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Thursday
February 14, 2019

i found some stale cigarettes in overcoat pocket left over from a wild night with andy singer in december. i needed a light and figured i could bum some matches at a bar and the Locust looked promising, the kind of place bukowski might have frequented when he lived here in the 1940’s and the inside looked and smelled as if it hadn’t been upgraded since. i ordered a yuengling, the local swill, and asked for matches. the 'tender gave me a plain white book with six left in it. good enough. i’d step outside for a smoke after a few more sips, meantime i looked around, asking myself what are the signs of a good dive bar? the yellowed drop ceiling, for sure, and… ashtrays? they were empty but looked used. i surmised they were props to give the joint atmosphere, or maybe a protest of sorts? “can i… smoke in here?” the bartender gave me a look, like maybe i was simple. “of course!” turns out philly has a few dozen smoking bars, exceptions to the general rule, and i just happened to stumble into one. i texted excitedly to my smoker friends back in Seattle. i could have stayed longer but wanted to wander, so i set out again with nowhere to go and all day to get there, a sensation i haven’t felt in a city since forever. i turned off my phone so i wouldn't get distracted or peek at a map, soaked up the sights, meandered intuitively, and down by the river randomly stepped into another smokin' old school establishment...
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