Over here at WGTB, we get pretty excited about new columns, especially in the summertime. And this one is gonna be good. Below, the first installment of DJ Emily Simpson's “Did the Intern Show Up?”: A Diary of Long Nights & Even Longer E-mail Threads From a Philadelphia Music Club.
Hello! Welcome to my new column, a venture that could just as easily be titled “What I Did During My Summer Vacation” and exists more or less for the purpose of my telling absurd stories about the people and problems I deal with on a daily basis. Since June 1, I have held the not-exactly-coveted title of intern for Kung Fu Necktie, which is hands-down the most unique bar-slash-music-venue I have ever seen. Located in Fishtown, a neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia, it holds about 120 people at full capacity – think along the lines of DC9 or the backstage at The Black Cat.
I’m sure you’re wondering why they would even need an intern. Sucks to be you then, because I don’t have the answer to that particular question, even after the thousandth time I’ve been asked. What I can tell you (briefly) is what I actually do. I am officially or unofficially in charge of: updating the website/calendar, maintaining the Facebook and Twitter pages, keeping track of the sound techs, working as “band liaison” (aka telling them how to get their drinks at the bar), printing will-call ticket lists, losing at pool, checking IDs, working the door, helping out the bartenders, moving amps, filling out paperwork to settle with bands after shows, and texting my boss reminders about absolutely everything. There’s more, never fear. The duties of the intern – or the slave, as some of the patrons have taken to calling me – are endless and varied.
Doesn’t my job sound fun? Don’t you want to move to Philadelphia immediately and have a cage match or drinking contest to decide who gets to keep it? No? That’s okay. I actually kind of adore it. A lot of that has to do with the people, who I swear on a huge stack of vinyl I am not making up or exaggerating at all. Here’s a brief introduction, so in the future you can pretend to have a vague idea of what I’m talking about. Or not. It’s completely up to you.
First up, we have Chicken, who actually owns the bar. His real name might be Jim, but to be perfectly honest I’m not entirely sure. Chicken is in his forties, does carpentry in his spare time, and frequently wears shirts that proudly display phrases like “Pimpalicious” across the chest. He only remembers people he thinks he might like in the future and greets everyone by saying “Hey HEY hey.” He really exists.
Then there’s Steven, whom I suppose you could call my boss. Picture Justin Vernon, but scrawnier and with a more scraggly ginger beard, then add skate shoes and a ridiculous fondness for old disco music. Bam! Instant Steven. He’s on the younger end of the spectrum at only twenty-five, which shows most especially in his absolute inability to remember anything. One day, I will show up at the bar and he will already be there with the door unlocked, and it will be magical. I have yet to see that day.
Also featuring prominently is this dude named Jamie, who happens to be thirty-three but acts ten years younger (although I’ve been told he’s mellowed out in his old age). One of his tattoo sleeves incorporates the Rice Krispy characters, cartoon vegetables, and a Dr. Pepper bottle. He plays in a hardcore band called Gods and Queens, has been on tour in Europe twenty-three times, and collects Catholic images because he finds them creepy. Jamie and I bonded the moment we decided it would be funny to text Steven when he was out of town and tell him that I was throwing myself at one of the bands. Steven has since regretted our ever meeting.
The sound guys I’ll do all at once, even though they could each easily warrant their own paragraph. Matt, this adorably tiny drummer who plays in a band called Arc in Round, seems to be at the bar most frequently. He lets me hang out in the sound booth with him during shows and we snark about the bands and various patrons that come through. Tom is also awesome, this big teddy bear of a guy who has a killer sense of humor and tells the best stories about everyone. Tim I don’t know quite as well, but he has awesome poofy curly hair and glasses like Frank from 30 Rock. He seems relatively unimpressed by almost everything. Finally, there’s Steve P, whose first show at the bar was on Tuesday. He’s currently trying to teach his three year-old daughter how to thumb wrestle.
There are far too many bartenders to list, but for some quick highlights I’ll mention: Bill, the quasi-father figure with dreads down to his waist; Bob, who is awesome even though he always leaves me to listen to the regulars ramble on once they’re drunk; Jared, who puts up with me trying to fist bump him all the time; and Scott, somehow managing to fit in despite his constantly backwards Phillies cap.
I could go on (and on and on and on and on) for about thirty or forty more people, but you would probably stop reading, and I wouldn’t even be able to blame you. Stay tuned, though, and in the future you might hear about the Joe-trifecta (Hardcore Joe, Drug Dealer Joe, and Puerto Rican Joe) or Wes and his independent contractor bodyguards. Or the DJs. The DJs might have to get their own post one of these days, because there are a ton of them, and they are all ridiculous human beings in addition to being incredibly awesome.
Anyway, I’m going to promise you here and now that every word written in this column will be the honest-to-God truth. It will seem outrageous, it will seem impossible, but it will all have happened exactly the way I describe it. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll write me letters asking why the hell I’m still doing this or if I’m going to need bail money in the future (the answer very well might be yes). Maybe someday my parents will read this and severely reevaluate their decision to let me go anywhere beyond a mile from my house. I can only hope.
Until next time,
The Intern (also occasionally called by her real name, Emily Simpson)