“Michael Alan.” No way I was giving her my last name.
Suddenly she looked up, and she shouted something — a name, maybe, I couldn’t tell — and started gesturing as if she was waving someone over to the car. I looked over my shoulder and saw a couple people in the vacant lot across the street moving in my direction. I started up the car and slowly put it in drive, thinking, OK, if I just floor it with her standing there, I might run her over and kill her. If I stay, I’m fucked.
“You got a card?” she said.
I did, but I didn’t want to give it to her after not giving her my full name. Didn’t wanna agitate her any further.
“No,” I lied. I grabbed a piece of paper off the front seat and scribbled my name and a fake phone number as fast as I could, as her companions approached. “Give that to your uncle or whoever and tell him to call me and I’ll sort it out.”
She snatched the paper out of my hand and stepped back from the car to look at it. I hit the gas and lurched forward, nearly hitting the car parked in front of me, and I grabbed the car door and slammed it shut. I sped down Federal Street, and I’m pretty sure I blew a red light. Maybe two.
There were a dozen more dive bars to photograph, but I got McManus to come along with me to shoot the rest. If I was gonna die, it wasn’t gonna be alone.
In the (according to friends, family and colleagues who’ve received advanced copies) excellent, informative and drop-dead hysterical Philadelphia’s Best Dive Bars: Drinking and Diving in the City of Brotherly Love, I ventured into every corner of our city and cozied up to more than 100 of the finest dives in search of a definitive answer to the question: What makes a dive bar a dive?