Floating Hope

Philadelphia, PA – Summer 2021

One of my followers reached out to me on my blog. She stated that she was coming up to Philly from Florida for a baby shower. I’m always happy to hear from my readers and was glad to hear the news. She asked if while she was up here if we could meet. Of course, I agreed.

It was on a Saturday, and happily I was free from any obligations. I arranged a reservation at Devil’s Alley for food and drinks. I’ve never met this person so I asked if there were any dietary issues, and she said no. I figured the place wouldn’t be busy. Unlike spots like Parc in Rittenhouse which are nice, but expensive and usually packed.

Saturday arrived and I headed up to Devil’s Alley around 11:45. I got there and informed the hostess of what was going on. She liked the story and told me that she’d get me a table upstairs. While I was chatting with her, my friend appeared! She had sent me a photo before she traveled here so I knew what she looked like.

We headed upstairs and took our seats. We ordered cocktails and started chatting. It was immediately a lively conversation. We had some things in common. Both divorced with grown kids. We talked about some of our past relationships and dating in general.

It was great to sit and chat with a fellow writer who is from the same generation as I am. It seems that she was married for many years and then after her divorced, she jumped into a relationship that lasted four years. She said that at one point she had outgrown the relationship and moved on.

She’s been dating and seems to be very active in the dating arena. She still uses Bumble and maybe one other app. I remember when I first started writing this blog I was on all the apps! Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Coffee Meets Bagel and others. (I may have even tried Hinge near the end) I’m no longer on any of them and really don’t see the need at this point. If I meet anybody now it’ll just happen organically in my everyday life.

But my friend is on the dating apps and she’s doing well. I was impressed with her confidence and how successful she’s been in her career and her dating life. It’s good to see a woman who’s a bit younger than me that’s out there having fun and meeting new people and potential mates.

We had Devil’s famous dry rub wings and I think she enjoyed them. It was just a light snack and drinks on this visit. (To be honest, they weren’t as impressive as they usually are)

I didn’t know how much time she had to spend with me, but I had planned if she could have hung out longer, I probably would have taken her to the bar at the top of the Comcast 2 center at the Four Seasons. It’s an incredible view of the city and thought she might like that.

But her time was limited and she had other commitments for the afternoon. I was happy that she took the time to hang out with me. It was a real pleasure to meet one of my subscribers in person for the very first time. So to me, it was a landmark event even if it was just a few hours.

After our meeting, we walked down Pine street near my house. I told her I needed to run inside for a moment. When I reappeared a few minutes later I presented her with a copy of my latest book, Below the Wheel. (I hope she likes it, but it’s okay if she doesn’t!)

I walked her back to her hotel over by City Hall and said goodbye. It was a lovely afternoon with a new friend. We agreed that if she comes up again we’ll hang out again.

I’m looking forward to that!

We did a selfie, and both agreed to write about the encounter in our perspective blogs. I’ll be interested to read what her take on the day was.

You can find her blog here: https://findingmynextchapter.wordpress.com/

We both decided to write about our experience, and both publish our stories on the same day! Thank, Birdie!

Here’s hers: findingmynextchapter.wordpress.com/2022/05/17/meeting-another-blogger

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Tales of Rock: Who’s Libretto?

Philadelphia, PA – 1968

My uncle Jack used to work for Columbia Records back in the 60s. He was a well-known producer and had lots of connections in the music industry. When I lived in Los Angeles in the early 80s he was out there on business and called me to meet up with him for lunch.

I was happy to meet up with him. It would be nice to not only see a member of my family because it was my first time far away from home. But also because he was my favorite uncle. He was a brilliant guy with a lightning-fast wit. He was an easy-going dude that everybody liked.

I drove out to Century City in my 1969 VW minibus to meet him for lunch. We were joined by the former president of Columbia Records who was a buddy of my uncle’s. I remember it was cool to hang out with these guys and listen to their stories of the glory days of popular music in the 60s.

During his time in the business, my uncle met many musicians and celebrities like Andy Williams, and Barbra Streisand.

One story that stand out in my mind is when his buddy told a story about how the Jefferson Airplane had recorded a demo for Columbia and they didn’t like it and turned it down flat for a record deal. He said one of the guys in the band urinated into the planter in the corner of his office upon hearing the news. He said they later signed with RCA Victor and got an unheard of $25k advance to get on board with them. (which was a fortune in 1965)  “They were a bunch of crazy people.” he said about the band.

Anyway, I always loved my uncle and still miss his wry wit to this day. But back to the story at hand.

Because my uncle was in the industry he would be given lots of vinyl demo albums to check out and review. Anything that was popular or mainstream he could relate to, but when he was given anything relating to classical music or opera, he would give them to his brother.

Which was my father. My dad loved classical music and opera and it was probably his favorite kind of music. Since my uncle was clueless to that kind of music he’d pass them to my dad to give him the lowdown on each orchestra and album.

This went on for many years and my dad got loads of free music to add to his collection. As a kid, I always wondered why on many of his record albums there was always a red stamp on the back. It read: “Not for Sale. This album is for demonstration purposes only.” Those were the ones my uncle gave him. If for some reason there was some unknown rock band in one of the many albums he gave him, my dad would pass it to me. Even as far forward as the late 70s. I remember my dad handing me the soundtrack to the animated film, Heavy Metal based on the comic magazine. It’s where I first heard the song, Mob Rules by Black Sabbath. There was even a record that consisted of a collection of songs by different artists, and one of them was a really old recording from the German metal band Scorpions (Whom I loved) it was a song called “Am I Going Mad?” from the album Lonesome Crow, which I didn’t even know existed back then.

Anyway, back in 1968, my uncle was chatting with my dad about music, and an interesting question came up. He said he had a buddy over at Decca Records that was working with a somewhat popular band from the UK. The group had been generating some buzz as an up-and-coming mod/rock band. They were trying to find their voice and identity and had released a few small hits.

Back in the 50s and early 60s, bands and singers only released singles. Short songs that were never longer than 3 minutes long. If that artist had generated enough popular songs in a period of time, the label l would put the songs out as a collection on an LP.

But the Beatles changed all that when they started to release albums of all-new material. No longer would albums be collections of hits but bonafide creative works of music.

But the main guy in the band over at Decca was a brilliant songwriter and wanted to take his band’s music to the next level. He came up with a unique concept. He ran the idea and played a few songs for his producer. It was a groundbreaking idea for an album that hadn’t ever been done before.

The producer over at Decca ran the idea by my uncle to get his thoughts on the subject. He of course spoke to his brother, (my dad) about it. My father listened intently to the idea and gave him this response:

“Do they have a libretto?”

“A what?”

A libretto. Every opera has a libretto. It’s the text and the substantive ideas that inspire the composition, including the dramatic structure, characters and scenario of the opera.

“Okay…”

“Well, tell your friend that if this band is going to do some kind of opera, they’ll need a libretto so when people buy the record they can read along and know what’s going on with the story of the songs even if it’s in a different language.”

So my uncle goes back and tells all of this to his buddy over at Decca, and he tells the guy in the band who’s writing the album. He loves the idea and they decide to include a libretto with the new album. My uncle tells my dad and he’s happy he was able to help out based on his expertise with classical music and opera.

“By the way, Jack, what’s the opera about?”

“It’s about a deaf, mute, and blind boy who is abused as a child and becomes an incredible player at the game of pinball.”

“Okay, well that seems a little weird, but I hope they have success with that. Glad I could help.”

My dad obviously got a free demo copy of the album before it came out and turned me on to this incredible band and their music.

So my father had something to do with the creation of Tommy by The Who.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

My Wicked Mistress – Part 3 – The Final Piece

Back in ’13, I was sloshing through life smoking cigarettes, drinking booze, and eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

But then I met Annabelle, and everything changed. I stopped smoking and went on the Paleo diet to look better for my new girlfriend.

I went from a 36″ waist to a 32″ waist in about two months.  It was miraculous. I never slowed down with my boozing, but the ciggies were gone and so was the fat off my body. It was great.

But what I later realized was, that I didn’t do it for myself. I did it to look good for a 26-year-old girl whom I just met at age 52.

I was never in love with her. I was in love with the idea of being in love. The rush of new love and romance. That dopamine drop I got from falling in love was better than any glass of liquor or drug you could ever take. It’s a euphoric high.

But it’s not healthy. I simply traded ciggies and fatty junk food for something else. All for the wrong reasons. I didn’t realize any of this at the time, but it’s just a weird cycle of events that one can spiral through at the onset of a new relationship.

The relationship only lasted 9 months for obvious reasons. We had nothing in common. She had no idea who she was or where she was going. And she was too young for me and from a world that was different than mine. The fundamental things that make for a good relationship between two people just weren’t present.

I didn’t mind that she was gone, but I didn’t like that she kept coming back every month for these little drunken hookups. It never allowed either of us to heal. It just kept the wound open and I had to put a stop to that. So I cut her off for good.

It’s all well documented in the series on this blog, and in my first book, Phicklephilly: One Man’s Journey to Find Love in Philadelphia.

You can read about that disaster here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

So, once she was gone I went back to smoking cigarettes and eating and drinking whatever I wanted. But I remained active and never really gained the weight back.

But in 2018 I gave up cigarettes for life. I was just sick of them and no longer enjoyed any part of it so I ended it. But in the first part of this series, you can see how I traded it for the JUUL vapes. I like them and at least nothing’s burning, there’s no carbon monoxide, there’s no mess, no dirty cigarette smell on me and my clothes and house, and no dirty ashtrays. Just a cleaner vice. (For now!)

Then in 2018 I had the health scare and cut out the consumption of the “oceans of chardonnay and the lakes of vodka” I consumed like I was in Motley Crue in the 80s. Now I consider myself a teetotaler. I probably drink less than the average American now and it’s great. Like cigarettes, I’m just not that into it anymore. I like feeling good and being clear and sober.

I used to write this blog drunk all the time in the beginning. The booze helped loosen my mind and my tongue to release all that content from my brain. But now I only write sober and hardly drink at all anymore. It’s great!

Now here we are in 202o-2021 and I go from running the sports bar on 11th street and 18th street on weekends to sitting at my desk all day writing my blog and my books during covid. This goes on for the rest of 2020 into 2021.

I’m writing my blog, which I’ve monetized, there are book royalties that roll in, and I write freelance commercial articles for companies across the country. So there are a few revenue streams but I still want something to do once my year and a half of being on the dole runs out.

The first retail place I drop my resume off hires me the next day. Spectacular. Any fear that I’d be too old or not able to find work after the pandemic vanished. I’ve got the gift of gab and a myriad of talents, so off I go again into a new vocation and social chapter of my life. I have no fear about anything now. I have no one to impress. I’ve had a colorful life and I just want to keep living and feeling good.

They gave me a couple of T-shirts to wear while working there. But I quickly realized the only ones that fit me comfortably were XL. Extra-large? Really, Chaz? You’re 5’9″ and have been a relatively slim guy your whole life.

But I haven’t been slim. I’m supposed to be, but my boozing and poor diet kept me looking bloated and paunchy. I could hide it with a black button-down shirt and a blazer, but there’s no escaping what your body really looks like. I’m not fat. I’m just out of shape and carrying too much weight for my sized frame.

So I decided to go back on the Paleo. It worked like a charm back in 2013. But I did it for the wrong reasons. I did it to look good for some young lady. You have to do things for yourself. Not someone else. That never works. You’re lying to yourself. You have to eat right and exercise and live right because you want to look and feel healthier for YOU. You should look like you’re supposed to look.

It’s pretty hard because you don’t need cigarettes. That’s a toxic poison. You don’t need drugs. You don’t need booze. You can live perfectly well without any of that. But you must have food. If you don’t eat, you’ll die. And that’s why it’s so difficult for most people to lose weight. We’re surrounded by food in our culture and so many of the things that make us fat or are bad for us taste soooooo good!

But you have to discipline yourself. Cut out the refined carbohydrates, sugar, and caffeine and you’re on your way. Fish, lean meat, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. All foods found in nature are all you need to be healthy. (Sure you need some carbs, but you can always add them back after you’ve turned your weight around)

By the time you read this, I should have already achieved my target goals months ago, but I thought it important to talk about these negative elements that have been in my life for so long.

I’m happy to be free from them and living the healthy happy life I’m supposed to be living and should have been living for my entire adult life.

It took a long time working through my anxiety, depression, and self-medicating to survive. But don’t get me wrong, I had a great time doing all of that bad stuff for years. I wouldn’t trade any of it, because it’s all been a part of my journey.

But I’m happy to say, I finally added the final piece to my health puzzle and it is now complete!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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