Effective February 10, I am vacating my office space at 2424 E. York Street. I have been there since 2010, essentially since the building re-opened as an office space. Considering I have been treating it as a glorified mail drop for the last year, it just makes sense that I move my office home.
This is bittersweet.
The 2424 Studios Building was formerly known as Jacob Holtz (I think they moved to another spot in Philly years ago).
Before that, it was H.W. Butterworth & Sons. My grandfather worked there in his first job out of high school back in the late 30s and early 40s as a machinist. At the time, he was living somewhere on Emerald Street, up in Kensington—maybe the 3000 block? I can’t remember.
I have his certificate from the Superintendent of Philadelphia Schools and Mr Butterworth himself framed on my office wall. I am probably going to leave that on permanent loan with the building, as they have been assembling a collection of pieces on the building’s history.
This is my grandfather, top row, second from the left. He is maybe 19 in this photo? Man, 30s workwear looks badass.
Here are some other images of his colleagues/co-workers in and around the building. I have no idea who they are.
My grandfather died a few years ago, but before he did, I was able to take him on a tour of the building, where he explained to me where all the various gears and other machinery was way back when. It was neat.
I have many memories here too. It’s where I opened my solo practice in 2010, squatted in another lawyer’s office while I got started, met my law partner, divorced my law partner, and have been otherwise situated for years. I got my first tattoo there from True Hand Society (who have since also moved to an old church around the corner, which you absolutely must visit of you ever get to Fishtown), and made a lot of friends in the building. It was essential in developing my early law practice.
But times change, and I don’t need it anymore (sorry, Brian Tannebaum). Maybe one day I’ll have an office again, but for now, it’s me, at my desk at home, on my computer, with the two most useless assistants ever because 1) they don’t speak english; 2) they lack opposable thumbs; 3) they always seem to bark during important calls; and 4) they sometimes pee in the house (but really, who hasn’t?).
It’s been fun, 2424. May the next tenant of Unit 111 be as rad as I was (spoiler alert: they won’t be).
Some anonymous person has been making ridiculous comments on my posts recently. Coincidentally, some anonymous person wrote me a one star review on Google. I imagine it’s the same person and I have no idea who they are. In any case, anonymous person, as I am laying on the couch recovering from abdominal surgery right now, know that I will continue to delete your comments.
Hey anonymous person (whom I have a slight suspicion is somebody who tried to match with me on Bumble and I chose not to match with them), if you have something to say to me, you have my phone number.
[edit 1/27: This post was the pinnacle of hubris. I feel awful; luckily my nurse practitioner told me earlier today that generally recovery time for young healthy people is longer than if I were 80. That seems weird to me, but whatever. I’ll just be on my couch]
Last Tuesday, I went under the knife to repair a hernia. The recovery has not been fun, and my mobility has been extremely limited. I have two canes now, though, which is pretty cool. It’s been a humbling experience, and without my friends helping to take care of me I would have been in a real bad spot.
In any case, I went for a walk this morning and it felt great.
Warning — this post talks a lot about queerness, depression, suicidal ideation, and shitty people. (“Govern Yourself Accordingly!”, as fancy lawyers like to say to sound threatening).
If you have known me for any appreciable amount of time, you probably already knew that I was, at minimum a bit off kilter. See, e.g., this Buzzfeed article. Can you can spot me? (Hint, it’s at ¶15, and I still do not know who sent this photo to Buzzfeed).
But I did not recognize I was queer until very recently (BTW: I wish you all had told me sooner, it would have saved me a lot of consternation). This is also a difficult post for me to write, as I have tended to be very private in the past about my personal life. However, as I have committed to the Qowat Milat philosophy of “Absolute Candor” in 2021, it is time I get this off my chest.
Recognizing my queerness was a hard thing for me to come to terms with over the past few months. 2020 was a hell of a year. I spent much of it suffering from suicidal depression. I was so completely depressed that I was not even able to write Depressive Suicidal Black Metal (yes, this is a real subgenre, check out Leviathan and Xasthur. Sidebar: one of my local metal buddies is Leviathan’s lawyer. What a weird, small world). You know you are in the shit when you cannot even find the creative passion to write music for a subgenre that is all about being depressed and killing yourself, in a genre that is all about killing each other and burning churches, and playing guitars in the snow. (I will probably write a post about my suicidally depressive 2020 later, but that is another story for another time. Short version: the only reason I am still here today, writing this post, is that I am simply to polite to leave my corpse for another person to deal with. Also, do you KNOW how difficult IOLTA accounting is? I couldn’t possibly foist that burden on another person).
That said, I found myself living on my own in October of 2020. I have not lived by myself since I was 21 (ish? My memory is starting to go at 36 so this is my best guess). I got my own apartment. It was weird, this monastic life without other people around me. I was alone with my thoughts. That is a scary place to be, let me assure you.
But in being alone, I was able to take the time to work on myself. I had the time and space to realize who, and what I was. I’d started therapy about a month prior (highly recommend—everyone should be in therapy), which also helped me along the journey. I was able to be weird again. I say again, as I allowed a prior partner to crush my creative spirit, for purposes of keeping up appearances of being A SERIOUS LAWYER™.
I only came to this realization these last several or so. It was enlightening and horrifying.
Irrespective, in that time of monastic contemplation, I started to stop lying to myself. When Harry Styles appeared on the cover of Vogue, it reminded me of a time when I was child, at a water park, afraid to get into a water slide. I then saw a younger kid fly down it, care free, and realized I had nothing to be scared of. Regardless what you might think of Harry Styles or his music, I owe him a debt of gratitude.
My partner has always been supportive of me in all things. They were supportive of me in this journey before I even knew I was on this journey.
But this was scary.
I grew up in a household where my parents threw the word “faggot” around. My dad had a gay cousin, but he was one of the “good” ones. I remember my father talking about how he made fun of his cousin when he shaved off his pubic hair as a teenager.
My father also asked me if I was a “faggot” when he discovered I shaved my armpits at 16. I still do. Easier to deal with.
Needless to say, this is difficult for me to discuss.
Last June, a group of us had all been at a drag show in West Philly for a gay friend’s birthday. We all had a “few” drinks. Things were supposed to be winding up with my divorce.
That night, D R U N K E N L Y, I hit on my ex’s male classmate of my from law school. This person presented as queer, but I was wrong. My b. Problem was, I had forgotten that this person was a MY EX’s CLASSMATE. I do not remember much of this conversation, as we had had a few (I am not perfect). THIS WAS BAD NEWS BEARS.
So around 11.30pm on June 4, I get a text out of the blue, calling me a “fucking faggot” and a “dirty disgusting human”, and accusing me of gaslighting her for years. I did not sleep well that night. There is much more to this story, but that is private business not suitable for the internet, and I do not wish to air any more dirty laundry than is necessary to make my point, or to harm my ex’s future law job prospects.
Whatever. I am too nice sometimes.
My internal struggles with that aside, I *think* (until relatively recently, at least) I am a cis-het presenting white dude.
If you look at my Instagram history you will see what I mean. I try to look like a Brooks Brothers’ catalog from the 60s. I have all of the privilege. I can go anywhere and be invisible. I have not faced adversity in my life due to how I look or act. So I was also afraid of intruding into a space that might not be meant for me, or which was inhabited by people weirder and braver than I.
This was dumb. I have largely been welcomed with open arms.
And then in the last year, I saw as friends and colleagues of mine (of similar vintages, or perhaps even with a few years on me) were brave enough to openly announce their own queerness, whether that be ENBY/trans/gay/pan whatever.
And just like that kid on the water slide, that gave me the strength. I was afraid of losing face, or clients if I did too—but I realized I am good at my job, and that if a client fires me over this, I probably didn’t want them as a client anyway.
So, TL;DR. Hi, I am Leo. I am queer (he/him/they whatever I am pansexual). I’m the same Leo as ever before, I just know myself better now.
“Greetings, Prophet; The Great Work begins: The Messenger has arrived.” —Angels in America Pt 1: Millennium Approaches
The world is a scary place right now, so I decided to entertain myself. Remember this chucklehead? It has been three weeks since I sent that email. They have not responded. Maybe it’s because they are on vacation due to the holidays. I got an autoresponder saying they are out of the office until January 11. Good, everyone deserves some time off, even chuckhead lawyers.
But as I had not heard anything, and I have repeatedly asked for documents from them, I followed up today.
I hope you have at least a quarter of the fun reading this as I did writing it. Their office got CCd so they understand how I do.
And, opposing counsel, if you’re reading this: “Hi! I hope you enjoy your vacation and that it is someplace warm and delightful and full of tasty adult beverages. It is cold and miserable here in Philadelphia and the world is on fire“.
Greetings Mr [Tough Guy, Esq.], and Happy New Year.
I have not yet received the notice under the [redacted law] that your client is required to provide to my client regarding [redacted facts]. In fact, despite my requests, you have not indicated whether it even exists. If you do not respond to me indicating one way or another by the end of this week, I will take that as an admission that it does not exist. I understand that I am not a judge and do not get to set your responsive deadlines for court matters—however, as this is not a court deadline, I may draw conclusions from your behavior. Consider this an informal RFA. Without hearing from you, I will deem as admitted that you do not have it.
Regarding your curious venture into Common Pleas Court, I understand that you may have perfected service on my client’s mailing address recently via certified mail. Please confirm this is the case, and I will enter my appearance. Note that [client redacted] is not at this address currently, but I did receive word from his parents that they received a certified letter (Footnote: Your complaint also does not include a copy of the required notice. See, id. I was on Law Review. It taught me all of these neat citation tricks).
Hey, did you know I am a dungeon master? As I see it, you’re trying to play this game as a Human Barbarian (I am not sure of your alignment yet, but I would guess lawful evil, at this point, based on your behavior).
This is silly, and your “my clients are aggressive look at me I am so tough hahaha surprise lawsuit after you extended me a courtesy and did not require my appearance at an afternoon hearing on 12/23” tactic will not work on me.
In creating your character, you ought to have considered putting more of your stat points into Wisdom and Intelligence, rather than Strength.
When I litigate, I take on the spirit of a lawful evil Tiefling Warlock, and my patron is Óðinn (I told you a bit about him before), the chief god of the Norse, associated with wisdom, healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, war, battle, victory, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet. I think you understand my point. I was a fat theater/orchestra/academic team nerd as a kid, and was picked on mercilessly, and I have a lot of unresolved nerd rage for attorneys who act like you. I also work for myself and can dedicate endless hours to this case, if I feel like it. That’s the beauty of self-employment.
If you are more into Harry Potter than D&D, I’d say you’re a tough guy Hufflepuff. I am Slytheryn. My wand is elm, with a unicorn hair core, and unyielding flexibility, My patronus is a Thestral. I am not joking. Take this for what it is worth to you.
In closing, you could have been nice, courteous, and professional to me, and I would have extended the same courtesies. Instead, you chose to be a jerk. Cool. Well, as the unofficial Philadelphia motto goes, “fuck around and find out”. You fucked around. (I am very professional).
I think this AR lower was some right-wing lummox’s idea of a “joke”. Well, joke is on them, because as soon as it’s back in stock I am going to have a lower with a FUCKING 🦄🦄🦄UNICORN🦄🦄🦄 ON IT. (libturds have guns too, ding dongs).
[edit: Upon further review, and realizing how awful this company is, I am actually not going to buy this. Instead, I’m going to have a friend engrave one for me].
As Heavy Devy says, crying is metal. Devy has a good sense of humor. So did Alexi:
I told you so.
I was introduced to COB by a friend when I was maybe 18. We both worked at the Starbucks in Doylestown. I had an unrequited crush on this friend (hi Ellen hope you’re doing well).
They were one of the first groups that I listened to that was in the arena of death metal. They opened me up to the world of death metal with their quick tempo, shredding, and catchy hooks. Some metal dorks shit on them because they have keyboards and are melodic. I hate metal dorks like that.
This band was very important to my journey in becoming “Black Metal Lawyer” and wanting to learn to shred. I still cannot shred nealy 20 years later but I am trying. 2021 goals?
I have not listened to COB in a long time. I am now.
That is why I am crying as I type this.
I only saw them live them once, in 2016. They played at the Electric Factory opening for Megadeth. Suicidal Tendencies also opened. I dragged my partner with me. She is a punk rock chick more than a metalhead, but she is a good sport. (Funny story: she almost got kicked out of that show. “Wait, Leo, how does one almost get kicked out of a death/thrash show?”, you may ask. Remind me to tell you at the next show you see me, once live music resumes again).
Their sound that night was absolutely atrocious, which is common at that venue.
You spend countless hours poring over hundreds of pages of materials, memorizing important details: names, locations, events, prior statements (of course you have read F. Lee Bailey).
You carefully craft an outline of the story you wish to tell, filling in details as you go along, based on the materials in your possession.
You find that you are talking to yourself, rehearsing what it is you want to say and how it is you wish to most effectively communicate your themes so your audience does not get bored.
And then, even with all your hard work, just before it’s time to start, your palms start to sweat—but you know that you cannot project anything other than confidence in order to do your job right. So you take a deep breath, namaste that shit, push the fear out of your mind [fear is the mind killer] and steel your resolve to do your job the right way.
Then despite all of your preparation, memorization, and confidence that you know how things are going to work out, someone whips out their goblin cock.
I am talking, of course, about Dungeons & Dragons. Did you think I was talking about trial? PSSSSSSSSHhhhhhhhh you better improve your Wisdom stats, my dude.
Despite being a full-on nerd for 36 years running, I did not play Dungeons & Dragons growing up. I was the kind of nerd that thought Star Trek and Battletech and musical theatre and Magic the Gathering were all cool, but Dungeons & Dragons was a bridge too far. I guess I was some sort of nerd elitist? This was dumb. D&D is super rad. I am no longer a nerd elitist.
I started wanting to play D&D after listening to the popular podcast HARMONTOWN (this was a weekly show with Community/Rick & Morty creator Dan Harmon and his friends. It was funny, and I am sad Dan decided to end it last year because every episode felt like a fun hang with my friends).
Early in the show’s run, Dan (while somewhat inebriated, I assume), sua sponte asked whether anyone in the audience had a set of dice because he wanted to play D&D. A man in the audience raised his hand, and they began playing D&D. That man is Spencer Crittenden, and he is far cooler and more chill than I can ever hope to be. (They have an animated TV show now called “HarmonQuest“, where they play D&D. It is on VRV and you should watch it).
Listening to these weekly-ish games on the podcast, I came to realize that I was VERY WRONG about D&D. D&D is not for nerds, D&D is for rad people who like to use their imaginations and tell stories and improvise and hand with their friends and maybe get a little too drunk as they go on adventures to try recover the hoard of the dragon queen (Wow, young nerd me was a total elitist dick). It was A W E S O M E and much fun.
To do their job right, a DM must know their shit cold. While a DM is allowed to look up rules, stat blocks for creatures, maps, etc., your players get bored when you do this. It kills the vibe and flow of the story your are trying to tell. It’s better if you KNOW YOUR SOURCE MATERIAL so you can keep things moving. And even if you know all of your shit C O L D, inevitably your players will pull some WILD SHIT THAT NO ONE COULD HAVE PLANNED FOR AND GOD DAMMIT YOUR HOURS OF PLANNING WERE JUST DEFENESTRATED FUCK FUCK SHIT FUCK TIME TO MAKE SOME SHIT UP I GUESS OH DAMMIT I HOPE THEY CAN’T TELL I AM TOTALLY MAKING ALL OF THIS UP ON THE FLY I’M GONNA ROLL WITH IT FUCK FUCK FUCKKKKKKKKK.
If you have ever tried a case, this probably sounds familiar to you.
I only started DMing about two years ago, after several years of trying to make someone else do it. When no one else wanted the commitment, I assumed the mantle. While I often regret assuming this responsibility (as it is a lot of work, and I am a solo practitioner who usually works 12-14 hours a day), it is totally worth it when your players say to you “Man, Leo, that was a great fucking session. I had a lot of fun”.
If you have ever won a case that you tried, you know this feeing. It is a rad feeling.
I’d like to think that being a DM has made me a better trial lawyer, but I think the truth of the matter is that being a trial lawyer has made me a better DM.
In closing, I present to you a delightful ditty from Jeffrey Bryan Davis, who has joined in our Curse of Strahd campaign. You might know Jeff from Whose Line is it Anyway? [Note that while I want Jeff to be my friend and play in my game just because I am the greatest person alive, this is not the case. I pay Jeff money to play in our game—he is a live performer and has a Patreon. I do not regret paying Jeff money to play in our game because 1) I think Jeff actually enjoys it; 2) He is great; 3) Maybe if I pay Jeff money long enough he actually will like me enough to be my friend without me paying him. This last part is doubtful but a man can dream].
Ladies, gentlemen, and folx of all/any genders, I present to you, Pringles Dick (a song Jeff wrote while on tour with the Whose Line? guys):
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