Thanksgiving Tradition

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s one from 2017

My family has always celebrated Thanksgiving, but Christmas was always our big holiday. I’m always welcome at my older sister Janice’s house every year. She has a big house and we refer to her place as Holiday Headquarters. There was one year many years ago when I was invited to go to my other sister Gabrielle’s house all the way down in North Wildwood, New Jersey. Back then I was newly divorced, and I just didn’t feel like making the drive all the way down there. My daughter was little then and with her Mom and that side of the family for Thanksgiving. I was just happy that my ex-wife was out of the house and out of my life for that matter. I was looking forward to a day of listening to music, watching movies, and eating and drinking. I like to be alone. I’m a very social animal, and I get my energy from those around me, but I just wanted a day of sweet nothing and solitude.

I lived in Woodbury, NJ back then. I drove over to the local convenient store and picked up a box of frozen Ellio’s Pizza. It’s a cheap and tasty treat I have loved since I was a lad. The lady at the counter says, “I hope you’re not eating that for Thanksgiving!” I coolly replied, “Oh, no. My daughter loves these things. I always keep them in for her.” (a bald-faced lie)

That night I happily sat on my sofa watching some cool movies, drinking Ketel One vodka and tonics, and eating my delicious Ellio’s Pizza. I had a nice, quiet Thanksgiving. I was grateful to have a family that cared about me and most of all that little Lorelei was in the world.

So I joked around with my sisters about that day, and of course, they felt bad for me. They didn’t want me eating frozen pizza and drinking liquor by myself on Thanksgiving, but that’s what I really wanted to do that day. So it’s sort of becoming a family joke every year for Thanksgiving. It came up again this year when I declined my sister’s invitation. It’s not that I didn’t want to see her, but I’ve seen her a lot lately, and my parents have passed, so what’s the point? Once the main anchors of a family die, usually the children retreat to their own little families. She understood and we’ll all get together at her annual holiday party in December at Holiday Headquarters.

I went to the Midtown Diner and had a huge breakfast at the counter. Scrambled eggs, bacon, and french toast. It’s too much food, but I crushed it all and it was delicious. I went back to my house and did some writing. Lorelei escaped the clutches of having to spend Thanksgiving with her mother. She went to her boyfriend’s mother’s house. She’s a hard-core vegan and made some really creative dishes. I’m glad she’s happy and I’m sure they were glad to have her there for the holiday.

I finished a chapter and wanted to get something to eat around 4:30. I left the house and walked down to South street. Everything was closed, but I didn’t feel like going into Walgreens where I’d have to get something to heat up or bake in the oven. Then I looked to the left and remembered there was a new 7-Eleven a block away.

I stopped in and was surprised at all of the people in there buying stuff. Maybe I could start a little Thanksgiving club with them. They could come over with a load of 7-Eleven food and I’d supply the booze. I picked up some things and headed back to the house.

The city was deserted. Dark and eerily quiet because everybody was off doing their family things. I got home, went to my desk, and fired up an old episode of Columbo on Netflix. I poured myself a vodka and club soda. I don’t drink Ketel One anymore at home. Too expensive. I only have it out now in a martini, straight up with a twist. My current brand is Platinum X7 by Sazerac. A 1.75 bottle is $20. My favorite thing to mix it with is Polar club soda with lemon that I buy by the liter at Walgreens. I tore open the small bag of Lay’s potato chips. Then opened the box that contained the quarter-pound 7-Eleven hot dog, and spread mustard along its length.

Changed it up this year! Wanted to send a pic to all of my sisters but decided against it.

A man who can sit in a room alone and be satisfied is a man who has found inner peace.” – My Dad

 

 

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

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

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

Tales of Rock: Eddie Van Halen… There Is Only One

 

This is what a musical genius looks and sounds like.

 

 

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

My new books, Phicklephilly 2 and Sun Stories: Tales from a Tanning Salon are now for sale on Amazon!

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

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Michelle – Chapter 24 – Last Goodbye

“When I saw Michelle for the first time, I thought, That’s the saddest girl I’ve ever seen….
and the most beautiful.”

I think this is my final entry in the long running Michelle series. 

Because she’s long gone.

I wish only health and happiness to her and her family.

 

“Do you think I can have one more kiss? I’ll find closure on your lips, and then I’ll go.”

“Maybe one more lunch and one more dinner and drinks?”

“I’ll be full and happy, and then we can part.”

“But in between meals, maybe we can lie in bed one more time.”

“One more prolonged moment where time suspends indefinitely as you rest your pretty head against me.”

You always said, “At the end of the day, I wish I could start all over and have it again with you.”

My hope is if we had “one mores,” they’d equal a lifetime, and I’ll never have to get to the part where I let you go.

But that’s not real, is it?

There are no more, “One mores.”

I met you when everything was new and exciting here in Philly, and the possibilities of the world seemed endless.

And they still are.

For you and for me.

But not us.

Somewhere between then and now, here and there, I guess we didn’t grow apart, you grew up.

I look at your beautiful face. I’m trying to memorize every lovely detail. Because I know I’ll never see you again.

When something breaks, if the pieces are large enough, you can fix it.

Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t break, they shatter.

But when you let the light in, shattered glass will glitter.

And in those moments, when all the pieces of what we were catch the sun… I’ll remember just how wonderful it was.

And just how beautiful it will always be.

Because it was us.

And we were magic.

 

 

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

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

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

SUN STORIES – Tales From a Tanning Salon, Now Available on Amazon

Yes. It’s now available on Amazon.

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

I was working at a local media company here in Philadelphia. One of my advertising clients was a tanning salon. I became friendly with the owner. He was always complaining about his staff. I asked if I could start moonlighting there for some extra income.

He immediately hired me. One shift became two, then three, and within a month or so, I became full time. I was tired of working at the media company where I was currently employed. A publication that was no longer relevant in this city. Print was basically dead… but tanning salons were hanging by a thread.

But I enjoyed working there. It was a fun job. I met a lot of great people during my time there. But with every job, there’s always challenges… and temptations.

Sun Stories: Tales from a Tanning Salon, takes you on a sunny, and sometimes dark journey of my time working there. It’s filled with funny, unique, and sometimes cringe worthy tanning stories. But there were other forces at work there. What began as an easy part time gig, slowly evolved into a story filled with love, obsession, sex, and misadventure.

When I was editing Phicklephilly 2, I had a revelation. I realized that Phicklephilly 2 was all about the relationship I was in with my girlfriend, Cherie. The love affair, the passion, and the infidelity of that glorious celebration of two people coming together.

But, I looked at Sun Stories, and saw that it ran parallel to Phicklephilly 2. It was a complete documentation of my work life during that period. Phicklephilly 2 was about my relationship with Cherie, and Sun Stories was my work life.

They’re both happening at the same time. I have to release them together.

That’s my whole life between 2016 and 2018. It’s everything. I have to release them both.

Cherie. I loved her. But after Michelle and Annabelle, I was now armed with how to navigate my future relationships. Secure myself and see what happened. I’d never enter into another relationship without my armor on.

I was working at the media company that was the last cool paper in the city. When I think about going to that publication, I think of Ronnie James Dio. He once said that when he joined Black Sabbath to replace Ozzy Osbourne, he called it, the second coming… or going, of Black Sabbath.

That’s how it felt when I joined this dying publication. I loved all of the people I worked with there, but knew the paper was doomed. It’s greatest days had come and gone. I only did it because I was about to be fired from the start up where I was working. I had such high hopes for what I was going to build with that little start up. The money was great, and I’m forever grateful for that. But they never followed through with the investors to build it out into a national site.

That site is dead now.

It was heartbreaking for me to leave them, but I’m sure the owner was relieved he no longer had to pay me. Why did he never follow through? It makes no sense. I guess I’ll never know. We could have built something wonderful. I jumped to a local free publication and made a go of it. That old publication was in a state of flux, and the changes that unfolded for that sweet paper destroyed the very thing it once was. I worked hard at what I’m good at. Acquiring accounts and building the business.

But the writing was on the wall. They had brought in a fool to run the daily operations. He systematically destroyed the advertising department at the paper. Can you imagine that? The guy gets a job to grow a struggling business and all he knows how to do is ruin it.

He did that. All of the meetings. The Monday morning kickoff meeting. The Wednesday Sales Meeting. The Thursday One on One. He should be horse whipped. He broke the spirit of everybody who worked there.

There are no clients in any of your foolish meetings you silly asshole.

How could he be such a failure as a leader when he seem like such a nice guy?

Detritus.

My father passed away, and I was fed up. I was the only sales guy on the floor. Rocco was a fixture and an account rep. He can’t sell. The new manager brought in a couple of retards, and I could see there was no future there. The place was a rotten husk.

It kind of sucks, because back in the day, I LOVED that publication and the CITY PAPER. They were god to me. If you wanted to see what was up in Philly, they were the papers you grabbed. They were in honor boxes around the city. I would always read them every week. Everything I needed to know was in those sweet papers.

But, here I was working at this anachronism. It was over. My daughter will never touch a newspaper. It’s over. It’s been over since 2008. Print is dead.

Oh, but here we go…

Tanning is dead too.

I had a client who actually spent money with me to advertise his brand. I did my best for him. I believed in his products and services. I gave my all. I came up with creative ideas because I cared. I wrote killer copy for his ads. I did what I’m good at.

I liked it so much, I went to work there to escape the dungeon of selling print advertising in a paper whose epitaph had already been written.

But I had no idea it would open a flower I had never seen before.

This is the most lurid book I’ve ever written.

So let’s begin.

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 books, Phicklephilly 2 and Sun Stories, are now for sale on Amazon!

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

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Sabrina – Post Birthday Brunch

Sabrina looms large in the phicklephilly universe. She first appeared two years ago as part of the Sun Stories series when I was moonlighting at the tanning salon. I met her through one of the other clients named Jill who was one of our regulars.

I haven’t seen or really spoken to Sabrina in a while. We cross paths on social media but that’s about it. She’s been a huge fan of phicklephilly for years, and for that I’m grateful. I remember she once said, “I love all the stories about all of these crazy women in your blog. I read them and pretend it’s me that’s doing all of these crazy antics.” I love that! It’s so nice to have people out there that love what I do. It keeps me going to write more content. It’s been hard the last few months, because there’s been literally nothing happening. I’ve been in quarantine for the last five months!

About a week or so ago, I liked something she posted on social media and she thanked me. Now I remember! She re-posted a pic of me standing in front of a poster of the cover of my last book, Angel with a Broken Wing. The caption said: Buy this book! Of course I loved that. But then she texted this, “Hey, me and Jill are going to dinner at Parc on Sunday. What are you up to?”

“When will you be there? Maybe I could swing by and say, hello!”

“5:30. Swing by. We’d love to see you.”

“Same! I’m gonna put that in my calendar!”

“Yay, I’ll tell Jill.”

I was excited. I need to start getting out more and creating new stories after all of this time in quarantine. So, on the day we were supposed to meet I sent her a text. “Are you still meeting with Jill at Parc today at 5:30?”

“Hey. No. Look what she sent me this morning.” (She enclosed a screenshot from her convo with Jill) It read: “Good morning. My dear friend please have patience with me. I can’t go to dinner today because I’m still broken, but the good news is I’m working on it. I’ve only had one therapy session, so it’s going  to probably take a few more before I can start becoming normal. I love you and miss you.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“I know. I hope she gets better.”

“Yes. The important thing is she’s trying. That’s a lot. I was looking forward to seeing you.”

“I know, Me too! I’m in DC this week for work but I’m around Friday if you want to do lunch or dinner just you and I.”

“That would be awesome. Do you like Korean barbecue?”

“Yes!”

“I have just the place. I can do Friday around dinner time.”

Okay that works. What’s your usual work schedule?”

“I’ve been furloughed since March.”

“Oh, okay. Good for you for taking this time to write your blog and your books.”

“Exactly! It’s been a creative explosion for my daughter and me.”

So that’s bad news about Jill. If you want to learn about the full Jill saga, you can simply put her name in the Search bar on the homepage and you’ll find her history on here. It’s quite the story. Jill is a lovely, hard working woman who has a charming personality. But we all have our demons. For some it’s harder to spank them and make them pay.

So Friday rolls around, and I’m pumped to see Sabrina for some delicious dinner at my new hangout, Southgate.

Then I get this text: “Good morning! I am still in DC today for work so I’ll have to re-schedule our dinner. Could you do Sunday?”

“Sure. See you then.”

Then Sunday rolls around, (My birthday. We all know how that went. See: Iris – Happy Birthday Papa Squirrel)

I get this text: “Charlie, I hate to ask for another re-schedule but I have no car today due to check engine light coming on. If you’re open to one last change tomorrow at 5pm I’ll be so happy. I’m in the office tomorrow on Columbus Blvd. and can just Uber to location.”

“Okay.”

“Tomorrow at 5pm? Oh, you know what place I drove past the other day? Misconduct. Can we go there or are you set on the Korean BBQ? I am trying not to eat meat.”

“Misconduct at 18th and JFK is fine.”

“Yay, see you there at 5pm. Can’t wait to hear all about your life.”

“Yours too!”

So, Monday rolls around and I get this text: “Hey, can you meet sooner, like 3pm?”

An hour later I awaken from my nap and respond.

“Sure. See you then.”

“Okay, great let’s do 3:30pm. My meeting is still going on and will end at 3pm. See you there then. Sorry, last time change.”

“Okay, 3:30pm.”

So, I pull myself together, and spritz myself with cologne. I put on a clean shirt, and suit up to go meet with Sabrina after not seeing her lovely face for over two years.

I make the seven block walk up 18th street through Rittenhouse. I think back to when I first met Sabrina. She and Jill were both sharing some struggles in their lives. I remember when she said her boss where she was working had cut her hours. She was very upset and I told her to meet me at Misconduct, and I’d bring a big list of all of my business contacts, and we were going to find her a job. That day everything changed for her, she updated her resume and sent it out. Several businesses got back to her and she got a great job with a real estate development firm. She loves her job, and is still there today. That’s why she had to go to DC last week. I’m really proud of her and all of her accomplishments. She thanks for my faith, assistance and good energy, but it was Sabrina that made it all happen.

I get to JFK blvd. and head up the steps to Misconduct. One of the girls meets me and I think it’s either the hostess or my server or both. It turns out to be both and her name is Danessa. It’s funny now, I have to gauge peoples emotions by their eyes because everyone’s wearing a mask. She’s very sweet and shows me how to do the bar code thing with my phone but I’m already wise to that thanks to my birthday brunch with Iris.  I like that I’m a little early for my 3:30 meeting with Sabrina. Gives me a chance to get settled and order a drink. I order my signature Manhattan, because I know they’re good here.

The pictures don’t lie…

The dining room is obviously closed to the public but they have plenty of seats on the front deck. I love Misconduct. There are two of them, and this is their second location. I like this one the best. I have so many great memories from this location. I used to come here for lunch when I worked in advertising at Philly Weekly. It was a favorite of mine and my associate Rocco. We were the two old guys in the company. This is the place where I first met and fell in love with my muse for this blog, Maria. She was the inspiration for phicklephilly. She has a pretty long series. You can check out the first post here and decide if you want to go on.

Maria – Chapter 1 – Amor en Vano – Part I

I used to have all my meetings here at table 12. That was MY table. My friend Mary used to work here as a hostess. She’s got to be at least 75 years old now. She no longer works here. I should text her to make sure she hasn’t been taken by the Covid!

I brought my girlfriend Cherie here for her birthday a couple of years ago. Hell… that was the Fall of 2016! Time sure flies. You can check that out right here:

Cherie – Chapter 9 – Misconduct on your Birthday

So many good memories. I’m sitting there listening to some rock on my phone through my earbuds when a woman dressed in black wearing a mask approaches me. Oh my god, It’s Sabrina! She takes a seat and looks amazing. An ageless beauty! She orders a Cosmo and we catch up. She’s doing so well at her job. “I got my house, my kids, and this great job. Everything’s going so well.”

“I’m so proud of you, Sabrina. I knew you’d be a shining star. So, Danessa brings her a drink and off we go down memory lane. We ordered some delicious food. She went with the mac ‘n cheese, (Two different women over the last two days both ordered mac n’ cheese! Kismet!) I went with my favorite thing on the menu, the chicken tenders. (w/barbecue, honey mustard and buffalo dipping sauce!) Misconduct has the best chicken tenders in the city, They make then from scratch, Never frozen!

I hope phicklephilly isn’t turning into a food blog after all of this time in quarantine! It’s been a while for me, so for now, it’s all food and no romance for me yet!

We had a lovely couple of hours eating, chatting and sipping our delicious cocktails. It was a lovely post birthday brunch! This Leo is really feeling like a king this year. First James at the Drive In, then Iris at Lou Birds, now Sabrina at Misconduct! Too good for a man my age, but I feel great! I feel better and younger than I did in my thirties!

I was so happy to see Sabrina that I had to give her something. When we were finished brunch I handed her an envelope. I think she knew what was inside, based on the size and weight.

If anybody deserves a free copy from the author, Sabrina does. She’s been a friend and fan since 2017! She was really happy about getting a copy of Angel.

“Do you want me to sign it?”

“Yes!”

Of course I whipped out my black sharpie that I always carry for such events. I wrote her a nice little note and autographed the book. It felt really good to sign my work and give it to a friend who really cares, and will read it. The pleasure was all mine!

When the server Danessa came by, Sabrina held up the book to her. “Look at this. My friend Charles here wrote this book. He’s a writer!”

“Wow. That’s awesome!”

(I have to admit, I totally loved that moment. I felt like Hank Moody.)

The check came, and she wouldn’t even let me kick in.

“No. It’s your birthday, I got this!”

“Well, I can’t argue with that.”

We gathered our things and I walked her to her car. To my surprise it was a midnight blue Cadillac. Wow, our girl Sabrina is really doing well for herself. She gave me a hug, (masks on!) and she got in her car. She said she’d like to get together for lunch soon. I told her I’d be happy to travel down to the waterfront and dine with her anytime.

Well, it looks like phicklephilly is back in full force on the social scene and I couldn’t be happier! This has been a helluva great birthday thanks to all of the wonderful people in my life!

Thank you one and all! You’re keeping me young!

 

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!

 

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

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Iris – Happy Birthday, Papa Squirrel

You can read Tuesday’s post about Iris here:

https://phicklephilly.com/?p=65472

I woke up on Sunday. It was my 58th birthday. I was alone.

I knew I’d be alone, because I was supposed to have dinner with my friend Sabrina but she was having car troubles and couldn’t get down here. I’ll be writing about her in an upcoming post. Sabrina has several chapters from a couple of years ago. You can search for her in the Search bar and you can read them all. Interesting stuff. But we’ll get to her next week.

My daughter had left me a card in a sealed envelope and a candle before she left for the weekend to go to a music festival with her boyfriend. She left the envelope on Thursday night before she left and I told her I wouldn’t open it until Sunday. I did wait and there was a lovely gift and sentiment from her. I’m surprised and grateful! Thank you Lorelei!

Before she left, she said that Iris had left something here and that she may swing by over the weekend to pick it up. She told me she had given my cell to Iris and I may be getting a call or a text, if or when she was going to come get the article.

“I told Iris I was leaving Friday to go away with Neil, so she knows that if she didn’t come early I’d be gone and she could maybe get it this weekend from you.”

“I’ll be here. I’m not going anywhere.”

I went to my favorite breakfast spot and picked up my bacon, egg and cheese sandwich and headed back home. I just figured I’d spend another quiet day at home working on my next book, Below the Wheel.

Frankly, I was amazed at the outpouring of love in the form of texts and messages on social media. Family, friends, former band mates from two different bands, former co-workers… it was amazing. You know, you get older and are locked up for four months and you think you’re basically forgotten by everyone. But apparently not yet. I’m really grateful for all the birthday wishes I got from so many. Thank you! I was trying to write a piece about a bar band I loved as a teen and was interrupted so many times from well wishers I simply gave up writing it. (If you’re reading this, it’s already been published and it kicks ass!)

The Dead End Kids

At some point early in the afternoon I was doing what I do everyday. Typing away. It’s a grind, but these books aren’t going to write themselves. I got a text on Instagram from Iris. “I’m coming to Philly today. I left my wax there, so I might stop by to pick it up and say hello to my Faja!!”

“Please do. Lorelei told me she gave you my cell and that you may be swinging by.”

“Yay!”

There was some more chatter and somehow the subject of fruit came up. She went on to explain to me that banana flavoring is lost to world now. “The original bananas grown back in the day taste totally different than the GMO produced now.”

“Really? Like real bananas don’t taste like the bananas from 40 years ago?”

“We used to get our bananas from Central America and South America but there’s a certain type of disease that prevented them from shipping successfully so they grew something called a Cavendish which is a type of banana strain resistant to the Panama disease.”

“Mind. Blown.”

“When I learned this, my heart broke. All faith in humanity disappeared.”

“I love bananas, but now it’s got me thinking. Anyway, how are you getting to Philly?”

“I’m going to Uber. I got some credits.”

Wanna go somewhere and get food?”

“Yea!! I can just Uber to you and have my friend pick me up after you and I eat! She’s cleaning her place and whatnot since her man child left for a week to go to Texas for some stupid social media influencer garbage lol.”

“Okay. Sounds good. When are you coming?”

I’m ordering an Uber now!”

So some time later Iris arrives at the Squirrel House as planned. She got stuck outside at first because in the hot weather the front door swells and is hard to open. I run downstairs and let her in. I’m happy to see her.

When we get up to the apartment she drops the bag she packed, because I’m assuming she’s staying over at her friend Allie’s house for the next couple of days. We get ready and head out. Since it’s my birthday, I’m happy I have someone to celebrate it with. The last good birthday I had was when two of my friends set up a little party for me at the Ritz Carlton a few years ago.

Since this was our very first outing together I wanted it to be special, so I suggested we go to Parc for brunch. It’s one of the nicest restaurants in the city and everybody goes there to see and be seen. We get there and I ask the hostess what the wait is. They tell me an hour and a half. Screw that. I hate Parc anyway and all the people who go there. Iris heard some older woman make some sort of a sugar daddy comment. I didn’t hear it, But Iris told me. As we walked away from the place I told her about how Parc, Devon and especially Rouge, (Three restaurants in a row on Rittenhouse square) are all notorious for sugar babies and pros. I told her how an any given night you can see a guy 10 to 20 years older than me sitting at one of the outside tables with someone he obviously paid for. It’s kind of pathetic. Men with real game don’t need to pay for companionship. Companions find them and want their presence. (Thank you, father.)

We’re walking and I’m doing my nervous talking things and telling her some story about wherever we are. I think it was about on of my ex-girlfriends, Annabelle. We happened to be walking by what was once the bar where she worked and where I had met her. But I digress…

I suggest my new hangout, Lou Birds. Iris is down for that and off we go. We walk through the park and it’s a lovely day to be out. I’m happy my birthday has taken this unexpected yet pleasant turn.

We get there and there’s plenty of tables. She lets me pick and I go for the one all the way down on the end in the shade. Incidentally, it’s the table I sat at alone when I finished writing Angel with a Broken Wing. I had my celebratory Manhattan at that very table for the very first time after two and a half months of quarantine.

Our girl Jade the server swings by, (I guess Sarah had the day off) and brings to cups and a big bottle of water. I love that. Gotta stay hydrated on a hot day in August especially when you’re going to have a drink or two. She offers us a choice of several beverages but mentions they have a couple of frozen specials, so Iris goes with the Froze’ (Think, Rose’ wine slurpee) and I go with the lemon and vodka frozen drink.

A cool thing that has risen out of the pandemic is the elimination of paper menus. There is a barcode thingee stuck to the corner of the tabletop. Iris instructs me on how to simply open the camera on my phone, and hold it over the thing. The menu appears in my phone like magic! I think that’s so cool! Technology!

I haven’t had a burger in over five months, so I go with a bacon cheeseburger with fries. They even put an onion ring on that bad boy! Iris went with the lobster mac ‘n cheese. Good call, lady!

Delish! She let me try a spoonful of her mac and of course I let her take a queen sized bite out of my burger. The food’s great! That’s the first time I’ve ever eaten there. Well done, Lou Bird’s! Iris took all the food porn photos and a few selfies to document the event.

We loved our brunch and the conversation was lively. You never know how these things will go, but it was a lovely afternoon. We even ordered another round, and she tried the lemon vodka thing I had and she loved it!

So despite the warnings from my comrades who aren’t parents, I was right along. Something is only weird or wrong in the minds of others. I’ve never let other people’s hangups or fear direct my will. Why change now? If you’re not doing anything wrong and your heart’s pure, you have nothing to worry about. If somebody doesn’t like it or thinks it’s wrong, that’s their trip, not mine. I knew everything would be fine with me spending time with my adopted squirrel!

Iris is a lovely young woman and full of life. She has a great mind and a razor sharp sense of humor. I can see why my daughter loves her. Simply put… Iris rocks.

I paid the bill and was happy to do so. (She kicked in for the tip!) I was honored that Iris chose to spend the afternoon with me.

We headed back to the house and she got her stuff together. We just chilled for a bit to cool off in the A/C but she had to get going and meet with her friend, who was probably waiting for her.

I bid this fair maiden farewell and wished her safe passage on her next adventure. She made my birthday extra special and perfect. What began as a quiet day alone became an afternoon of fun, frolic and frivolity!

Thank you Iris for making my birthday great! See you soon.

 

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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So That’s Why They’re Called Hookers!

Workers in the world’s oldest profession have been called many things, but why hookers? Source: (history.com)
There are a surprising number of nicknames for the oldest profession in the world—call girls, streetwalkers, strumpets, ladies of the night—but the term you’ve probably heard the most is “hooker.” Unlike other terms, however, it is not easy to see how the euphemism connects to the activity. How exactly does sex work relate to hooks? Whatever it is, it sounds painful. On the contrary, however, it all goes back to a Civil War major, a rowdy New York seaport, and medieval pickpockets.

Major General Joseph Fighting Joe Hooker was a Union general who liked to have a good time. Source: (professorbuzzkill.com)

THE FRAT BOY GENERAL

In the early days of the American Civil War, the Union Army was led by Major General Joseph Hooker, who earned the nickname “Fighting Joe.” Hooker may have had commanding skills as a military leader, but his camp was in somewhat more disarray. Drinking, partying, and all-around debauchery was rampant under Hooker’s command. This type of behavior eventually led to Fighting Joe’s demotion, as his men were often too drunk, hungover, or sleep-deprived to be effective soldiers. After a few costly defeats, Hooker was replaced as leader of the Army of the Potomac.

The ladies of ill repute who followed the soldiers from camp to camp were called Hooker’s Division. Source: (photo by: bildagentur-online/uig via Getty Images)

HOOKER’S DIVISION

A common sight in Hooker’s camp, alongside the discarded vessels of liquor, were large numbers of prostitutes hoping to earn a few coins by keeping the lonely soldiers happy. Although there is no hard evidence to prove that Fighting Joe enjoyed the company of these “fallen doves” himself, he definitely allowed his men to partake of their services. The prostitutes who followed the troops from camp to camp were referred to as “Hooker’s Division.” Though it’s doubtful that this phenomenon alone is responsible for the term, it was a coincidence that certainly helped to spread it. A more likely origin point is …

This well positioned point on Manhattan’s Lower East Side was once called Corlear’s Hook. Source: (en.wikipedia.org)

A ROWDY SEAPORT: THE “RESORT FOR THE LEWD”

Another story claims that the word refers to a place, not a person. In New York’s Lower East Side is a point of land that juts into the East River that was known as early as the 1600s as Corlear’s Hook after an early plantation owner, Jacobus von Corlear. The man, by all accounts, was an upstanding fellow. His land, however, was a prime location for seafaring activities around the island of Manhattan.

Grover Cleveland frowned upon the large concentration of brothels in New York City. Source: (vox.com)

NEW YORK’S MOST NOTORIOUS RED LIGHT DISTRICT

By the turn of the 19th century, Corlear’s Hook was home to shipbuilders and a naval yard, and the influx of sailors to the area brought troves of business-minded women seeking to cater to their needs. Within a few decades, Corlear’s Hook was New York City’s most infamous red light district, boasting more than 85 brothels. One newspaper of the time wrote that the areas was “a resort for the lewd and abandoned of both sexes with its streets abounding every night with preconcerted groups of thieves and prostitutes.” The most notorious residents of Corlear’s Hook became known as “hookers.”

Medieval prostitutes often banded together to pick the pockets of their johns. Source: (daily.jstor.org)

MEDIEVAL PICKPOCKETS AND RIFF RAFF

Most of the prostitutes in the medieval era had particular sets of skills. In addition to the tricks of the trade, they were also petty criminals and pickpockets, and they were just as creative in this endeavor as they presumably were in their primary occupation. They used long poles with hooks on the end to snatch purses, satchels, and other valuables from their unsuspecting victims. It was often a collaborative effort, with one team member keeping the victim occupied while another used the hook to steal away his coin purse. The obvious nickname for this half of the team was hooker. Soon, the word “hooker” was just synonymous with “prostitute,” which must have been very annoying to the more pedantic members of the trade.

A hooker from the 1800s. Source: (bu.edu)

A HOOKER BY ANY OTHER NAME

“Hooker” is still a common term for a sex worker, but many bristle at it. Although the lines are somewhat blurry, there’s a definite hierarchy in the trade, and each rung has its own preferred terminology. The word “prostitute” itself is rather clinical. A “call girl” implies a high-end sex worker. A “lady of the evening” has a slightly old-fashioned and even romanticized connotation, while “streetwalker” conjures images of a desperate woman who has turned to the oldest profession due to unfortunate circumstances. But a hooker … now that implies a person belonging on the lowest rung of the hierarchy. It is a name associated with the loose women that frequented the Civil War camps, the soiled doves of the shipyards of New York, and the wicked thieves of medieval England. No, thanks.

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!

 

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

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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James – At The Drive In

A few days before my birthday, I get a text from James. “What are you doing tomorrow at 6pm?”

Of course I’m doing nothing but working on my new book, Below the Wheel. Just like everyday. “I’m free, dude. What’s going on?”

“Just be ready.”

I think I know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I’m super excited.

It was the Thursday before my birthday. James rolls up to my house at 6pm. I hop in the car and we’re off to parts unknown. (Known!) He drives his Kia Soul over the Walt Whitman bridge over to Jersey. Traffic is light and we’re making great time. It’s another rare, cool night during this heatwave. We drive down to Vineland, NJ. He’s got his navigation on and we get to our destination in no time. Plus, we’re always chatting up a storm so time flies by.  We’re both hungry and we decide to stop at a Wawa that’s nearby. We ordered some sandwiches, snacks and drinks and were back in the car in no time. We head down a long road and come upon this.

The Delsea Drive In is still a thing! OMG! I haven’t been to a drive in movie in 35 years!

https://www.delseadrive-in.com/

James had gone online, found the place, bought tickets, and a food pass. If you buy a food pass that gives you the right to bring in your own food from outside. Back in the 80’s when I used to go to the drive in in Rio Grande, NJ we never brought our own food in, but we certainly brought beer in! Like myself, James is a great planner. Behind my seat in the car is a cooler loaded with beer and spiked seltzers. (Yes!) I didn’t know what to expect but we pulled in and handed the necessary paperwork to the nice lady manning the ticket booth, and we drove on in.

It was early, and the show wouldn’t start until it got dark. We had some time to get parked in a good spot and get the lay of the land. It’s a great drive in movie theater. There are two screens playing different movies. Screen 1 is movies geared to grown ups and screen 2 is for families and kids. Which is great because then you know going into it, all of the noisy kids would be a hundred yards away at a different park facing the other way.

We devour our sandwiches, and are happy to have arrived safely without incident. There were a few vehicles around but they weren’t near us. Of course there were a lot of rules. Everybody must wear masks, if you want anything from the snack bar you have to order it online using your phone, and then go get in line to pick it up. Also, if you brought beach chairs you have to set them up in front of your vehicle, not next to your vehicle. Social distancing, people!

I tell James that I brought a small flask of bourbon and some party favors. (weed) Neither of us drank any whiskey or smoked pot deciding we weren’t there to get messed up. Especially since he was driving. I just brought it in case he wanted a little nip or a puff or two just to enhance the experience. But we decided against it. Didn’t need it. My daughter Lorelei had rolled a custom fatty for him, and I ended up giving it to him as a gift at the end of the night for…later!

I noticed that most of the vehicles that were there were sport utility vehicles. I forgot how popular they were. There are more sedans in the city, but in rural Jersey, it seems like everybody drives SUVs. I also noticed that most people backed their SUV’s or pick up trucks into their spots. They’d open the back hatch and sit on the edge of the bed, or sit in the bed of their pick up trucks. It was mostly groups of young people, couples, or parents with teenage kids.

Things haven’t changed much in regard to the drive in movie experience. The metal poles are still in the ground that once held the little drive in movie speakers you’d affix to your car window to hear the film’s audio track. The old metal weather resistant speakers are long gone. Now the metal poles only serve as markers as to where to park in this elegant anachronism.

Baby Boomer Memory Lane: Those Drive-In Movie Speakers

You now tune your FM radio to 90.5 and the sound comes through that way. It’s actually so much better because James has a thunderous sound system in his car. Thank you technology!

Darkness began to descend on the drive in. I was excited to feel what I once felt as a youth at the drive in. It was a cool night, so we sat with the windows down. There were happily no bugs. Mosquitoes can ruin any night out in the country. But as i sat there in his car I let myself lean into the experience. It was quiet. People were chill and the place wasn’t that crowded. More vehicles entered the park as showtime approached.

It was exhilarating to sit comfortably in the safety of my friend’s car. The place is surrounded by woods, so all you can see is night sky and trees all around you. Living in the city I am surrounded by glass, stone and steel all the time. Everyday I am surrounded by the city’s sounds and presence. But here was so different, especially after being locked in quarantine for four months. Now I was parked quietly in a park surrounded by nature. All I could hear were the sound of crickets, then the chirp of frogs and the occasional call of a bird. It was lovely and peaceful.

When the movie started, James handed me a cold one from the cooler. As I sipped my beer and puffed on my Juul, I felt a sense of bliss wash over me. That feeling is rare, but I love that feeling. I think we all do. When you’re someplace different, but you feel safe, with your friend and a movie about to start on a giant screen in the woods. It’s a wonderful feeling. Bliss.

It didn’t even matter at this point what movie was playing. Oh, drive in movies always show double features which I dig. I feel like I’m getting more of the thing I love. I wanted to get some bad drive in movie food, but the idea of ordering online and having to stand in line outside to wait for it just didn’t seem like a good idea to me. Besides, my belly was full from our Wawa dinner.

The first film was called The Rental, and was typical drive in movie trash. The second one was called, She Dies Tomorrow, which felt like a student art film. Both trash, but that’s what’s expected at the Drive in. I want bad cinema. Something light, scary and fun. It’s easy to follow and it’s all part of the experience. There’s even an intermission between each picture so you can get out, stretch your legs and hit the head. It brought back so many great memories from my past adventures. But I was so happy to be making new ones with my friend, James. Someone who would appreciate the drive in experience and enjoy it as much as me.

Snack bar and projection booth on the second floor.

Playing on the other screen was Shrek and the new Doctor Doolittle, starring Robert Downey Jr. James saw it before and he told me it is unwatchable! Ha ha.

It was a great night and brought back so many great memories. It wasn’t my actual birthday yet, but it certainly felt like it. I’m so grateful to have James in my life. He’s a good friend and knows what i like. I’m so glad I could revisit this lost piece of Americana with him. I get the memories and he gets a new experience that we got to build together.

Thank you James! You made my birthday awesome!

 

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!

 

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

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Wildwood Daze – The Dead End Kids

“The greatest, and most beloved bar band ever.”

Spring, 1980 – Wildwood, New Jersey

The family had been moved to our house in North Wildwood in the summer of 1979. My sister Janice had graduated from Frankford High in Philly and was off to college in the fall. The rest of us enjoyed the summer and I was enrolled in Wildwood High for my senior year. I could write a whole blog about that painful transition, but that’s not what this piece is about.

You can read about that here:

Wildwood Daze – Summer of 1979 – Moving the Family to North Wildwood

Wildwood Daze – Autumn of 1979 – Shadows Fall

In the Spring of 1980 I was walking to school with my best friend Wolfie. We called him that because the way he combed his hair back, the drummer in our band said he looked like Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolfman. Wolfie was the lead guitarist and an accomplished player. But more than that he was an enduring friend.

We were walking to school, I think it was June. We were down on Pacific Avenue and one morning we saw this guy. He was on the other side of the street and looked like a scruffy skinny rock star. But it was 8am in the morning. We were on our way to school and he was coming home from who knows where.

“That dude looks like Steven Tyler.”

“He does!”

So I decide to yell over to him. “Hey, Steven Tyler!”

The guy replies: “No. Dead End Kids.”

We had no idea who he was or what the dead end kids meant. We would occasionally see him on our way to school.

One night early that summer my sister Janice had come home from a night out with her friend Louise. She was a year older than me and the drinking age back then was 18 in Jersey. (I know, right?) They loved going out in the late 70’s to dance in the clubs. Disco was all the rage back then. (Much to my chagrin)

“How was you night out? Where did you guys go? I know the Fairview’s your favorite.”

“Yea, we went to the Fairview but didn’t stick around. They changed the place. There’s some punky band playing there now, so we have to find some other place to dance.”

Yea… she described them as punky.

So one night later that week, my friend Wolfie and I decided to check out the scene on Pacific avenue. The street had nightclubs and bars on every corner. We were in a band so we liked to check out other bands that were playing in the bars on the strip. Oh, Wolfie was 15 or 16 years old and I was 17 going on 18. We both carried fake ID’s but Wolfie rarely got carded because he looked older than me.

The London Ale House was a nice place to have lunch or dinner. It was the first bar/restaurant on the strip around Poplar avenue. The best band on the island played there at night. I guess they would clear out the tables and make space for the folks to come in and watch the band. That band was called Witness. All great musicians. I remember the singer was Billy Spence, a great singer and showman. The other personality that stands out in my memory was the lead guitarist, Steelman. Everybody loved Witness because they played, Springsteen, Billy Joel and Jethro Tull among other popular hits of the day. They were a spectacular cover band that was so good, they actually expanded the London Ale House to accommodate the crowds that would come to see them each night. They not only played great but put on an amazing show that was funny as well as entertaining, performing spot on renditions of many great hits in the top 40. They would go to Florida in the winter and play down there and then come back every summer to jam in Wildwood.

But we were looking for something new. We headed downtown on that warm summer night. The street alive with all of the sights and sounds of a typical evening at the shore. We came upon the Fairview and decided to check out the ‘punky’ band my sister had mentioned. The smell of stale beer and cigarettes hangs in the air. But something is definitely happening here. Something new.

I can’t find any good pictures online so you’ll have to settle for this sorry looking photo.

On Avenue with Many Closings, Nightclub Owner Plans Reopening ...

Wait! Just found this one from an old photo album I was looking through!

1980

We get inside and it’s going. It was still early so the place wasn’t packed yet. The band is rocking out on stage. The Dead End Kids. 

Let me attempt to describe what was happening. First of all, Wolfie and me are in a band. We rock out, but we’re in high school. We’ve played some gigs and we’re a good band.

But these guys are rockstars. I don’t use that word lightly. People describe people doing their job at work or some other dumb shit as being a rockstar. Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, The Rolling Stones. They’re rockstars. Kelly James and George Rumbol of the Dead End Kids are Rockstars.

They play ferocious rough house rock, with all the spit, sweat, and attitude of the greats. They’re playing on this stage tonight like their lives depend on it. Sure the singer, the bass player and the drummer are all fine musicians, but Kelly and George ARE The Dead End Kids. They are living this life. I can see it. I can feel it in the first few minutes of seeing them play live. I want you to understand what I’m seeing and hearing. They rock hard and wear cool outfits, and look like they’re already at the next level.

The band Cinderella stole their act. The Dead End Kids were Motley Crue… before there was a Motley Crue.

There is nothing like this anywhere. They’ve replaced their guitar straps with seat belts from old cars. Why? Because the material is durable and slick. Why would you want that? So you can flip your guitar around your body. Literally fling it from the headstock so that it spins around your body and then you catch it, and keep playing. Original and incredible showmanship. I had never seen anything like it.

They played Wasted by a band no one had even heard of yet. That band had one record out. That band was called Def Leppard. They played Midnight Moses by the Alex Harvey Band. I had never heard of it before. It was spectacular. The band Dead Daisies does the song justice now.

The Dead End Kids are burning down the stage. George puts on a Bowie show that is so good, if you closed your eyes, it was as if David himself was there playing with some kick ass hard rock band. heir version of Moonage Daydream better than Bowie’s! I’ve never seen anything like it. We’re a couple of teenagers. These are men. Men who make kick ass rock and roll. Shit kickin’ hard rock.

Rough House Rock!

I had the opportunity to chat with Kelly at the bar one night. I told him about our band and how I was focusing my energy on writing original songs. Kelly advised me that I was on the right path. “Keep writing your originals, man. That’s what’ll set you apart from other bands. Sure, you gotta play the covers to get paid, but the real future is in original songs.”

“Thank you Kelly James!”

(These newspaper clippings from the Wildwood Leader are framed and hang on my wall)

Seeing the Dead End Kids play on a regular basis was like going to church for me as a young musician. I loved them and everything they did. It solidified the idea that I needed to go to California and try to become like them.

One night I was down front with Wolfie and we were rocking out to the kings. We were both half in the bag from pounding dollar Miller beers. These two older hot girls came up to us and started hanging with us. One was a blonde and the other had raven hair. We asked them their names.

“I’m Trigger, and this is Flash.”

“Do you girls turn back into horses at dawn?”

We totally made out with them that night. Kelly looked on from the stage nodding with approval.

We went to see them all summer long at the Fairview, and at The Hurricane East in 1981. Those were unforgettable times. I’ll never forget those guys.

Image may contain: 1 person, night

Years later, when I was married in the 1990’s I saw Kelly and George playing in a small bar in Westville, NJ as the Dead End Kids. I went to see them that night wearing my old Dead End Kids T-Shirt. I brought my guitar and they even let me come onstage and play one song with them.

Some wonderful wishes are actually granted.

I will always love The Dead End Kids and those incredible summers in Wildwood growing up. It was the perfect life. None of us even probably realized that we were living the very best times of our young lives. Summer days filled with fun in the sun and surf, but the nights were reserved for Things that go Rock in the Night.

Thank you gentleman. Thank you for the joy you brought to me and to so many other people during that magical window of time that only opens once… but closes forever.

Here’s some videos I found online. Enjoy!

 

Kelly James update 5/12/18…..

Well folks I hate to be the one to deliver the bad news but the Neurosurgeon just informed Kelly James that it is indeed cancer and is spread through out his entire body including his bones….started as lung cancer and spread….They may discharge him monday…Chemo is the plan for him. Please continue to pray for a miracle… Kelly is of course a much beloved guitarist from the legendary band “Dead End Kids“. Please send your prayers, and love out to Kelly, as well as his original band members Bill Mattson and Georgie Rumbol

Join The Group Here: Kelly James We Love You
Kelly James is battling an aggressive cancer throughout his body. Please join the group, and tell Kelly how much he’s loved, and respected. Kelly needs our support. Kelly is of course a much beloved guitarist from the legendary band “Dead End Kids”

*This was a post that Kelly’s good friend Shawn Cahill (Lickey Rifferson) posted….

Ray Koob – Jacky BamBam – Mike Vagnoni – Jeff LaBar

Image may contain: 1 person
Sadly, we lost Kelly James a month later. Rest in Power, my friend…
Long Live the King!

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!

 

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

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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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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