You can never go home again is, conceptually, something that I think about a lot. I moved to Philadelphia in August of 1999, sight unseen, and began setting up a life away from everything and everyone I had ever known. I was 25 at the time- which seems like a lifetime ago- and the me who followed some damn-fool notion to move 1,054 miles northeast has aged and greyed and despite superficial resemblances is little more than memories and old photographs tucked into honest to god photo albums in my closets.
A few weeks ago I challenged Thomas Wolfe’s edict and went home again; another trip down South to reconnect with old friends, visit the P5 and to record a few oral histories for my various archival projects, some of which may never end up publicly shared but were, at least, captured for posterity. It’s always so weird going ‘home’- the South in general is pleasantly and endearingly weird and the longer I live up North the weirder and more magical the South seems when I find myself visiting. I had very little time to think about the differences with almost every waking moment spoken for between recording the interviews, meeting up with loved ones and doing my best to process everything.
One of my histories was with a retired body pierced named Mike Natali; formerly of the Silver Anchor and Bravo! Body Jewelry companies and a pretty influential part of my mid/late teens and early 20s. I hadn’t seen Mike in almost two decades, but after a few minutes in his Tampa apartment we found ourselves easing back into the old days via stories from our shared relationship with Jack Yount and the ‘middle school’ era of the western piercing scene; it was really the first time I’ve done an oral history with someone who’s history was so closely intwined with mine and I admit that I lost any level of distance or objectivity when we were talking about long forgotten memories. I was lucky to be able to see Mike twice in four days and was joined on the second visit by our old (mutual) friend Nolan who was kind enough to snap some photos of Mike and I after lunch. Seeing the photo (left) I can’t’ help but notice how much I’ve aged since the last time we were together.
Getting old has been on my mind a lot lately; schtick mostly but also the reality of the process that seems to be going faster than it did when I was in my twenties; how time seems to be speeding up as my life finally settles into the adventure that I share with Julia as my wife and the other half of my heart; the fancy dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant with sport coat and tie and a bundle of pre-date jitters that seems like it was only yesterday is almost three years past, following her down the red hallway at her old apartment, nervous that she wouldn’t like me now a story from long ago. It’s weird and comforting and amazing that every day we spend together- rushing around the Magic Kingdom making sure that we get to ride all of the rides on our incredibly detailed itinerary, sitting on the bed watching SVU with Mr. Bailey Papers and telling each other about our day… even the quiet moments become nodal points for a future treasured memory.
I think it’s natural to have those reality check moments about getting older; remembering all of the experiences that have brought me to where I am now and applying them to how I want the second half of this amazing, surreal and adventurous life to be.
Today has been an oddly sentimental day for me. Good sentiment; not melancholic but my brain keeps directing me back to friends and loved ones that aren’t around anymore. It’s inspired more smiles than anything.
memores acti prudentes futuri
A few updates ago I went off on a tirade about the lack of video stores in Philadelphia (and much of America, I’m sure) and how we have less options these days than we did five, ten years ago. Luckily for us, Philadelphia at least has Exhumed Films. I’ve been going to their shows off and on since I moved to Philly; sometimes in New Jersey, sometimes in the city proper- wherever they have a location. They’re a group of movie fans who screen rare 35mm prints of cult, horror and exploitation films, sort of like a less commercial Alamo Draft House save that they don’t have their own location. It’s moved around quite a bit and most recently has a home at the International House on Chestnut Street.
My schedule these days means that I miss most of their offerings, but when things line up I always try to make screenings, even if I’ve never heard of the movie being shown. Last night the boys hosted REMOTE CONTROL; a little seen 1988 horror flick from by BLUE SUNSHINE director Jeff Lieberman starring Kevin Dillion, Deborah Goodrich and Jennifer Tilly. Best of all, Jeff was on hand to introduce the movie, show a 16mm print of his first short, an ironically trippy antidrug PSA called RINGERS. The turnout was good; I always want to see more people at these screenings but there were at least 100 in attendance, so that was pretty rad. It’s always good to see these movies with a full and appreciative audience. Having seen ONLY GOD FORGIVES in San Diego with a packed house of people who didn’t realize they were seeing a weirdo art film a few weeks ago.. I really appreciate an audience that knows what it’s getting into. Jeff stuck around for a Q&A after the movie but I had to jet; missed out on that as well as picking up a poster/print for the screening. I always do that. I swear I’m going to start biking there with a poster tube in my bag.. I missed out on the TCM2 print a few months ago for the same reason. One day I’ll learn.
But all that aside.. it was a great night. The film was appropriately cheesy and worth seeing. I love when they do movies on my free nights. I was sad not to see my friend and fellow cult film nerd Rob at the showing, but as luck would have it, I randomly ran into him today and we had an in-depth movie nerd sidewalk conversation that ranged from old work stuff (Apparently Dave Clark, the biggest douchebag I met in all my years at Amazon- bigger than Paul Lysko, Jenna Owens or Fern) just shared the stage with President Obama in some Amazon PR crap. We had a lot of sport with that, then moved on to discussing 1980s porn, cut scenes, the death of the video store culture… all the stuff that makes life worth living. Rob and I have this weird friendship where we see each other in random spots. Been that way since we worked together and has continued the three plus years I’ve been out of the DFC.
So much nerdery.
Otherwise it’s a nice slow day. Haircut, finally. Gym time. Playing mediator between Bailey and
Mervin as they both fought to use me as a pillow. Built a bicycle for Julia and then m
ore Game of Thrones reading and gearing up for movie night with Erin at 7pm. Full day so far and it feels like it’s just starting.
In two days I turn 39.
I’m in travel planning overload, Internet.
I’ve been searching flights for my San Diego > San Francisco trip and am pretty surprised by the costs. I just paid $101 to go from Philly to Austin Texas, but the cheapest flight I’ve found from SD to SF is $117. Such is life; I probably should have booked earlier, so I’ll take what I get. I’m getting super excited for the trip; Three days in San Diego and two in San Francisco. Pushead Collector buddies, tattoo buddies and adventures. Can’t really ask for more than that so I won’t complain too much when I book the ticket tomorrow. I think I have most of the lodging situations worked out for both legs of the trip and soon I’ll start looking into public transport options- San Diego Airport to the city, etc. Usually I’m much more ‘seat of my pants’ than this, but I’m trying to be an adult about it and have all of my ducks in a row before I get out there to hopefully thwart any last minute chaos.
Girlfriend | Good Friend | Best Friend
Non-travel related, things have been coming up Aces in my life lately. I feel like the last year of therapy and working on myself has really paid off; my relationship with Julia is amazing. Lessons I learned the hard way are coming easy now; hard conversations are a breeze since we’re working with mutual respect and understanding. I’m really lucky to have the life I have. Even had a bit of a milestone the other day- Julia met my good friend (and former girlfriend) Natalie and they got along swimmingly. I’ve never really been able to stay friends with an ex before much less introduce them to a current love, so this was kind of new territory for me but it worked out just fine. I keep deviling the recently blonde Natalie about my fear and dislike of change, but if change means that I can keep up a friendship with her, I’m all for it.
Other than that I’ve been keeping pretty low-key of late. Saving money for the trips has kept me pretty boring. Movies, hangouts with Julia, movies with Erin, walks with Bailey. I have the life I want right now. Stable and fun with little bits of travel, adventure and chaos.
Photos: Hex Sign (inset: Julia, Natalie and Erin)
Spring is finally here in Philadelphia. Sure it’s spitting rain and snow and I’m still wrapped up in layers of warm clothing, but technically it’s spring and that means its time for renewal. Carmela, Robin, Perk and I are making some great headway with the STAY CALM memorial day scheduled for 27th April; saying goodbye and celebrating Shannon’s life with 150+ (and counting!) friends that we made through BME/IAM through an all day celebration. We’ve got a park get-together/BBQ planned, private suspension events and a kickass wake/celebration at the bar that’s sure to be memorable.
It’s been a very surreal couple of days; the Dim Sum get together was great; telling stories and sharing communal memories of some really great times and people. Facebook has been ablaze with old friends reconnecting and resuming friendships that time and distance had gotten in the way of. I’d rather have Shannon still with us (I keep saying it- I’m going to miss arguing with him) but since that’s simply not am option at least we have this great surge of community that’s come about as a result of losing him.
Otherwise life keeps keeping on. I finally nutted up and registered for my first 5k, running with Erin. It’s going to be really rad- I’ve got my indoor time down to 26-30m for 5k, but this will be outdoors with other runners. I’m excited even though it’s on the morning of Stay Calm. I’ll have worked until 2am the night before and will probably stay up late catching up with my beloved Bethany, so I should be properly screwed by the time the run starts. But it’s a great metaphor for staying positive and working through it, so for that alone I’m pretty excited and have nothing but PMA about it. I probably won’t match my indoor runtimes, but if I can manage a 5.5/6mph pace I’ll be happy.
If things work out and I enjoy the group dynamic, expect me to be bugging you guys all summer for donations for races; I really want to fundraise for the Aids walk so be prepared. Over the years I’ve always given runners/walkers cash citing that if I give them money I don’t have to get up early and run. Now the dynamic has flipped and it’ll be me out there at 8am in comically short shorts and a number pinned to my chest. Hopefully people will be kind and support the causes I’m running for.
My buddy Jimmy treated me to another Lucero gig on Thursday. It was great to get out of my own head/thoughts and just go listen to some great rock and roll movie, talk tattoos with Jimmy and Sailor Eddy (who invited me to the shop to talk for OV) and OBMF Josh. I really needed that kind of laid back fun night. I’m going to work on having more of those.
Photo: Receding Hairline, go!