James – Southgate

Phicklephilly is back and going out on the town again! I’m so happy to have some new things to write about!

We’ve been locked up for over four months. Covid and being quarantined has taken a toll on all of us. When this is over things will definitely be different. The way we work, socialize, and connect with each other.

Some of the restrictions have been lifted in our city. Food delivery’s been huge. But we can all agree we miss going out and having a drink and a bite with a friend. James and I usually try to get together at least once every other month when times are good, but that’s been impossible for the past four months.

I’ve enjoyed facetime and zoom calls during this challenging time. But it’s just not the same as real human interaction. I think one thing that this quarantine has taught us is that you find out who your real friends are. I was initially a little butt hurt when I didn’t hear from people I thought were my friends. I spoke with a close friend about this and explained to her my plight several months ago. She said, “Those people weren’t really your friends. They were simply your happy hour buddies.” She was right and that gave me clarity in regard to who I’d be spending my precious time with in the future. Those people were my ‘friends’ when I was taking them to big events where they could get dressed up and be seen. Surrounded by beautiful people, free drinks and free food. I really liked these people and thought we were friends, when in reality they just attached themselves to me like sea lampreys and basked in my light.

The lights went out back in March and I haven’t heard from any of them. Not even a “How you holding up?,” text. Nothing. When I thought back to my relationship with these so called friends, we never really hung out and did things that friends do together. I was just a free drink, fun event, and meal ticket for these folks. I know people who have worked in the hospitality industry and they agree. These people were their friends as long as they were being invited to cool events and pounding free drinks. Anyway, lesson learned and I won’t be hanging out with any of these vacuous, self-absorbed fools anymore. But I digress…

James and I have been friends for I think around seven years. I could check previous posts about this man, but I think we met for the first time back in 2013. I was with Michelle at a fashion event that he was running at the Armory here in Philly.

Found his first post:

James – Modeling Agency Mogul

You can begin Michelle’s 24 part series here:

Michelle – Chapter 1 – A Brand New Day

James and I have always loved movies. Great films as well as horrible turkeys. We just love all things movies. I consider him one of my best friends here in Philly and he’s joined the ranks of my enduring friends. He’s a cool, smart guy who runs his own talent agency.

So after four months in quarantine, we decided to throw down the gauntlet and meet up for one of our now famous, ‘Hollywood Happy Hours.’ Scheduling seems harder than ever with everything that’s going on, compounded by the restrictions put upon us by this pandemic.

I’m happy that things are happening again. I used to always have stories from my life and series going about all of the fun people in my life. (Especially all of my crazy dates!) I’ve found without being able to go out and make new stories, I turned inward and have been publishing stories from my past. I hope people enjoy them and I’d like to publish a book about them maybe next year. But things are opening up now, and I’m starting to get out again. I’m ready to return phicklephilly to its former glory as a place with fun new content from my present life.

James and I were set to meet on a Wednesday, but something happened with one of his cats and he had to rush him to the vet. $1000 later, and the cat is fine. We bumped our meeting until Thursday, but his girlfriend got rear ended in her car out in Manayunk and that caused a wrinkle in her bumper and our plans. But she insisted he still get together with me. (Thank you, Amy! Glad you’re okay.) After making sure she got home safe, he hopped in a Lyft and headed down to see me.

We met at a place about a block and a half from my house. It’s a Korean barbecue bar/restaurant, called Southgate.

https://www.southgatephilly.com/

It used to be a neighborhood dive called Tangiers. It was a beloved spot for the people of the Graduate Hospital neighborhood to hang. Cold beer, good burgers, wings and board games. You could always run into someone you knew there. But like many places here in center city… out with old and in with the new. I’d never been to Southgate because I was locked into going to my spots uptown like Square 1682 and Harp and Crown. Places where I knew the staff and got the hookup.

I love when James comes down here to Rittenhouse. I always feel like I should make more effort to go hang with him in his neck of the woods, but he says he likes to come down to center city. A place filled with cool stuff to do, and places to go, and beautiful people. I can’t understand the attraction!

Because of the pandemic, you can’t sit inside of any restaurant, but if they have outdoor seating they’re open for business. So I grab a table for two and my buddy arrives. It’s great to see him in the flesh! There he is! He lives! Within in minutes we’re settled and sipping refreshing cocktails. It was a nice evening and a welcome repose from the heatwave we’ve been in for the last month. We caught up on all things about life, his agency, phicklephilly, family, and published books. Did I mention movies? There was much discussion about all things film, past and present.

Our night started around 7pm and there’s some rule now where if you’re going to take a table you have to order food as well as drinks. I suppose the space is so limited they make their money from the food and they don’t want people taking up tables just to get hammered. I got the fried chicken; soy and spicy, and he ordered bao buns and the bibimbap. I’d never heard of either of them, but he seemed to like it. The food and drinks were delish and the staff was on point. We even had the honor of meeting the owner. A charming gentleman who came out to chat with us.

It got to be around 10pm, and Southgate was closing for the night. (Time always flies when we’re hanging out together because it’s always a lively event) We paid our checks and tipped mightily. (They need it!) We decided to head two blocks west on Lombard to another local spot called Lou Bird’s.

https://www.loubirds.net/

I’ve only been to Lou’s one time before. It was New Years Day about three years ago. I was with my friend Mary. You can check that out here:

Mary – Chapter 2 – New Years Day Brunch – Part One

Mary – Chapter 3 – New Years Day Brunch – Part Two

Since the troubles hit our fair city two months ago… race riots, protests, fires, looting and general despicable behavior by a few bad actors, I just haven’t had any desire to travel uptown to hang out. I’m tired of dealing with the homeless element, and just couldn’t look upon the destruction and sadness that has befallen our fair city. So I’ve been trying some of these places near my house with great success.

I had stopped at Lou Bird’s for the first time in so many years after I finished the final draft of Angel with a Broken Wing. This was back in mid June. I decided to celebrate by taking myself out for a cocktail made by someone other than myself. I sat at a little table by myself and lovely Sarah the server took very good care of me. I vowed after that day, that Lou Bird’s could become my new ‘spot.’

So we get there, and it’s dark but there are plenty of seats. They stayed open until 11pm so we had some more time. We found a table in the street, because they’ve roped off a section on 20th street to have more seating space. (genius!) I got a Manhattan and James had a beer. Sarah was there and she looked after our needs. I’m sure she’s even prettier without that mask! But within an hour, they started picking up the tables and it was time to go. James and I were left standing on the corner wondering what to do.

“I don’t feel like going home yet.”

“I don’t think anything else is still open now, James.”

“Can we go to your place and drink?”

“Boom.”

So we get back to the batcave and I grab some beverages. We decide of a couple of spiked seltzers, Bon & Viv make some great ones.

https://www.bonvivspikedseltzer.com/

We both do a shot of bourbon and sip our drinks. Our conversation once again turns to movies. I tell him how many bands and comedians are doing shows at old Drive In movie theaters. There are a few left still standing after so many years since the advent of home video in the eighties. Which leads me into tales of some of my adventures at the drive in movie theater that we used to go to 35 years ago in Rio Grande, New Jersey. It was amazing, and I have many memorable stories from that wonderful place. I had recently watched a terrific documentary about a drive in movie theater that’s still alive and well in Lehighton, PA. It’s about 75 miles northwest of Philly. You can find it on Amazon Prime, It’s called, ‘At the the Drive In.’

https://www.mahoningdit.com/

Since we both love film and the movie experience, James tells me he’s never been to a drive in and that we should go.

“We should go to one for your birthday.”

“I don’t know if there are any left around here. The one on in the documentary is really far away.”

“We’ll figure it out. I want to do this, Chaz.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

We wrap up the night, and I assumed it would be forgotten. I knew it’s something we both wanted to experience, but I was okay if it didn’t happen for my birthday. I never make a big deal about my birthday anymore. I just feel like I survived another trip around the sun and I’m grateful I still get to be in the world for another year!

He gets into his Lyft and another great night is on the books with my dear friend James. Things are opening up, so at least I’m getting out of the house and spending time with people I care about. I’m very fortunate to have them in my life. I love my alone time to create and reflect, but I get my energy from being around people.

We’ll see what happens…

 

 

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https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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