Six Years Ago . . .

My brother’s a DJ. And the house is filled with records. Stuffed in closets, lying on the floor, up in the loft, wherever they can fit. He’s also a sneaker collector. He’s like a male Imelda Marcos. I don’t even know if I can still use that cultural reference. Imelda Marcos, the wife of ex-Philippine Dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She had a bit of a shoe collection. And by bit, I mean it filled houses.

And while Kevin V is in the Philippines taking an extended vacation (O how I wish I could be on one, as well!) he asks me to pick up some stuff from his Old City apartment. Apparently he plans on being in the foreign country past his lease.

His roommate’s also named Jay and works at a furniture store around the corner. He’s at work when me and Mika-Sempai bust into the apartment. She takes care of the hamster while I gather a million boxes of sneakers to stuff into his little Volkswagen GTI. They barely fit. I’m supposed to take some other things, too, but — shoot — they ain’t gonna fit.

Mika barely fits into the shoebox-filled car too, and I bring her back to her place before heading back into the wonderful boring suburbs. I pass Silk City at 5th and Spring Garden and it always reminds me of a fun story from when I first turned twenty-one. Two, actually.

April 18, 1999
I turn the big two-one. I’ve managed to avoid alcohol for the longest time — I don’t like getting drunk. But I’ve run out of excuses. Today’s my birthday. Twenty-first. The one you celebrate by getting so ess-faced that you don’t remember your own name. Many cases, you also lose the ability to walk and distinguish between cute and not-cute girls. But I digress.

After the eight-dollar margaritas [and the best burritos I’ve eaten in a while] at Mad For Mex we head over to Silk City. My bro knows the door guy . . . hell he spins there every month . . . . well he gets me and Jay Lacz in for free. It’s both our birthdays. He’s a day before mine. Thay actually don’t let me in Mad for Mex until the exact second of midnight. Five minutes after everyone else is seated.

At Silk, my bro brings out this thing called the Volcano. The best way I could describe it is heaven in a gigantic ceramic bowl, with a shot of Bacardi 151 lit on fire in the middle.

It being our birthdays, my esteemed older brother instructed both me and Jay to throw the straws into the flame and finish the Bacardi as fast as we can, because the flame would melt the straw or whatever. On the count of three, I finished that shot all on my own. Jay Lacz dipped right into the rum.

I remember walking into a door later that night and the next morning I remember Carl’s cat watching me use the toilet with my face.

October 23, 1999
Kevin V’s doin’ it up right with the rest of the PSC crew at their monthly Philadelphia Experiment. Four DJs, one dance floor. My cousin Aiyetta just moved from New York, New York, to Levittown, PA and I got to drive her down to Silk.

House music has never been my thing. I like it, but only in small doses. I’d be just as happy listening to Radiohead for three hours straight. Or singer-songwriter Jamie O’Donnell.

Aiyetta and me get to Silk, and I kick back with a Corona, two shots of vodka (straight), and two Kamikazees, and then oh no! I realise it’s already midnight, and I have work the next morning!

I have to leave my darling cousin in my brother’s capable hands, and I have to jet back to Bristol because I’m still living with my parents at the age of 21. Things don’t really change six years later, by the way.

Of course I don’t really drive through the city that often at the age of 21. More like, ever. I was here once before and my bro told me how to get home. This time I’m on my own. Of course, my awesome sense of direction lands me on the Ben Franklin Bridge. I don’t wanna pay the toll just because I made a wrong turn somewhere so I make the U-turn in the middle of this wide, expansive bridge. Next thing I know my rear-view tells me some a-hole in a van is tailing me. There are three open lanes and this effer decides to tailgate me?!

I get the bottom and the lights flash and the siren chirps.

No, officer, I haven’t been drinking that much. Yes, officer, only a beer. And a vodka. Sure, I’ll step out of the car.

He takes a pen from his shirt pocket and repeats to me five times to look at the pen. After the third time I wanna ask if he wants me to follow the pink elephant’s snout. You know, the one standing behind him. He runs the pen back and forth and tells me to follow the tip of the pen and makes me wait in my car for a couple minutes before finally letting me go.

He also tells me not to make U-turns on the Ben Franklin Bridge anymore.

You’d think I learned my lesson. Six years later I just do it up locally, so I don’t have to drive half an hour home. Now I can walk home because there’s a Pines Tavern down the road.

But small town bars aren’t the same as City bars. You walk into the Pines, you could just as well be in a dive bar in the Midwest. Or the South. Minus the cowboy hats. Maybe I’m just a bit cynical of the small-town suburban bar. Maybe I just miss the Khyber. Maybe the fact that since, without any money, I can only lock myself in my house with a collection of guitars and air-conditioning and an overactive imagination.

The overactive imagination has led me to create Jay V Mail. It’s my semi-weekly Podcast where I answer listeners’ questions.

Anyone who knows of any jobs for someone who spent way too much time slacking off in college while taking a music major, computer science major, and information systems major, contact me.

I’m in desperate need.

1 Comment so far

  1. suzanne (unregistered) on July 31st, 2005 @ 2:29 pm

    Mmmm, Philippines. My partner is over there right now, too. Highly jealous.

    Now, I suddenly want to hit up clubs with local DJs. Because. Well. Also jealous. It sounds fun, to say the least.

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