tattoo part of the story will be up on Occult Vibrations soonish. I prefer to keep my blogging tidy so I’ll just stick to the whole travel experience here, which was fucking terrible. I’ve been flying Southwest Airlines for years, and this was hands down the worst experience I’ve ever had with them. Three out of four of the planes were late including a multi hour delay on the initial journey, snarky customer service, deboarding a plane that they said was going to St. Louis but was actually my Tulsa flight (I had a ticket. you don’t get a ticket with a different flight number if it’s the same plane) and having to wait in line to reboard the plane I just exited.. it was a nightmare.  But everyone I met in Tulsa was super rad. It was a really short trip- all told only really  one day- but totally worth all of the trouble. I felt bad for not having a chance to meet some friends who live in/near Tulsa, but I was pretty threadbare with time and it’s difficult to leave the event you flew out to attend to do anything else.

Once I get the OV stuff written, I’ll link to it so you can read the rest of the story.

I have so much stuff going on right now that it’s hard to get it all in. My life is coming up Milhouse right now and my friends, family and loved ones are a major part of that. Travel, adventure, toys, tattoos, movies and my lady…

What more could I ask for?

Photos: Tulsa. Inset: Julia. 

Saturday 01.12.13

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I’ve finally found a few minutes to stretch back, relax and attempt a proper Florida Adventure blog post. I’ve barely slowed down since getting back from Tampa Thursday night; work, sleep, gym, movies, Bailey time, work- it all adds up. But here we are at 4am with me unable to really wind down, Bailey curled protectively close to me and nothing but time, so.. here goes.

I went down to Florida with the intention of  severing ties. To somehow say goodbye to my former life down there; the house I grew up in, etc, like it would somehow be therapeutic to have no more connection to it. Working in therapy has made me realize that I’m not quite through processing my Mother’s death, so I thought that a ‘shock to the system’ would be the motivator I needed to tidy things up, emotionally. I’m always trying to find a logical way to process things.

Instead, what I found in Florida was a shell of a house; not the home I grew up in. There was a bed, some random towels in a hamper,  two couches, and a kitchen table my Dad built out of two sawhorses and a piece of drywall. It’s ‘what’s left’- not some imposing reliquary of the life I had. As soon as I got my stuff settled a calm crept in; I knew I was going to have a fun vacation.

537194_10200095886307422_1705087150_nMy first step- even before getting to P5, was to go to Jimbo’s. I’ve been eating at Jimbo’s since 1974 and every visit to Florida includes as many trips there as possible. My tomato allergy doesn’t really include eating BBQ sauce. My dietary limitations (self imposed) don’t really include eating BBQ; hush puppies, ribs, french fries. So as you can imagine… I tore it up. Caution to the wind (and tons of Benedryl) and no calories counted I ate at Jimbo’s a total of five times in four days. I didn’t end up having any reaction to the tomato, which is strange. Usually, even with the antihistamines, I have some sort of reaction. This time, despite eating a risky amount of sauce… nothing. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m ‘growing out’ of the allergy, if my immune system just handles my allergies better now that I’m a much healthier fella or what. All I know is that I managed to enjoy my favorite BBQ on the planet all week, buy a few bottles of sauce and do it all guilt free. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Next step was to visit some friends. Catching up with Ari (who I haven’t seen in a few years) and Skip and Bobby (who I haven’t seen in even more) the first night, getting tattooed by David the following day, finally meeting Teresa, seeing Casper and Dee…. Now that I’m back I can’t imagine why I’d ever want to say goodbye to Florida. I spent almost all my free time with my friends, goofing around, talking about the old days, telling stories to the folks who weren’t around for the chaos that used to be Ybor. The names that Skip and I were throwing around (Bad Penny!) were people I hadn’t thought about in years. Coming right off the heels of seeing Chad Chesko last week, talking to Skip and Dee and Caspar was amazing. So many rad memories.

ImageOf course, the point of being in Tampa, aside from my emotional baggage, was to get tattooed. My good friend David had started working on my ribs back in 2008 and we’d taken a little break in finishing the tattoo. He had some free time in his schedule and devoted a day to knocking out as much of it as we could- which turned out to be the whole tattoo plus some added work. We still have to add a background, but that’s for another day. I managed to sit for around six hours on one of the most painful spots to get tattooed, thanks to David’s advice about tattoo nutrition- when to eat what and all of that. We also stole a little time to add a little best friend tattoo to my arm; Bethany got my portrait on her arm last May and I’ve been trying to get a little something to match since then. I had planned on a little Bee, since she’s my big Bee, and I’ll probably still do that, but for now… the little BTxSP hardcore logo sums it all up. She’s always there for me, and I do my best to always be there for her. So a little permanent reminder seemed like a great idea.

Despite the pain, it was amazing to be able to spend a little time with David. We used to see each other a lot more often, but real life has a tendency to get the best of us so being able to just shoot the breeze with him was perfect.  We had a Jimbo’s visit, talked about our fitness and health routines, about the ‘post breakup’ trauma that plagued me for a few months, his move to Tampa, how his family is adjusting to it, and of course down and dirty tattoo bullshitting. The kind of nerdy talk that makes me the happiest. Such a good time.

The rest of my trip was spent being social; my friends really busted their asses to make sure that I had a good time; Skip and Caspar kept the Sprites and Club Sodas coming, Teresa walked me around Saint Petersburg- which contained more dead opossums than expected- and before I knew it my time was up. I grabbed one more meal at Jimbo’s, pointed my rented Crown Victoria at the airport and said my goodbyes to the place that I thought I was done with. As I sat in the airport, exhausted and sore, I knew, with a hundred percent certainty, that I’d be visiting again. Maybe to get tattooed. Maybe not. But the memories I made down there are worth revisiting; the friends worth seeing and while Philadelphia is now my home, Florida will always be a part of me.

Off to the gym!

Photos: Dead End? Maybe not. Our driveway in Plant City. Jimbos and Tattoos (inset)