ANGEL WITH A BROKEN WING: Inspiration and Behind the Scenes – Part 3

I decided to go back in my memory and try to remember all of the inspiring moments in my own life that helped bring this book to life. I published Part 1 and 2 the last two Mondays, so you can check them out to gather more insight into the book. Anyway, here’s some more stuff…

The Conversations: The interesting dialogue between Christian and the people in his life all came out of my head for the most part. I originally envisioned Angel as a play. It was about two people on a long car ride. The play would focus on all of the cool conversations they have together on a road trip. I wanted the stories to be diverse and engaging. Back in the 90’s, what else was there to do on a long trip? Read a magazine, listen to the radio or simply talk. I liked the idea and as the story grew, I incorporated all of those clever exchanges into the story.

The Villain: Although I’m always rooting for the hero, the bad guys in movies and books are always more interesting than the good guys. When I think about it, the villain has his on perspective of right and wrong. Both parties think they’re right. Superman wants to save the world, but Lex Luthor has his own agenda. The villain in Angel simply wants what he believes is rightfully his, and will stop at nothing to get it. I can’t really blame him, but I don’t agree with his methods. He isn’t based on anyone I know. I just envisioned the classic man in black from modern folklore.

The Route: Back in 1982, I took a road trip from New Jersey to Los Angeles, in a 1969 Volkswagen mini bus. I was with my buddy Frank Roberts. It was February when we set out, so we took the most southern route. It was interstate 10. Remembering many of the details and stops on that trip, I was able to create a similar route for Christian and Jill. Knowing that road and those towns along the way, I was able to bring the trip to life in a realistic way.

The Wagon Wheel: That’s a restaurant that Chris and Jill dine in one day. The name of the place is from a song by the band, Morphine. It’s a song called Thursday. I love that whole album, (A Cure for Pain) The lyrics always seemed so clever and illicit, that I felt that the song deserved a mention. Here’s the lyrics:

We used to meet every Thursday Thursday
Thursday in the afternoon
For a couple of beers and a game of pool
We used to go to a motel a motel
A motel across the street
And the name of the motel was the Wagon Wheel
Oh
One day she said come on come on she said
Why don’t you come back to my house
She said my husband’s out of town
You know he’s gone till the end of the month
Well I was just so nervous so nervous
You know I couldn’t really quite relax
‘Cause I was never really quite sure when her
Husband was coming back
Sure one of the neighbors yea one of the neighbors
One of the neighbors that saw my car
And they told her yea they told her
I think they know who you are
Well her husband he’s a violent man a very violent and jealous man
Now I have to leave this town I got to leave while I still can
We should have kept it every Thursday Thursday
Thursday in the afternoon
For a couple of beers and a game of pool
We should have kept it every Thursday Thursday
Thursday in the afternoon
For a couple of beers and a game of pool
She was pretty good too
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Mark Sandman
Thursday lyrics © BMG Rights Management
I just liked the song so I worked the Wagon Wheel into the book.

New Orleans: Back in 1982, on my real road trip with Frank, we pretty much stayed on highway 10. But I remember the day we left Mobile, Alabama, Frank expressed that he wanted to take highway 12 down into New Orleans. I’m so glad we did that. You can actually read about our whole trip in the series: California Dreamin’ on this blog! Just enter that into the SEARCH box and you can read the whole sordid tale. It’s such a unique and wild place I had to include it into Angel. Did I jump onstage and play with a band in a bar down there? No. But it just had to be a stop for our heroes on their trip because it’s just a neat place. I think after we left there I described it as… Sodom and Gomorrah with a two drink minimum!

Sealy, Texas: That really happened. It wasn’t as bad as I made it in the book, (the roaches!) but the whole bit about the desk clerk, his coloring book and him chasing us in his car down a dirt road, really happened to Frank and I on our journey back in 1982. Difference was, I didn’t have a bulldog .44 pistol. But I did have Frank, who was formerly a member of the Junior wing of the IRA back in Belfast, Ireland. I’ll never forget when he leaped out of the car, with an ice pick in his hand to face the guy chasing us. I obviously changed it up for the book, but yea…true story.

The Car: When I first started writing this book, I thought what kind of car should they take on an odyssey across America. The 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz came to mind. It’s an enormous automobile built for the open road. Can you imagine trying to parallel park that beast in the city? You’d never even find a spot for a car that size. Here’s a link to some more info:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_Eldorado

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible ...

It just seemed like the obvious choice for a long trip across the country. It looks like a 1950’s science fiction spaceship.  Who wouldn’t want to step on the gas and let that massive chrome boat carry you to parts unknown? There was a song I heard on WXPN in Philly, (public supported radio) by a band called Southern Culture on the Skids. There was a song called Voodoo Cadillac that opens the album. It’s some good old fashioned shit kickin’ rockabilly. I loved the idea of the title. So the character, Jean from Haiti was born, and he’s the one who brings the car back to life. As we all know Haiti is where voodoo comes from. I always like the movie, Serpent and the Rainbow, so that was an inspiration as well.

I always loved the car, and even bought a little toy one when I was in Palm Springs with my wife back in the 1990’s! (I still have it!)

The Police: The two officers that visit Christian and Jill in Texas were based on a couple of my childhood friends. Michael Mitchell was a kid I grew up with in Philly. His father was a cop and he became a police officer as well. He had a decorated career but sadly passed away in April of 2020. Richard Sarlo was my best friend in Wildwood New Jersey every summer. He always wanted to become a police officer. Through the years he rose up the ranks and eventually became the Chief of Police in Collingswood, New Jersey. He’s since retired and is living a happy life in South Jersey.

Scene in the Texas desert: The scene where Jill and Chris have to hang for a day in Texas because of the police investigation, was born from an old film. One of my least favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies, To Catch a Thief was the inspiration. It’s just Cary Grant and Grace Kelly riding a scooter in I the Italian countryside. She has a picnic lunch and I just loved the vibe of that scene so I sort of dropped that into the story. To me it’s a throwaway scene from a throwaway movie.

More to come next Monday!

 

Please buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing!

 

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

 

 

 

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

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

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ANGEL WITH A BROKEN WING is Now For Sale on Amazon! (kindle and paperback)

PUBLISHED!

 

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

 

The day is finally here, and I couldn’t be happier! This has been a long time coming and a labor of love. I’ve been working day and night to get this baby written, and I think it’s my finest work yet! I hope you enjoy it!

 

I wanted to create something new. Not a non-fiction, compilation of stories from my blog. Something new. A story. A fable. A love story that included all of the elements of all the films I liked. A thriller, road movie, romance, mystery, an action yarn, that would be full of twists and turns.

The world had gone a bit mad, and I wanted to create a world I could control. I wanted it to take place in a time before there were smart phones or social media. A story about a boy and a girl trying to fall in love, during extraordinary circumstances. Let’s put a fancy car in there. Have them drive across the country on a road trip. Let’s throw a bad guy in there. That’ll keep them on edge. Let’s make it a mystery too. Let’s ‘David Lynch’ it up a bit with some interesting, unique characters. Let’s make them all flawed in some way. They all have the potential to be good, but they’re all struggling with themselves. They all want something, but they don’t know the right way to get it. A collection of misfits all trying to find themselves. All broken in some way. They want to fly, but their wings are broken, so they choose to run.

What if you could just run away from your current life?

Christian Blackmore works as a manager at a local finance company in New Jersey. He’s burned out from all the bad loans, and making collection calls every night. He spends his days laboring at a job he hates, and his evenings drinking at a local bar with his best friend. 

When his favorite uncle dies, and leaves him a unique inheritance, he begins to question the path he’s taken in life.

He decides to take a road trip across the country with a woman he just met. She’s a mysterious beauty, who may hold a dark secret. 

What begins as a romantic journey, becomes a nightmare, when he realizes he’s being followed by an elusive stranger. What does he want? Is it Christian, the girl, or something far more sinister?

Angel with a Broken Wing, takes you on a terrifying, coast to coast thrill ride across America. Can one man fall in love, and stay one step ahead in a cat and mouse game with a killer?

You can check it out here:

 

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

 

I want to first thank my daughter. Thank you for coming into my life. You are my inspiration. I love you! I can always come to you with an idea and you make it perfect.

Scott Macintosh. You’re my best friend. You’ve been with me since the beginning. Thank you for staying on the ship, even when it was sinking. 

Will Ball. Thank you for your friendship, the films, the laughs, and of course, the cocktails. I’m honored to have you in my life as a friend. 

A.M. Homes. Thank you for answering my letter with a personal note so many years ago. I was so inspired by your words, it gave me the courage to write my story the way I wanted to tell it, without fear.

Thanks to the amazing team at Amazon Kindle. Without you, I’d be lost in a sea of technology. I can write the words, but you guys help me turn them into books.

Thanks to everyone at Amazon. I became a member over 20 years ago when you were just a giant bookstore. After crawling on my hands and knees to agents and publishing houses for years, Amazon finally gave me the biggest platform on Earth to bring my literary work to the world!

A special thanks to everyone at WordPress. Without you, I couldn’t publish Phicklephilly everyday for the last four years! Now we’re a dot com and I’ve monetized the site with ads! You gave me a home to bring my work to everyone! Thank you!

Thanks to all the folks over at GoDaddy. You made the transition from just another blogger, to a dotcom look easy. Thanks for always being there when I needed you. You’re the best!

Thank you, dear readers, and subscribers for all of your support over the years I’ve been writing this little blog. I appreciate you all, and try to respond to all of your comments. I love your comments!

Please buy my new book. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed. It’s quite a ride!

This is a great book to read at the beach this summer!

 

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

 

 

The people have spoken!

 

 

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

Buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing on Amazon!

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HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SUMMER, EVERYONE…EVERYWHERE!!!

 

Zoolon Forever!

ANGEL WITH A BROKEN WING is now On Sale at Amazon! (kindle & paperback)

PUBLISHED!!!!

The official announcement will come out at 6am today!

But in the meantime…

Sneak Peek!

 

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

 

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

 

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

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is available now!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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13 Things Rich People Don’t Spend Their Money On, While Poor People Are Ready to Take Out Loans for Them

There are things that speak to a person’s financial wealth. Usually, they are things like fur coats, fine jewelry, and expensive watches. Some poor people are ready to save their money for years or even take out loans to be able to buy these things. However, rich people around the world have gradually stopped indicating their social status this way.

We at Bright Side are big supporters of sensible spending and that’s why we want to highlight symbols of wealth that are not trendy anymore. There are still many people who haven’t realized this yet.

1. Gold jewelry

Stylish and wealthy women usually wear a moderate amount of gold jewelry when attending events. In addition, the quality of these items is the biggest priority for them. Some of them even prefer large jewelry.

For those whose financial position is not stable, buying gold is still considered an investment. It is believed that by buying a gold item, you create a stash for rainy days in the form of a gold chain or a ring. That’s why poor girls prefer to wear jewelry with the mantra: “I’m wearing the best of what I have.”

2. Clothes and shoes from expensive brands

Oftentimes, even very wealthy people are indifferent to branded clothing and wear ordinary, mass-market jeans and sweaters that are basic items in their wardrobe and in their everyday life. In one of his interviews, Bill Gates outlined that the watch on his wrist cost $10, despite the fact that he could afford millions of watches from the most famous brands. Instead of shopping, rich people try to explore the other pleasures that life has to offer, like entertainment and travel. This means more to them than a brand new bag.

3. Plastic surgery

Earlier, plastic surgery was pretty popular around the world — everyone wanted to have a perfect body and a flawless face. Rich men would even offer to pay for the transformation of their “chosen ones,” while the girls didn’t mind at all. Today more and more celebrities and wealthy people are against plastic surgery and are promoting having love for one’s body and wrinkles.

Meanwhile, many girls are still ready to cut back on a lot of things in order to save enough money for lip and breast surgeries, as well as other procedures that could help them look young and meet the current understanding of beauty ideals, which are actually fading into the past.

4. Fur coats

Famous designers and their wealthy clients are refusing to wear fur coats, since they believe that it is unethical to wear them. There were cases when animal advocates poured paint on girls who were wearing fur coats. In addition, California state has a law banning the wearing and selling of natural fur.

But fur coats are still considered a luxury item and an indicator of social status for some girls. However, theoretically, they can be easily replaced by frost-resistant down jackets, winter coats, or warm fur coats that are made of artificial fur.

5. Flying in business class

Rational people around the world want to travel modestly, even if they have the financial ability to pay more. For example, the founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, believes that flying business class is an unnecessary luxury, that’s why all IKEA employees, despite their level, fly in economy class and stay in inexpensive hotels.

However, many people with a moderate income are ready to overpay for a trip in business class, despite the fact that prices for air tickets continue to rise and business class tickets have seen the highest increases. In fact, thanks to the existence of expensive business class fares, airlines can keep affordable fares for economy class. When we know about this fact, business class flights stop looking so attractive.

6. Home appliances

Wealthy people don’t strive to buy the latest models of home appliances. If the previous model they bought still works perfectly, they see no need to buy a new one. At the same time, this rule is constantly broken by people with an average income — consumer loans are taken out for any household appliances and gadgets.

This also relates to “one-time” home appliances like waffle irons, pancake makers, ice cream makers, and fondue pots, as well as massagers with 15 nozzles. Most often, people use these super devices only one or 2 times, and afterward they just lie on a shelf and “stare” at their owners with dumb reproach for insensibly spent money.

7. A lot of knick-knacks

Successful people try to keep minimalism in their home’s design. Rich people increasingly prefer simplicity in their interiors, so as not to be distracted by household items and so they don’t waste time choosing and buying furniture, or repairing it. It helps them free up time for family, relationships, meeting friends, and work.

Oftentimes, the middle class try to fill their houses with various interior details and the latest trendy things. They strive to constantly improve their interior, distracting themselves from the really important immaterial things.

8. A big house

Wealthy people prefer to buy promising real estate, for little money, in order to make a profit when it grows in price. For example, billionaire Warren Buffett still lives in the same modest house that he bought in 1958. His cozy house in Nebraska state only cost him $30,000, today it’s estimated to be worth $650,000.

A Mexican billionaire whose fortune is estimated at $50 billion, also lives in a modest house that was bought long ago and avoids expensive things. Amancio Ortega, the founder of the Zara clothing store chain, also didn’t let his success infatuate him — he and his wife live in an ordinary house in Spain. A professor at Stanford University, David Cheriton, who owns $1.3 billion in Google shares, once said in his interview, “These people who build houses with 13 bathrooms and so on, there’s something wrong with them.”

The middle class, in contrast, is mainly driven by the saying, “Every man should plant a tree, build a house, and give birth to a son.” That’s why the life of many people starts to center around the construction of a big house, that sometimes doesn’t stop until the kids grow up. It takes a lot of money, time, and energy, while the expenses for maintaining the house itself and its territory take a big part of their income.

9. Luxury cars

Nowadays, wealthy people don’t buy new car brands if their own car is in good condition and meets all their needs. Even Facebook owner, Mark Zuckerberg, drives a Volkswagen with a manual transmission and says he never cared about “looking” rich.

However, many people around the world use expensive cars to boost their self-esteem and even not having the money to buy or maintain a vehicle like this doesn’t prevent them from getting one. They just take out car loans.

10. An expensive education

Millionaires know that a free education doesn’t differ much from an expensive one, while success in life is obtained by discipline, determination, and perseverance. In addition, nowadays big international companies are ready to hire young people for work, if they have the necessary knowledge. This means that professional experience and real skills are becoming more important than a college diploma.

At the same time, many people believe that if they pay for an education and get a diploma, they are buying a ticket to a successful life. As a result, young people take out huge loans to pay for their education, but after graduation, they have to work outside of their specialty for the next 5-10 years to pay back the loan to the bank, which means they spend the most precious years of their life doing this.

11. Buying lots of toys for their kids

Successful people came to the conclusion that they could harm their children by buying toys in unlimited quantities. Research proves it too: 36 children were offered the chance to play for half an hour with 4 or 16 toys. It was found that the kids from the first group (the ones who had 4 toys) showed more creativity and came up with more interesting ideas using fewer objects. If parents spend time with their kids and pay more attention to them, they will develop faster than if they are simply playing with a lot of toys.

At the same time, most parents admit that their kids are literally snowed under toys: their stuffed toys are so big that they require a separate apartment, their amount of dolls is so big that they could build a doll army, there are so many Legos that it’s possible to build a 2-story house out of them. Kids don’t have time to dream — they have everything and all their wishes come true too quickly. That’s the way parents show their love to their kids and give them the things they themselves didn’t have in their childhood.

12. Training and courses

Personal growth courses are a business, and the coaches there are not interested in the effective development of their clients. Because of this, it is impossible to transform your life drastically with the help of a training session like this. Successful people know that you can only change your life by continuously working on yourself and your goals.

At the same time, these courses have become incredibly popular among people who are planning to become successful. Even though their cost is pretty high, tickets are still sold really quickly. Poor people are often trying to find a magic pill that will change their life for the better. When one pill doesn’t work, they start to seek help from another coach.

13. The beauty sphere

Today, the natural color of nails speaks to privilege and wealth. Successful women prefer a neat, natural nail, in a modest pastel or nude shade that looks nice.

But many girls want to be sure that their manicure is noticeable by everyone around them, which is why they often opt for brighter colors of nail polish, unique designs with rhinestones, and extreme lengths. If the length is not enough, they go for artificial nails. This style is often chosen by middle class women who want to show that they have an idle and relaxed lifestyle.

Which things do you consider a part of your social status and are you not ready to give up?

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

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California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Chapter 11 – San Diego, CA – Ocean Beach

I woke up early. The sun was up but it was early. Frank was still asleep in the back of the van. I felt the chill of the morning as I slowly drove out of the desert and back up to highway 10.

Final day on the road.

Frank soon awakened and was up front with me. Once on the road we stopped and had breakfast at a roadside diner. Their all the same wherever you go in America. Nice little warm spots that always have quick service, friendly waitresses and fresh food. I like consistency in my life. It helps me cope with my anxiety.

We finish and hit the road again. It’s a long drive across Southern California. Highway 8 is close to the Mexican border. There’s not much out there. Drove through a few Indian Reservations. Highway 8 heads a bit north and continues right into San Diego. We should hit it by dusk.

I think about the trip leading us out here into the unknown. I’m 3000 miles from home. There’s no going back now. I’m happy to be on this adventure with Frank and we both still have plenty of money, so we’re in good shape financially. I brought $1000 in Traveler’s Checks and left $1000 home in my bank account in case of emergency. (Travelers Checks! Google it. It’s what we used instead of carrying cash when we traveled back in the days when there was no such thing as debit cards.)

No cell phones. No internet. Just letters, postcards, a landline phones to communicate with out loved ones. And folded paper maps to guide us on our journey. Primitive by today’s standards but that’s how we rolled back then.

As we get into San Diego’s city limits it starts to feel like California. Palm trees, taco spots large Latina population. This doesn’t look like any city I’ve ever been to.

San Diego (/ˌsæn diˈeɪɡoʊ/, Spanish for “Saint Didacus”; Spanish: [san ˈdjeɣo]) is a major city in California, United States. It is in San Diego County, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, approximately 120 miles (190 km) south of Los Angeles and immediately adjacent to the border with Mexico.

With an estimated population of 1,406,630 as of July 1, 2016,[9] San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest in California. It is part of the San Diego–Tijuana conurbation, the second-largest transborder agglomeration between the US and a bordering country after Detroit–Windsor, with a population of 4,922,723 people.[12] The city is known for its mild year-round climate, natural deep-water harbor, extensive beaches, long association with the United States Navy, and recent emergence as a healthcare and biotechnology development center.

San Diego has been called “the birthplace of California”.[13] Historically home to the Kumeyaay people, it was the first site visited by Europeans on what is now the West Coast of the United States. Upon landing in San Diego Bay in 1542, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claimed the area for Spain, forming the basis for the settlement of Alta California 200 years later. The Presidio and Mission San Diego de Alcalá, founded in 1769, formed the first European settlement in what is now California. In 1821, San Diego became part of the newly independent Mexico, which reformed as the First Mexican Republic two years later. In 1850, California became part of the United States following the Mexican–American War and the admission of California to the union.

The city is the seat of San Diego County and is the economic center of the region as well as the San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan area. San Diego’s main economic engines are military and defense-related activities, tourism, international trade, and manufacturing. The presence of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), with the affiliated UCSD Medical Center, has helped make the area a center of research in biotechnology.

We head down to Ocean Beach and get a motel room. We plan on staying for awhile and seeing the sights and figuring out the job situation.

But we’re going to the San Diego Zoo this week because I heard it was awesome!

We finally made it! What a trip!

 

 

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California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 Chapter 2 – On The Road

After working through the Fall after the Summer season was over, I was itching to get on with the next chapter of my life. I had stayed on at Hunt’s Pier and worked on the maintenance crew. I think they laid us off around the holidays and we all just went on Unemployment. I planned my trip and kept in touch with Frank.

Back in 1981 the best way to plan a trip was to be a member of AAA. (Automobile Association of America) You went into the office and told them where you were planning to go and they would literally map out the entire trip for you. Maps, Tour books, something they called a Trip Tik, (Which was little notebooks that blew up your route on a series of maps.) It was really thorough. Using the tools provided you couldn’t get lost. They gave you info on everything. Gas stations, hotels and motels, facts about each town you were passing through. Just a wonderful service for travelers.

So I tell them what I’m doing and give them a week or so to put it all together. I had used their services before for short trips to Baltimore and Washington D.C. Kind of like, let’s take a few trips and see how we do before we take the epic journey to the new world.

Frank tells me he’s leaving Fort Lauderdale the 1st week of February and heading up to his Aunt’s house in Atlanta. I tell him I’ll come down and meet him there. He says we can hang there for a week and then head out West from there. Sounds like a plan to me. He provides me with her address and I tell him I’ll see him then.

That’s how people communicated long distance back then. Just a couple of phone calls and usually letters. Yes, we wrote letters. I’ll write about that in another post.

____________________________________

It was a cold grey morning in February, 1982. The VW minibus was all packed, and I was saying goodbye to my parents and sisters. I remember my mother crying, and my dad giving me some extra money. I hugged and kissed everyone goodbye and I left home.

It was a tough morning and I was scared shitless. I had never done anything like this before, let alone by myself. I drive South to Cape May. I am catching the first Ferry to Lewes Delaware. It’s the shorter route. I’ve never been on a ferry before so I’m terrified of that too. I decide I’m going to stay in the car the entire trip and listen to my music. It’s freezing outside anyway. I drive in with the rest of the cars. We wait a few minutes and then the ferry moves out into the Delaware River. Everybody gets out of their cars and heads upstairs to the inside upper deck.

I’m alone in this hollow dark place in the middle of a ferry surrounded by a bunch of empty cars. It feels like everyone’s gone and I’m left behind. fear and anxiety clutch me.

I change my mind. I get out of the van and lock it up. I go upstairs. People are in there and it’s warm and people are drinking coffee and eating and chatting. I’m so alone and I’m barely out of Jersey. I decide to go outside to get some fresh air. I’m the only one dumb enough to go out of the main cabin this time of year. But I want to feel it.

I step out onto the deck. The February wind bites my cheeks. The sky is grey like my spirit. I walk to the bow of the boat and look down. The boat is literally crunching through the ice coated water. I can see ice breaking up right in front of me. I’ve never seen anything like this. I mean, I’ve seen Tookany Creek frozen in the winter but that was just a little creek that we used to play near when I was a kid back in the 1970’s in Northeast Philly.

I am terrified. I’m alone. What am I doing?  I’m so scared.

But I must go on.

The ferry lands in Lewes, Delaware and everyone embarks.  I’m in my VW minibus and off I go. I’m driving South and now it’s on. I have to push on through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina and I’m just scared. Simply frightened.

I remember my mom had packed me a little lunch for the trip. A little sandwich, chips and a soda. I went through the Chesapeake Tunnel and came out on the other side. I had so much anxiety going through that when I got to the other side I pulled over one the side of the road and threw up. That was my life back then. I couldn’t do anything without getting sick. My whole life was sickness. Think about that. All of the fun adventures you look forward to and are excited to do paralyze me.

You’re hot for your date with a new girl? I’m dying inside. I love her just as much and took the chance to get her but when the time comes I’m dead inside. A sea of nausea and fear. I can never enjoy any of the things you love. it’s all fear and sickness,  all of the things you take for granted and have fun with, I and sitting there on the sidelines dying.

You look forward to getting into the pants of the girl before you. I’m just happy she isn’t revolted by me and when I finally drag myself forward to ask her out I am almost to sick to take her out.

But I love her so much

And I will dry heave myself away to take her on a date. why? No idea. Just something in me. A weakness. a sickness.

I end up in a hotel in South Carolina and I am drained from the drive. I call my parents and cry on the phone to them. They are sweet to me but I know I must do better tomorrow and make it to Atlanta before I perish on this journey.

I fall asleep in my hotel bed. I’m scared and alone. I am breaking the shell of my anxiety and understanding. I have to do this. I know it. I have to do this. I have to go to California, if nothing else.

I’m a loser and have nothing else left in my life to do.  I have to do this now because there is no alternative.

_____________________________________

I wake up in my hotel room in South Carolina. I can’t even tell you what it was like because I am in a daze. I just need to get back on the road and get to Atlanta. I’m close. I’m one state away and I’m still really scared. I have to push forward. I’m going to see my friend. It’ll be great. That’s all I need to do.

I fire up the VW and off I go. I drive for hours and finally hit the outskirts of Atlanta. The directions they gave me back then were so good I actually pulled up on Frank’s aunt’s street by dusk that day.

I was so relieved I got to the house It’s like I was home again. but in a stranger’s home. but frank was there and a nice old lady and they were all very Irish and beautiful. the warmth and welcoming was overwhelming that I had made my trip was magic.

I was so happy to see Frank and his aunt was so welcoming. My fear turned to safety. I knew id be okay. We catch up over dinner and a few beers. I find it hard to believe this is all happening.

I knew our adventure was just beginning and we’d go and do that but for now we would rest for a week and just let the journey happen when we wanted it to. I was still having a lot of anxiety but was happy that I had moved forward with my life and I was with my friend.

I was away from shitty Wildwood a the dead-end that it had become. I was away from Hunt’s Pier and my dad and my family completely. Gone. I loved them but that wasn’t for me any more. I was going to California to be a metal god and that was the end of it.

I tried to keep a diary on the road but life became to interesting for me to even bother.

I settled into my bed and knew there was fortune to be had.

 

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California Dreamin’ -1982 to 1984 – Chapter 1 – The Idea

Back in 1982, I left New Jersey in my ’69 Volkswagen mini bus for Los Angeles. I’ll tell the whole story of that journey at some point, but I wanted to intro a new series that tells some of my interesting dating and social interactions while out in California. I was only 19 years old when I left, so these stories come from a younger man’s life. We got up to some wild shit back then.

These stories contain a bit more sexually explosive content so beware fair readers.

We were young, in a band and living in L.A. What could happen?

It was a long time ago but some of these tales are worth telling.

I’ll kick it off with this one.

 

I was sitting in a little tavern with my friend Bill in North Wildwood back in the summer of ’81. It’s a nice little beer and shot neighborhood bar. Woody’s is located at 19th and New Jersey Ave. It took me a moment to remember the name and location. It was a good lunch spot and also cool to hang out at night if you wanted to stay away from the club scene.

I met Bill working on Hunt’s Pier. It’s an old amusement pier on the boardwalk. I worked on The Golden Nugget Mine Ride, which was an old roller coaster enclosed in what looked like a big old western type mine. People road in little mine cars through the ride and stuff popped out of the darkness to shock and surprise them. It’s been torn down for many years but I have so many wonderful memories to write about regarding this period of my life. I can still smell the grease of the chain that carried the mine cars to the roof of the building.

Bill worked one of the games at the front of the pier. I don’t remember how we met, but we became good friends because at the time he was the funniest guy I had ever met. We hung out outside work and Bill was just so funny to be around. Usually I’m supplying the laughs but he just had a quick wit and I loved that about him. Bill wanted to go to California and become “the next Robert DeNiro” at the end of the summer season.

I tell him I want to go to California and become a metal god. (guy that plays hard rock and metal in a band) I suggest we save our earnings and go out together. He agrees.

I was a young naïve teenager back then and fell hard for people I met. We talked all about how great it would be when we got to L.A. and became stars. We did this most of the summer.

At some point I remember my dad chatting with Bill about our plan. I had him over to meet my Dad because I was so taken with my funny amazing new friend. My Pop has a lot of experience with people.

My Dad later told me that it sounded like Bill, was a bit of a feather merchant. Someone who could attach himself to me to get a free ride out to L.A. He also said that the stories Bill had told him about things he did and said back home in South Philly, and my Dad felt those stories didn’t wash. He also felt that Bill wasn’t really saving any money for this trip that I had already saved a thousand dollars for.

Well I think somehow Bill caught wind of what my dad was feeling. (Just looking out for my best interest) and got pissed off.  I remember him saying how he really hated my father and the trip was off.

I was crushed. I loved Bill and it was like he was breaking up with me. But as I write this now, I know my Dad was right about him. Bill’s pride was hurt, he was kind of a blowhard, and he hadn’t saved any money all summer. This was his immature boy’s way out.

But all was not lost. There was another guy I worked with on the ride. Frank. He was from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was studying law and taking a year or two off to travel and have fun before he entered law school in London. We worked together every night on the ride and became good friends.

I remember telling Frank what had happened with Bill, and he said he’d go to California with me. He was going down to Florida with some of his mates in October and they were just going to work there for a bit. Irish people can get jobs like crazy. Great people! He said that he’d be coming up to stay with his Aunt and cousin in Atlanta after the holidays. So we started to plan for that. I was happy to be going with Frank, because I liked him and knew he was trustworthy and reliable.

I never really saw or spoke to Bill ever again. Not that I hated him or anything. We just lost touch after the incident and I guess he went back to South Philly.

But I was excited that the trip to Cali was still on!

 

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Wildwood Daze – 1980 – I’ve Had It With This Town

I love the summer. I’ve been dropped here against my will by some other person. My father. I have no control over my life. I have to go to school at a new school as a stranger. I know you have a problem with my dissatisfaction and depression.

I excel in school and start a band. I thrive in this shit hole you’ve dropped me off with no concept of how that will break your son’s spirit.

Janice is off in college so you’re good. If anything is of kilter your going to lose your shit and that is me.

What did you think was going to happen?

Let’s rip the 17-year-old son from all of his friends and his band from Philly and drop him off in Wildwood, New Jersey. A retirement and resort town the you already know is a deathtrap for young people.

You dropped out of high school to get away from this hell hole. You joined the army rather than turn to crime at 17. You fucking asshole that I love.

I get it. I worked in banking just like you for 30 years. You were making a bunch of bad loans at the Provident in Philly and got out when the getting was good.

You retreated to NJ. your little safe haven to escape, but you never thought of what that would do to the children in your life.

The little ones were fine. April and Gabby didnt;t know any better. But I was a senior in high school. I never got to graduate with my friends at Frankford in Philly. I had a band. You destroyed that for your little escape plan.

But what was that. You replicated your life in NJ as the regional manager at First Fidelity Bank. You’re a great manager and a great man. But you really have a taste for some of your employees, man.

I remember telling you about a girl I met once how I was in a relationship and I told you about how I had feelings for her.

You said, “Why don’t you just move on her”

I said: “Because that would be wrong. I’d be cheating on my girlfriend and that would betray her trust in me.”

You were pleased and happy with my answer.

I knew it.. because you could never be that. I could see it in your eyes you were relived that I wasn’t like you in that respect.

That respect.

Bitch, please.

If you’re unhappy in your liffe, divorce mom and just send the check and leave us the fuck alone. Then you can bag Jennifer Sweeten or as you call her “sweet meat” all you want until her husband finds out.

You’ll figure it out.

 

You and your brother Jack were dropped off here after your parents divorced. Nobody got divorced back then.

Why the hell would you think it was a good idea to drop me off in this shit hole?

Wildwood is a glistening sand castle of magical fun and romance in the summer… and then it turns into a bleak shroud of dark depression where there is nothing going on in the winter. It is a desolate hole of isolation that is impossible for a teenager to escape.

Here I am. I know you and there is a part of you that is me. Some great. Some awful. But you have the chore of raising the shitty you and now the shitty son you don’t understand who is too much like your brother Jack.

So if there were any questions as to why Chaz wanted to load up the ’69 Volkswagen minibus and drive across the country to go live in sunny California let’s put all of that to rest right now.

I love you, you selfish, self-serving prick.

I really do.

Thank you for teaching me to read. Thank you for all of the books. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for teaching me to ride a bike. Thank you for teaching me how to catch a fish. Thank you for teaching me to drive a car. Thank you for teaching me about wine, art, and literature and film. Thank you for teaching me about women. (To an extent) Thank you for everything.

I’m not going to mention all of the bad stuff here.

All ready did some of that.

 

Time to load of the 69 VW minibus and head to California.

 

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Another Life – Chapter 1

This was originally going to be two separate stories, but they overlap (as you’ll see), so I decided to combine them. This story is also set in the distant past, before PCs and the internet … back when a record was something that sat on a turntable …

– “So, Joe … c-can you help me out?”

That was how it all started.

Marty was a short, paunchy nerd with a speech impediment – a stutter that came and went. He was understandably shy in social in social situations.

In Grade 9, on Initiation Day, I stepped in between Marty and two bullies who wanted to use his head to clean a toilet. I wish I could tell you that I kicked their asses – but I was the one who got my clock cleaned. Oh, I got in a couple of shots, but Marty did the most damage when he bit one of them hard enough to draw blood.

It would be nice, too, to report that the student body respected our courage, and that initiations were strictly forbidden from them on.

Yeah, right. We were suspended for 3 days, and got a reputation for being a couple of psychos. We probably weren’t going to fit in with the popular kids anyway, but that incident certainly accelerated the process.

Marty was a nerd, and I … I was never there. From the age of 13, I’d had a part-time job (and sometimes two). Right after school, I went off to work. All day Saturday, too.

It was my stepmother’s idea, really. I think that she just wanted me out of the house. Then, a few years later, she got the brilliant idea that I should pay rent, because I had money. My Dad was too whipped to object.

– “It’ll be a valuable lesson for him.” she said.

– “It’ll be a good experience for you, Joseph.” said Dad.

The fuck it was. Stacking shelves at the grocery store, pumping gas, or carrying roof tiles up a ladder all summer doesn’t teach you much, except how hard it can be to earn an honest dollar – or how much of your school’s social life you miss when you’re always at work.

That meant no sports, no clubs, no extracurriculars of any kind. Marty and I were both socially invisible. But there was always that bond between us.

In some cultures, if you save a man’s life, then you become responsible for him. I have to admit that I felt something like that towards him. And Marty … well, let’s just say that he went out of his way to pay me back.

In my senior year, I had to consider my options. I wasn’t sure that I could afford college. Dad finally spoke to his younger brother about me. Ray was a grease monkey at a downtown garage. He was a damn good mechanic, though, and when he put in a good word for me, his boss took me on part-time.

– “Don’t fuck this up, Joeseph.” said Uncle Ray. “You do, an’ you make us both look bad.”

– “I won’t.” I promised.

I cleaned up the garage, learned how to change tires, and do oil changes. I was also Joe Fetchit if anyone needed a tool, or a coffee, or a donut … and I went home dirty every night. But it paid better than most of the jobs I’d had – and I was actually learning something. Most of the guys were pretty decent to me, too.

So maybe that was how Marty and I connected – talking about cars. We started to hang out a bit. He regularly came over to pick me up, if we got up to anything. I never asked – God’s honest truth – Martin suggested it, every single time.

– “I’ll swing by and pick you up.” He must’ve said it a hundred times.

I was 18, but looked older, so I was the designated beer-buyer (Fake ID wasn’t readily available, back in the day). It was a mutually beneficial partnership, but I think I benefited more. What I’m trying to say is that I owed Marty quite a few favors, for all the times he’d driven me all over hell’s half-acre. He’d even lent me his car to go for my driver’s exam.

That was why, when Marty asked for my help, I didn’t hesitate.

– “So, Joe… c-can you help me out?”

– “Sure. What do you need?”

– “Will you … d-double date with me, Joe?”

– “WHAT?” I couldn’t have been more shocked. As far as I knew, Marty had never even come close to having a girlfriend.

– “I met her at church.” he said. Then the words came out – all in a rush. “She’s really cute. But shy. More shy than me. I think I like her, but if I ask her out alone she’ll probably say no.”

I was afraid that he was going to hyper-ventilate. “Slow down, Marty! Breathe …”

– “She lives near you. Close enough for you to walk. But I can swing by and pick you up. I already told her that my best friend lived nearby, and that we might ‘drop in’ on Sunday.”

– “Good for you, Marty. That’s great. Keep breathing. What do you need me to do?”

– “Well, she’s got sisters. Her parents will let go out, but only if her sisters go, too.”

– “Like chaperones.”

– “Something like that.”

– “So you need me to run interference? Keep the sisters busy? I can do that. Give me the bad news, then.”

– “What bad news?

– “Tell me the truth. How ugly are they? And don’t tell me they have nice personalities – that’s a dead giveaway.”

– “They’re not ugly.” It sounded like he was telling the truth, but I could have sworn that he was hiding something.

– “Come clean. Details.”

– “The older sister is 19. Her name is Samantha. I swear, she’s cute. And there’s also the younger sister – Tanya – she’s only 16.”

– “Three sisters? And you want me to keep two of them busy.”

– “C-Can you help me out, Joe?

– “Sure, Marty. What are friends for?” After all, I thought – how bad could it be?

– “Thanks, man.” he said. “This means a l-lot to me.”

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=365

 

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14 of the Weirdest, Craziest, Philly-est Stories from 2018

Greased poles, profane potholes, farm animals roaming the city. Just another year in Philadelphia.

https://billypenn.com/2018/12/27/14-of-the-weirdest-craziest-philly-est-stories-from-2018/

 

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