Opera Night, with J-Lou, the Vee, and the Big E. Where to begin? Sometime around the winter of 00/01 I got hell deep into going to see the Philadelphia Orchestra. I heard somewhere that the cheapest seat in the house was five bucks and having hit rock bottom in the Totally Crushing Loneliness Department I figured this was cheaper than a movie. I got hooked pretty fast. If you had ten in your pocket you could totally get your Bach on for a measly fiver then two hours later shuffle down to the Glinch and spend the other five on a few brews while getting tips on prime classical vinyl from Fred the Bartender (who once played in an orchestra conducted by Stravinsky.) Fred’s tips were (and still are) always the best.
“The Budapest String Quartet?” I’d say. “So they’re really the real deal?”
“Their teachers,” Fred would say, leaning forward, “KNEW BRAHMS!”
Classical was and still is a cheap thing to get into. Why punk rockers don’t realize this is beyond me. Five bucks is cheaper than any show at the Church or even most basements and you can get most classical LPs for around a buck. To me, it was no-brainer. Opera Night was an extension of this sensibility. It occurred to me that I didn’t know jack shit about Opera, so one day I went down to the Free Library, took out a copy of the Magic Flute on x2 CD, and went over to Lou’s. We put the opera on, cranked the volume, and got drunk. Holy shit, we thought. That was fun.
Operas are hours and hours long, and the fact that you could get them from the library meant there were countless hours of FREE ENTERTAINMENT to be had. Amazing, right? Lou and I didn’t know the first thing about Opera but we figured as long as we had a few bottles of wine and listened to one Opera a week that some day we’d get it. Thus, Opera Night was born.
People got interested, hearing that indeed Lou and I were drinking wine and listening to an Opera every Sunday night. A few months into it and more and more people showed up. It kinda became an Urban Legend: five dudes got drunk and listened to an Opera once a week — huh?
Maybe a year into it we went official. Big E’s friend Mettea worked at Fuime and West Philly, Sundays no less. So we brought the Opera, they served dollar glasses of Carlo Rossi, and we cranked the volume all the way up. You really should have been there. On our biggest night the place was packed, mostly girls and our gang, Verdi at full blast, everyone wasted and super happy. Who does that? Who listens to Opera at a bar that loud? No one, man.
It’s a shame how much shit we got for it. Philly’s come a long way since those days, now that we’ve got Avant Gentlemen, Unicorn Girls, Freak Parades, Solstice Celebrations, and Man Men — because back then five dudes who just wanted to listen to people singing their lungs out about love, death, poison, and being lost at sea — all for free while drinking on the cheap — got clowned till the days end on the tired grounds of being “Pretentious.”
Hot Toddy Night, early ’02, at J-Klew’s East Falls Manse high up on Calumet Street. Basically, this: none of us had ever had a Hot Toddy before, but seriously, on a cold winter night, doesn’t that just sound like the tastiest thing? We Googled every Hot Toddy Recipe we could find and made huge boiling pots of them all, the kitchen smelling like oranges and cinnamon. The only rule was if you came to Hot Toddy Night, you had to wear a sweater, and you had to drink Hot Toddys. No one complained.
I am the Lizard King. I can do anything.
– Jim Morrison
Yet another Outer Limits pic from The Trip, DE/Maryland, Summer ’05. This one feels so Turned On it’s giving you the Flashback, and you weren’t even there! See you on the other side.