Tales of Rock – The Best Band You Never Heard – Solace

I love this band!

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Solace is a heavy metal band hailing from the Jersey ShoreUnited States.

Formed in 1996 by the remaining members of Atlantic Records artist Godspeed, Solace is most well known in the stoner rock genre, but as guitarist and founding member Tommy Southard has said “We’re not a stoner band, we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band—a hard rock band, a metal band.”[1] This idea was reaffirmed by iTunes.com in 2010 when they voted the band’s third studio album A.D. “2010 Metal Album of the Year”.[2] However, their live performances at Stoner Rock festivals such as America’s Emissions from the Monolith and Europe’s Roadburn Festival, have rooted them just as deeply in that genre.

 

Godspeed years[edit]

In 1994, east coast rockers Godspeed went to Electric Lady Studios to record their Atlantic Records debut album Ride. Featuring future Solace members Tommy Southard and Rob Hultz, Godspeed’s major label run included a cover of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” for Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath with Iron Maiden‘s Bruce Dickinson, tours of the United States and Europe with Black SabbathDioCathedral, and Sugartooth, as well as a music video for their single “Houston Street” featured on MTV‘s Headbanger’s Ball and Beavis and Butt-head.

The birth of Solace[edit]

Godspeed dissolved after just one album, but following stints as lead guitarist for both Sugartooth and Slap Rocket, Southard reformed the band in 1996 with Hultz and former Glueneck singer Jason, naming the revamped outfit Solace. After a 1997 demo, Solace released their self-titled 7″ debut in 1998, followed by 1999’s Distanced from Reality EP, a split with fellow New Jerseyans Solarized.

Soon afterwards, the band released its debut LP, 2000’s Further. A cover by metal art veteran Wes Benscoter (Slayer‘s Divine Intervention) hinted at darkness within the album, which was quickly considered a departure from the stoner rock pigeon-hole the band had already been put into.

13 and beyond[edit]

In 2003, the band released the follow-up to Further, its second full-length album 13. Artist, fan, and friend of Solace Paul Vismara created the album’s cover. Considered by some to be musically superior to its predecessor,[3] 13 helped Solace further define themselves as more than simply stoner rock, assisted by the vocals and guitar work of doom metal legend Scott Weinrich (also known as Wino, formerly of The ObsessedSaint Vitus, and Spirit Caravan) on the track “Common Cause”.

Soon after the release of 13, the song “Indolence” was used on the soundtrack of the popular video game Tony Hawk’s Underground. 2003 also saw the band tweak their line-up with former Lethal Aggression drummer Kenny Lund and the addition of second guitarist Justin Daniels. With this new line-up, they entered the studio once again in 2004 to record Black Market/Hammerhead, a split EP with Albany, New York‘s Greatdayforup.

Solace’s half of this split EP was re-released on vinyl in 2006. In April of that year, Solace headed to Europe for Holland’s Roadburn Festival. Upon their return, they strengthened their resolve further toward a new release. The band went into the studio to finish their third album A.D. in time for their Summer 2007 European tour with British doomsters Orange Goblin, only to realize that their creation was simply too vast for a single album. Four tracks were selected for release as The Black Black, which was completed and pressed to coincide with the European tour.

On the heels of that successful tour, they were signed to independent label Small Stone Records, after which they were asked by friends Orange Goblin to play their annual Christmas show in London. Solace’s set was capped by band friend and fellow New Jerseyan Ed Mundell of Monster Magnet joining them onstage for their infamous cover of Pentagram‘s Forever My Queen.

2008 saw an interesting turn of events for Solace – drummer Kenny Lund took his leave to follow business pursuits and other projects. This, while being a seemingly negative turn of events, had in actuality quite a positive effect – it opened the door for Solace’s original drummer[4] Keith Ackerman to rejoin the band. Guitarist Daniels has stated: “This is the band’s most dynamic lineup to date”.[5]

The band used this momentum to continue their upswing throughout 2009, completing their third studio LP A.D.. The long-awaited album was released to critical acclaim in Spring 2010 and received such honors as “Album of the Year” at The Obelisk,[6] and was voted by iTunes “Best Metal Album of 2010”.[7] The band finished out the year touring Europe with Orange Goblin and once again playing their annual Christmas show.

Bad luck[edit]

From early in their career, Solace has been faced with almost mysterious problems. The band had an estimated 8 different drummers between 1996 and 2003[8] and suffered through supposed splits with vocalist Jason. Even seemingly random accidents—one resulting in the destruction of the original master tapes to their second album 13—vexed the band.[9]

This curse seemed to be lifted at least somewhat in 2003, but returned only a year later when drummer Kenny Lund was diagnosed with cancer. All of the band’s plans were halted, including a new recording contract with independent label Century Media. This setback did not stop them from returning to the studio once Lund recovered in 2005 to begin work on tracks for A.D. Later that year, the band faced yet another hurdle—this time in the form of undisclosed personal problems and were forced to cancel a coast-to-coast US tour.

Solace continued sporadic work on A.D. up to its critically acclaimed release in 2010, only to announce in June 2011 via their official Facebook page that they were “closed for business” and that they “may or may not re-open”.[10] However, as soon as 2012, the band cited they were active again.

Solace today[edit]

2015:, Solace reorganized and solidified their lineup once again, most shockingly with the official replacement of reclusive and eccentric vocalist Jason by Justin Goins of The Brimstones. Solace entered the recording studio for the first time in over 5 years with this new lineup, recording a cover of Black Sabbath‘s Electric Funeral for Deadline Music’s Sweet Leaf: A Tribute to Black Sabbath. Shortly thereafter, they released a cassette single featuring this cover as well as a new original song, Bird of Ill Omen, which was described as having “characteristic intensity, volume, and unbridled rhythmic force”.[11]

2018: has seen Solace back in the studio working on their first full-length album since 2010’s A.D., tentatively titled Broken Bodies & Suffering Spirits.[12]

2019: Solace has finished the recording of the new record and has changed the title from Broken Bodies & Suffering Spirits.[12] to The Brink. They are currently waiting for studio time to finish the mixing of the record and the album will be released later this year on Blues Funeral Recordings. The Brink was released in December of 2019, featuring healthy doses of Heavy 70’s Riff Rock, NWOBHM Riffing, Drunken Sea Shanties, and plenty of Weighty DOOM.

 

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Tales of Rock: Rob Halford Reflects on Fifty Years of Judas Priest

I LOVE JUDAS PRIEST!

When Rob Halford, one of the world’s most notable voices in heavy metal says, “You and I may be seeing Wickedtogether,” you might be just a little bit confused and a little bit star struck. I had the privilege of speaking to the Judas Priest front man the day before my birthday, and he asked me what I was planning to do to celebrate. Upon answering truthfully that I was going to see a play, we began our in depth discussion talking about our adoration of the theater and Broadway shows—specifically, Wicked. I just so happen to have seen The Wizard of Oz reimagined show on Broadway, as well as having read the books it’s based off of—just as Rob has; he was desperately trying to fit seeing the touring version of show into his schedule—prior to embarking on a tour himself.

If you couldn’t already tell, Rob Halford and I had a conversation that was bursting with energy, honesty, and creativity from start to finish—similar to that of his still-going-strong musical career with Judas Priest—50 years since they formed and changed hard rock music and the metal scene as the world knew it.

You have one of the most distinct voices in rock. When did you know you sing? Or, I should ask, when did you know that you had such a range and vocal ability?

Well, I didn’t really discover all the range and all of the possibilities that the voice has given me until I started kind of playing around in the beginning with the very early bands that I worked with. You’ve probably heard names like Hiroshima and Lord Lucifer and Athens Wood, and I think a lot of musicians, before they have the chance and the good luck and good fortune to become professional—no matter what you are, singer, drummer, guitar player—you all kind of find out what your abilities are in those early experiences. That is how it was for me, really, Debra. I’m probably talking about my late teens, before I went into the twenties. Those bands that I worked with weren’t metal bands, they were more like progressive/blues/rock bands, and so we did a lot of covers, but we also tried to write our own songs, as well. That is pretty much when I discovered the voice and what potential it had. Having said that, all of the wonderful producers that I’ve worked with since becoming a professional musician, including recently with Andy [Sneap] and Tom [Allom] and Mike [Exeter]… great producers will find things about you that are in you that you don’t even know exist. That’s why even the acts that have been around for the longest time need a unique producer, because a producer will get things from you that you won’t be able to find for yourself. That’s basically it. It’s a never ending journey, to be honest.

Oh, absolutely. Now, speaking of the bands that you were in before Judas Priest, did you take anything from those bluesy, progressive groups and those experiences and implement them into your career as a metal and heavy rock musician?

Absolutely! When I was a kid we had the old black and white TV in the house we would sit around as a family—there really wasn’t much going on the TV at the same, we only had one national television broadcasting company, which was the BBC and is still there, and there was one entertainment, commercial network called iTV on the British television, of whom are still there even though they morphed—but, generally, the weekends were known for kind of just sitting around the TV like families used to, and you would watch the TV. More often than not there would be an American movie on, and it could have been anything. Talking about Wicked, it could have been The Wizard of Oz or it could have been Meet Me in St. Louis. What I’m saying is that as a kid, you really soak things up when it comes to creativity and exploring…  musicals and films and whatever it might be… all that visual stuff. My mum and dad were very much particular with their tastes, so I’m kind of quite grateful for them for my viewings, because I took it with me. I know I took it with me, because when you and I were just talking briefly about Broadway and show business in general, I was able to show that, yes, I love all of the great singers of the world of all genres; whether it’s Michael Bublé or Barbara Streisand or Michael Feinstein or John Cafferty or The Grass Roots or Barry Manilow, Elvis, Frank Sinatra. It’s all of it, you know? Whenever I talk with my friends about other singers, I always emphasize that it’s great to have a favorite rock or metal singer, but the human voice is a remarkable instrumental and you can do many, many things with it if you take off the blinkers and get out of the box and just listen to everything else that surrounds you.

Right, and being a singer doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stick to the genre that you’re used to, or you like. You can mix rock with pop, folk, blues, and more to create your own sound.

Exactly, exactly, and this is the blessing of being in a band like Judas Priest, because, say, on this recent record, the guys took me on a journey with my voice; whether it was the intense performance of the “Firepower” track or the very emotionally demanding ballad at the very end of the record called “See it Red.” I loved to be in that world of different experiences, of different voices coming through, rather than one, full on, yelling and screaming performance…. Just to hear myself doing one kind of voice? I love to mix things up and to make it interesting for the band [and] for our fans.

On the topic of your latest record, Firepower, what was it like to go back in the studio and work with Tom Allom 20 years later?

Oh, it’s beautiful! You know, Tom knows everything about Judas Priest. He’s an expert. We see Tom pretty much every time we go out into the world and the idea about Tom coming back as a producer was born out of the idea that we had to kind of focus on all of these certain elements of Priest that Tom was involved with, so putting Tom with Andy, who is from a different kind of generation of producer, it was just remarkable to watch them do what they do sitting side by side. Tom knows everything. He knows everything about my voice, he knows everything about Glenn [Tipton]’s guitar tone, [everything about] Ian [Hill]… just in general. Working with Tom is a gold mine, it’s like a treasure. You mix those opportunities up and you get something special like we saw with the production of Firepower.

That’s fantastic. I think the creative juices really flowed fiercely between the producers and the band, which I personally think paid off.

Thank you, thank you! You know, we feed off of each other in this band. If I watch Scott [Travis] going crazy on the drums and doing these amazing drum patterns and seeing his efforts and determination, then I’m going to bounce off that. I mean, that is what is important about having the love and respect of your fellow players. We all have a job to do, but the best of that job comes out of the teamwork effort and being there for each other and encouraging each other. Much like every Priest album, the end experience is born out of a lot of important team dynamics more than anything else.

That’s a stellar outlook on being in a band and making music, especially over so many years. On the topic of older music of yours, do you ever go back and listen to some of your deep cuts? With a discography as unique and immersive as yours, I can imagine that there are songs that even you rediscover once in a while.

We’ve been doing that a lot recently, Debra, because we are trying to dust off the mantle of songs that we haven’t played in a while. There are so many tracks, but we’re mentioning certain tracks like “All Guns Blazing” and “Out in the Cold.” There are all of these incredible Judas Priest songs that you tend to forget, you know? You’re always out there showing of your latest creation, as we are with Firepower, and then you have to include the songs that your fans are ravenous to hear and are absolutely entitled to hear. So, once you start putting all that together, a bulk of the show has already made itself on the set list, but by the same style, there are always 45 minutes that you can utilize for some new adventures. That is what we’ve been doing recently, so, yeah I listened to Rocka Rolla, our first album, recently and I would love to do the title track live. I’m not sure why I feel that way, but there is just something very special about the Rocka Rolla title track that still resonates with me, and I would love to hear Priest play that track now, how many decades later. There are so many things to listen to and try out that I’m sure we’ll be able to bring to life by the time we come to your parts of the world.

I hope so! If you, yourself, find some of these songs so special even now, then I can only imagine how special it would be for fans to hear.

Yeah, because, first off when you make your first hit record, you think “That’s it. I made it.” [Laughs.] And, “Everything’s going to be great now!” Well, wrong! That’s wrong because that is when the pressure starts. You’re suddenly under limitations that you didn’t have before and so many things get out under the microscope that may have never been under the microscope before. So those songs, those very early Priest songs—some of which didn’t even make it to the first record—for lots of different reasons, you listen to them now and play them to perfection just because they mean so much to you in many different ways. I think listening to the first album shows that Priest was going to be a band that was going to take us all on this great journey together in heavy metal. It’s a good album, still, especially for a first.

Absolutely! Like you said, you’ve done a lot since then, too, but you’re still doing it in the ways that you want to, which I think is important.

That’s a difficult thing to work in, too, because when you do get success and when you do start to see things come back at you, there is a tendency to lose the focus of what you’re trying to be about. What I mean by that is that if you have a very, very successful selling record, there is an intonation that we need to make another one of those. That has never been the case with Judas Priest and our label, Sony, and even all going back to Columbia and Epic, CBS… our labels have been wonderful in giving us free range. They’ve always had a lot of faith in Priest and still do. They know that we are going to deliver the goods and every one of our records have kind of stood on their own legs and shown its own character, so it’s a good thing.

Of course, you’ve been known as the Metal God for decades now, but you’ve also been a hero to thousands of people with all different backgrounds and all walks of life. Your impact on the metal community, the LGBTQ+ community, and the music industry itself is immense. Do you feel—or have you felt any sort of pressure— over the years when it comes to being such a high caliber and influential person?

Oh, thank you! I don’t think that about myself, but those were very kind, generous words and I appreciate that greatly. Thank you, Debra. Here’s the deal, though: these things come along from your own making, but I don’t think you’re aware of them right away. When you start to see the accolades in the press and the praise from your fans and this award and that award, it makes you feel good, you know? It makes you more concerning to do better, to be better. That’s the thing with us in Priest, I don’t know if it’s with our British, working-class background or whatever, but, again, you have to be able to know how to deal with that change and those feelings. You know, the world is a different place than when I grew up. The music is still the same, but the world is a different place in terms of communication. I have a fairly decent social media presence and I see what the fans say, whether it be on my Instagram or my Facebook or Priest’s own Instagram and Facebook. I read what the fans say. I am aware of how they feel. How you digest that can be kind of tricky. You have to have a thick skin in some cases and in some cases, you kind of utilize the information that you’re getting back from them and put it to good use; which goes back to how you take it and how you use it to make you a better musician and a better person for yourself and your fans.

 

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Tales of Rock – Tony Iommi

Birmingham was an industrial town in the Sixties, “much like our Detroit.” He had been welding, but grew infatuated with making music, playing guitar and accordion. When a band he was playing in wanted to tour Europe, he decided he’d take the rest of the day off from welding, but his mother sent him back to finish off the day. “They put me on a huge machine, a massive thing, and I didn’t know how to work it,” he said. “As I was pushing the metal into the machine, it came down with such a force and bang, it just chopped my fingers. There was blood going all over the place.”

A co-worker had put his fingertips in a matchbox and sent him to the hospital, but doctors told him he could never play again. “I was extremely depressed and very down,” he said. “The manager of the factory came to visit me at home…and then he told me the story about Django Reinhardt, who had lost his fingers.”

Feeling inspired, he created makeshift fingertips, invented light-gauge strings, dropped his tuning and explored a number of other ways he could play guitar. The combination led to an “aggressive, raw and fat” sound that became Black Sabbath’s signature style.

“Of course, losing my fingertips was devastating, but in hindsight it created something,” he said. “It made me invent a new sound and a different style of playing, and a different sort of music. Really, it turned out to be a good thing off a bad thing.”

Thank you Tony, for 45 years of joy!

 

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Tales of Rock – Zakk Wylde Accidentally Survived A Fatal Disease By Drinking All Of The Time

“Because you are shitfaced, all of the time.”

As a guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde isn’t a stranger to the world of wild partying, it’s fair to say. His last name is literally the word “wild” as spelled by a drunk person. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this is the only reason he got into rock music.

However, after a monthlong bout of extreme illness finally forced him to see a doctor, Wylde discovered that he was suffering from a rare blood condition that caused his body to overproduce blood clots, which are things that can suddenly kill you at any moment without warning. Furthermore, he’d been suffering from the condition for several years. Wylde sagely asked how the hell he had managed to stay alive for so long with such a deadly affliction, to which the doctor responded, “Because you are shitfaced, all of the time.”

You see, the treatment for Wylde’s condition involves a course of strong blood thinners, which slow down the rate at which blood clots develop. You know what else thins the blood? Alcohol. Zakk Wylde’s years of being heroically wasted saved his life, although nowadays he’s banned from booze and restricted to taking standard medicine, which we feel is a little unfair to the booze.

 

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Duncan – Concentrated Dosage – Part 3 – Saturday Night

Me: “What would happen if you didn’t inject your medicine every week, Duncan?”

Duncan: ” I would turn into a chair.

We walk all the way from the river back to the hotel. I loved the film. Go see it. We stop at the bar and have a couple of drinks. Duncan does his rum driven white russians, and I go with Manhattans and old fashions. Duncan says all the drinks are on his room, so all of this has fixed the missing bottle of Grey Goose he promised me. (See: Phicklephilly – The case of the Missing Bottle of Vodka)

I’ll get my hands on that sometime soon. I have a really nice bottle of rare South African rum for him that I can offer up for trade if I have to!

We decide we’re both hungry and can’t sustain ourselves on popcorn and sugar. I decide to take him over to Tavern on Broad because I have drink tickets. We get there and the vibe just isn’t working. We leave and I have an idea. We go to the place my friend Prova works, and is owned by the Uncle of my partner at the tanning salon, Achilles. (Prova – 2016 to Present – Glow of the Sun and Achilles – 2016 to Present – The Bronze God)

We head over there and it’s choice. We get a table and Prova is there and so is the owner, Achilles, uncle. It’s all good. We have a glorious dinner and the service is great. He’s drinking his usual and I’m having a Manhattan. It’s a great place and the vibe is good.

Lovely Prova comes over to the table to chat near the end and I introduce her to Duncan. He agrees she’s smoking hot and sweet and we’re having a great day. We split the check and it’s time to go see the German heavy metal band UDO at the Trocadero in Chinatown.

Time is tight and we need to grab an UBER to get there on time for the show. Duncan planned this gig eight months ago so I need to be on point for my pal. It’s his weekend and his night. I can’t fuck this up. I want him to be happy and not miss any of it. We step onto Sansom street and the car is on its way. The driver can’t get it together and ends up a block away from us. I think more taxi drivers in this city are packing it in on being taxi drivers and going for UBER and Lyft because there is more money in it and it’s the future. But they’re struggling with it.

Fuck it. We’re in the car, and I’m paying for it with my $600 in UBER credits from my previous job. Thank you ME, deadly sales guy and my previous employer.

We get to the venue and the opening act is on. They’re a tight metal band and we like them, but we immediately identify that the singer sucks and needs to go. That happens with metal heads. We want quality and can identify it instantly. Priest. Maiden. come on. You can have the hair and the moves but if you can’t sing amazing for your band… you’re out. But we’re happy to be there because UDO is coming for Duncan. He’s going to do a bunch of songs from his former band Accept and that’s why Duncan flew up here this weekend and planned this trip eight months ago.

They finish and some time passes, and UDO comes out. Now to refresh, this is a Duncan band. I have turned this clown onto some of the greatest rock and metal on the Earth and I am here now about to see a band where I only know one of their songs from the eighties.

Nothing else. Let’s see how this unfolds.

UDO hits the stage and he is a very rotund German gentleman. Duncan says he’s fatter than he remembers. He’s a sixty something, fat, bald dude that’s ready to rock. He has a Finnish and a Russian guitar player at his side. Both of these guys are deadly musicians that are hot and smile while they shred through the songs of Accept. These guys are amazing. I rock out to the unfamiliar songs like they’ve been written by AC/DC. This band is fantastic.

UDO sings like Bon Scott, the long dead lead singer from AC/DC and the band is tighter than a crab’s ass. (that’s water tight!) I love his band. The guitarists are amazing musicians and elegant showman. I can see the show is choreographed, but I love it. They are sooo good. Their personalities are coming through in the show. I love it.

Just like Aerosmith.

Just like me. What I wanted to do in music, and what I do in my everyday life. Push the energy outward into the people around you, and it will all come back to you so bright and wonderful so you can give it again.

That’s how I felt that night with Duncan.

The show was long. He played for two and a half hours! It was magnificent but I could see that Duncan was getting tired. This was his night but even he was folding. I loved this band, but at our age after the first finale, and one encore, we’re done.

They finally leave the stage and so do we. Duncan always does this thing when we go to shows. He always gets the set list and as much info on the show as possible. I’m not into presents or holidays or birthdays, but I like to be surprised by art. Men don’t like to be surprised, but we like to be delighted. But I feel like Duncan takes the mystery out of the musical acts we see, because he knows what they are going to play. I prefer to just show up at your concert, art gallery or movie and just light me up. But Duncan always knows what they are going to go play before hand. He’s always been this way. I never understood this. Part of seeing live music performed by the guys you love was about the surprise. What will these guy play next? Oh I love that. But Duncan always knows the playlist.

Duncan: What did you think of the show?

Me: That was the greatest rock show you’ve ever taken me to where I only know one song by the band. I LOVED it!

We leave the venue and are walking back to the Ritz Carlton. It’s like we’re in our thirties again. Maybe even our twenties. Duncan has rheumatoid arthritis and has to deal with that every day. He’s always been fit and been working out, and this is a disease that wants him. My mother got RA in her late forties and it was with her until her death.

Duncan has this and it kills me. My Mom had this and I watched her suffer. Here is my friend with the same health issue.

Me: “What would happen if you didn’t inject your medicine every week, Duncan?”

Duncan: ” I would turn into a chair.

We leave Chinatown and walk towards Broad street. Duncan and I cross Broad street. A famous street in Philly. A block from the foot of Billy Penn. We’ve had a glorious couple of days, and I didn’t have to have this fucker at my house for two days.

This has been wonderful and peaceful with my old friend. Drinks, food, games, movies and metal. No strippers or vice. We’re good. We don’t need that. Our connection and our history is our glue. I love Duncan.  I’m happy that we’ve reconnected and sustained our friendship.

We arrive back at the Ritz, and take a seat at the bar. Duncan closes with his signature Rum Russian, I lean into the Manhattan.

In an hour we hug and promise to hang again before memorial day. I step out onto Broad street, (Avenue of the Arts) and make my way home.

I’ve had amazing weekend with an old friend. Duncan and I are connected and there’s no breaking that bond.

 

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Sarika – Song of the Black Widow

God, she’s beautiful. I couldn’t find a stock picture on the internet to capture the delightful beauty of this girl. She is so pretty. Indian. Exotic. The type of beauty you’d almost pay for to be seen with at an event. She is probably one of the most beautiful women I know in Philly. But she recently reached out to me to come hang at a happy hour and a brand new place in Rittenhouse, called Scarpetta. Smith and Wolensky’s is gone and now that place is here. It’s in the Rittenhouse Hotel. She also mentioned that she wants me to come up to her apartment and check out her new place at the Dorchester. I am so glad I have reconnected with her. This vacuous she-devil is such a good character for this work. I am a huge fan of lovely Sarika.

I got to Scarpetta around 5:30. They’ve done a nice job with the place. It’s dark and intimate. The bar looks the same but they’ve opened up the place a bit. There’s only the one bar, but they have a lounge in the back and there is a dining room upstairs. I look around for Sarika but I don’t see her. I’m chatting with the manager and then I look out the window and see her walking towards the building.

Sarika looks amazing as always. We grab a couple of drinks at the bar and sit in this cool little area by ourselves near the window. Rittenhouse Square looks beautiful. It’s all decorated for the holidays.There are strings of bulbs in the trees and the whole park twinkle with light. She is having some sort of light pink beverage that I didn’t catch the name of, and I’m having the old-fashioned. Normally, cocktails are around fifteen dollars, but during happy hour they’re half price. So that’s something I can live with for now.

I ask her what she’s been up to and she says she’s been going on a lot of dates. Turns out that weasel she wanted to bring to my eighty dollar a plate New Years party last year has been gone for a while. I remember she was so into that guy. Apparently they were together off and on for two years. She says she wasted her best years on him and now she’s old. She’s 28! Come on Sarika, you are still but a child. She said he was a jerk to her and probably never loved her. I get her laughing, and start thinking that the black widow isn’t so bad after all. She may be smart as a whip, but she’s still a young woman navigating her way through love and life. I even joke that she probably has a blood-red hour-glass tattooed on her belly.

I do love pretty things, and she is no exception.

I tell her she looks great as always. She has been in some sunny destinations lately, so her skin is a darker brown than normal. I like it. It makes her look even more mysterious and exotic. I mention it and she immediately asks if I think it looks ugly. She always says things like that. She is so smart but so immature at the same time. She’s also a bit of a chatterbox. I think most men can’t handle that and don’t like a girl who talks too much. I don’t mind it. I like a girl who has things to say and experiences to share. I love to talk and entertain a woman, so it’s nice when I have a chatty girl so I don’t have to do all of the work. Women like a good listener and I grew up with three sisters. But what I can’t stand is what Carol used to do. Just babbling on nonstop like a tire spinning in the snow. (See: Carol 5/2014 to 8/2016 – There’s No Fun In Dysfunction)

I once read that women speak up to 20,000 words a day, compared to men, who speak only 12,000. So when we get home…We’re done!

It is puzzling how a woman this strikingly beautiful can’t keep a man. But the more you’re around her the more it makes sense. She says she’s been finding men on an app called J Swipe. It’s like Tinder for Jews. I asked her why that app? She said Jewish men normally appreciate women more, have good jobs, and have money. Sounds like she’s hunting for a husband. I think one of the challenges Sarika is facing is that she may be viewed more as a conquest. A creature to be captured and checked off of some list, because she’s so beautifully exotic.

She said she went out with a guy on Monday and even had a date with a pilot after our happy hour. So I assume I won’t be getting a tour of that gorgeous apartment in her building tonight. Sarika has a very busy life. She travels a great deal for her job as a scientist. I know she was formerly an engineer, but now I guess she’s a scientist. She makes great money and spends her other free time hopping on planes and taking little trips. It sounds like a fun life with all of the dating, and jet setting vacations, but it almost seems like she doesn’t want to be alone in her apartment. She’s crazy dating now. It’s good that she’s getting out there and meeting people after two years wasted with weasel man. But again, I can see men wanting her because she’s so beautiful, but she’s kind of annoying to talk to for any length of time. So if they get the opportunity to sleep with her they may not stick around.

Sarika is very intelligent and a nerd. I have taken her to Science after Hours at the Franklin Institute in the past. She loved it like a child. We went to see Jurassic World last summer, and Guardians of the Galaxy is her favorite movie. If my friend Duncan finds that up he’ll probably move up here from North Carolina. You would think guys would find that hot. A pretty girl who likes guy stuff and sci-fi, but it hasn’t worked. Maybe one of these many men that she is meeting for dates, will be rich and just marry her as a trophy wife. But sadly, people are funny about race in this country. They may want to sleep with a hot girl, but they may not want to bring and Indian woman back home to meet the family. I personally I have nothing against it. If you have been reading this blog, you know I love all different kinds of women. As Hank Moody says in the show Californication, “I got all your albums. I love you all and you and you included, Sarika.”

My buddy Church shows up at Scarpetta. I’m happy to see him. Once Sarika  goes on her date at One Tippling Place up the street, he and I can go to Square 1682 and have a drink. Church knows everybody in the restaurant and bar business in this town, so when he orders a drink and the server brings it over, she says, “This one is on Nathan.” He’s the GM there so Church got the hook up. I get another drink, but Sarika is only having the one so she doesn’t show up drunk for her date at 7:00.

While I was waiting at the bar to get my drink, Church chatted with Sarika. I was a little glad that it took the bartender a little time to get to me and make my drink. Normally I don’t like that, but I thought it would give Church a chance to talk to Sarika.

I get back to our little area by the window. We all chat a bit more. Sarika has to go soon, so she heads back to the ladies room. Church tells me she wouldn’t stop talking and it was driving him crazy. He’s been on edge lately, and listening to Sarika go on about something was annoying him. He said something to the effect, “I wanted to put a gun in my mouth.” He said she is so vacuous and self-absorbed and all she talked about was herself.

He once said that about another attractive girl who talked a lot. He was in a car with her and she was talking non stop and he said, “I wanted to leap right out of the car while it was going 70 miles per hour down the highway.”

Sarika returns, and I put her coat on for her. I tell her I will pay for the one drink she had. She tells me she’ll get me next time. I give her a kiss on the cheek good-bye and she’s off. I get the bill for my two old-fashioneds and her dainty drink. It should come to over $22 plus tax. I look at it and it’s only $15. So I got the hookup because I was with Church.

Dude certainly has the power.

I think next we’ll do a happy hour with my friend Carly.  So the night went well and again without incident.

So maybe my pretty little arachnid is finally growing up.

I love Sarika. She is beautiful, and I enjoy her company, if nobody else does, and I can’t wait to see her again.

(Oh… and if you’ve somehow found this and other stories Sarika, I’ll understand if you cut me off. The truth always hurts more than fiction)

 

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