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!

 

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

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

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…

 

 

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

My Father’s Chair

It was 1984. I worked in a video store in Northfield, New Jersey.

I was back from California. I failed as a musician in Los Angeles. The angel that rose up in Philly in 1979 as a singer, then a guitarist in Wildwood was cast asunder. It was over. I was back in Wildwood. The place I left in 1982 that I never wanted to return to I sadly came home to. I was back living in my parents house. The first of many failures in my short life. Like Icarus who flew too high, my wings melted and I fell back to the Earth.

Making the transition to being back at home with my parents was brutal. I remember at first I was welcome, but in time my father was filled with disdain for me. Why hadn’t I ever written a letter to my mother while I was away? I don’t know. Maybe I was too busy having the time of my life for a few years without any of you. I learned about life, and how to cook and look after myself. All the while struggling with severe anxiety and depression.

My father got me a job in a video store. It was one of his accounts at the bank. He knew the principals of Home Video Centers in Northfield and Vineland. It wasn’t a little mom and pop video store that used to exist back in the 80’s. It was a massive store, with 500 titles on VHS and Beta and all of the other things you needed to have your own home movie experience. (Does anybody remember rear projection big screen TVs? What an abortion of an idea that was.)

I was hired as a salesman. I remember when I got my first business cards. It felt good. But I used the name Chaz, and my father didn’t like that. I should have my proper name on my cards. Now it feels like my father might have been part Asian based on the amount of shame in my life growing up. (No offense to the Asian culture, but it is a patriarchal society, and honor and respect are paramount. Hence, much of their porn, like Germany is all about shame and humiliation) But I digress…

I liked the job and the people I worked with and for. We were all a bunch of young guys and girls working in a relatively new retail industry. We had the massive rental business, but also sold VCRs, TVs and video cameras. When I think about it now, the technology was so heavy and clunky back then. Massive machines that weighed a ton. Video cameras that almost seemed absurd, because of all of the gear you had to carry just to make a video of your family at some outing. When I think of all of the set up my father did a decade before all of that when I was a kid to shoot home movies on 8mm, super 8, and eventually 16mm, it boggles my mind.

Now it’s all in our phones. Not much bigger than a deck of cards in our pocket. You can do all of that and better now. Better technology but the content hasn’t really changed. You can just stream it now.

I remembered I saved up for my own VCR. I wanted to take movies home from work and watch them for free. I loved movies. My father taught me about film as a young lad. He even dabbled in making his own creative films for  awhile when I was a kid. I’ll tell those stories in a future post.

I loved movies, and having grown up in an age where you could only watch what was on TV at a specific time or go to a movie theater. So home video was king to me. Now I could take a movie home and watch it when I wanted.

So I purchased a used, refurbished Sanyo Betamax top loader VCR from my company for about $300 which was a fortune back then. Maybe it was $250 but who knows? But I thought it was cheap for what I got. I didn’t care. I was so happy to bring it home and attach it to my little 13 inch Sony TV in my bedroom and watch all the movies I was dying to see as a kid. They were all mine now! I had the keys to the kingdom.

There were two formats back then. Beta and VHS. Sony invented both formats. But Beta was the better format. Better picture and sound. They kept the superior format for themselves and sold it to who they wanted, mostly other Asian electronics companies. Sanyo, NEC, etc. They sold the VHS format off to I think RCA or Sylvania. I actually have no idea. But what happened was, more companies made the VHS systems. VHS machines were more accessible to the general public and the inferior system actually won as the victor of what people watched movies on. Beta died. It was sad to see the superior format lose to the inferior format. But there is simply strength in numbers. Those sort of statistics hold up today. If you have enough money and guys, you can crush you competitor. I’m sure Sony didn’t really care because they probably made all of their money back on patents. (And now look at them!)

Anyway, my dad would ask me about some of the films we had at the store. (video rentals) He would ask if we had specific films and wondered if I could maybe bring them home and we could watch them together.

I leapt at this idea, because for most of my life with my father things were strained. Here was an opportunity for us to hang out on neutral ground, and do something together that we both loved.

I don’t remember what the first film was that I brought home. Maybe 3 Days of the Condor, Straw Dogs, or Kelly’s Heroes. My dad would give me a list and I would let him know what was on tape. He would always pick them because he had a history of films in his head that surpassed my brief life. He would pick these amazing films that I would never have known about without him even thought of.  I worked in the store with 500 titles but there were so many great films now on tape that had been silent for years. Video tape brought them all back to life. It was an exciting time. The humble beginnings of all access, all the time, that we enjoy today.

Let me tell you what it was like.

I would come home from work at the video store with a film. He had already set up the night we were going to watch it.

Now let me give you the lay of the land here.

We had this giant house at the shore. My dad had this cool space that was his upstairs in the front of the house. This was his man cave long before man caves were a thing. This space worked for him, because he could have his own little world in there.

This is a guy who worked his whole life to build a life for his family. He worked in a bank as a manager, had four kids; three daughters and one son. His wife never worked and was a full time homemaker. Yea, things were different back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. But the man needed his space and he built the shore house to create his own little private space there. In our old house in Philly, the basement was his space.

He loved Christmas so much he would have his own tree up there in the apartment. Yes… he would buy two really good Frazier Fir trees and one would be the family Christmas tree downstairs and he would have his own tree up in his little lair. He even ran a string of mini lights down the hallway. So basically upstairs was always Christmas in our house. Not weird, just his happy thing.

So, I would come home and we’d set up our night. I would set up a little TV snack table next to his television. I would carry my VCR from my bedroom and wire it up to his TV.

Let me describe my dad’s cave. He had a living room. a bedroom with an attached bathroom and a kitchen with ocean views. Amazing space. He even had a Franklin stove in the corner of the living room. I always wondered why he had that, and then one time the power went off during a storm and he tossed some wood in that thing and it heated the whole second floor of the house. Genius.

So, we’ve got everything set up, and I would sit at his kitchen table and chat with him while he cooked a special dinner for the two of us. I would drink a beer and so would he. Normally we both liked light crisp lagers or pilsners. He would give me a little fresh bread to munch on but not too much because you never want to eat to much before dinner, because you never want to spoil your appetite!

The windows would be open and the fragrance from the sea would waft in. The air is just so fresh and cool by the sea. I love living in the city but there is nothing like it.

He would get a head of fresh lettuce and cut it up. Simple. That was the salad. just lettuce. He would mix and make his own Russian dressing. Thousand Island? Is that ketchup and mayo?  Whatever it was… it was delish. I was with my dad having a beer and noshing on french bread and for once… he wasn’t mad at me.

He had bought two fresh Delmonico steaks. Bone in. Apparently if the bone is in, the meat is sweeter and more savory, because the marrow in the bone lends itself to the flavor. There is nothing in the world like an amazing steak. My daughter is vegan and I respect that, but there is nothing on Earth like men ripping into grilled steak and devouring the fired flesh of those who would devour us if we weren’t such killers. Hell bent on being number one on the food chain to the point where we kill so much we are no longer in the food chain… but again, I digress…

He would have these inch and a half thick delicious steaks. He would put them in the broiler in his oven and cook them there. I know before he put them in he did something with some secret seasoning that include garlic and some other potions not revealed to me. While the steaks were cooking, and it didn’t take long, I would go quiet. I don’t like anyone talking to me when I’m cooking, so I knew my father needed silence to make his food art for us.

Halfway through, he would slide out the tray, and reach for two shots of Remy Martin cognac he had sitting on the counter. He would douse both steaks with a flash of brandy, and they would both ignite in flames as he pushed them back into the broiler. He told me that this would sear in the juices and glaze the outside or something. (It worked!)

I always wanted this part to go on longer than it ever did. I liked sitting peacefully in my father’s kitchen just chatting with him. We talked about everything. Work, life, music, films, girls, everything. Whatever was going on in the moment we would cover. But as some of you know, when it comes to steak, your window for chatter before dinner is always fleeting.

We would sit at his table and eat the steaks and the little brown bowls of salad. He said that we shouldn’t have a potato because he wanted the focus of the meal to be on the meat. He was completely right. They were some of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten. They were cooked to perfection, and I loved every bite. He always served an amazing cabernet with every meal. But more than that, my father and I were sharing one of the oldest rituals in history.

We’d put on some cool classical dinner music. My dad was a master of classical music and opera. He owned so much of that and loved it so much. I think he heard his own passion, pain and triumph in that music.

A father and son breaking bread together. Like in times of old, the father sharing the day’s kill with his only son. He would tell me stories that were only for me. Tales that were only for men. Things and deeds that my sisters or my mother could never hear.

I felt so close to him then.

After dinner, we would retire to the living room. I would fire up the Sanyo top loader and the film would begin. I’d make whatever adjustments were necessary so that the film would play properly, and off we’d go. (Does anybody remember tracking?)

For the next two hours we’d disappear together into the film. A world we could both control. Two completely different guys that somehow got thrown together in this life, and we got along. We found our thing.

He had a really nice padded wooden rocking chair in the room. He liked to sit in a hard chair as he called it, because it felt better on his back. So, I got to sit in his comfy rocking chair to watch the movie with him. I loved it!

There were times we’d both feel so much emotion that we’d both tear up a little bit during a movie. Terms of Endearment worked on both of our hearts! There were times he would reach over and grab my hand as we both felt the pain of the characters in the film. It meant so much to me that I was this connected to my father in this moment. Brought together by a film we both loved. I know whatever was happening on the screen was a feeling we had both felt in our own lives.  Even though we were sometimes worlds apart, we connected in that moment.

After the wine, we would  dabble in a bit of the cognac, and he would offer me a bit of bittersweet chocolate from Rauhauser’s Candies in Ocean City. It was the best damn candy in the world. The butter cremes were like kissing the face of god.

I remember during Straw Dogs one night I thought the snifter of cognac would burst in my hand from the suspense. My dad could really pick the films that rocked!

My father said that those were some of his fondest memories of me. He said for a brief time when I was between women in my life we spent some wonderful, simple times together.

I think maybe at some point my dad realized I was really different than him. I was more like his wife and her side of the family. I know I disappointed my father so many times. I’ll never know what it was like for him to grow up in the world he was born into. A world he never made, or could control. I can’t imagine the grinding frustration of his life with so much responsibility, all in the name of maybe finding peace of mind. That, and trying to build a family the only way he knew how from the ashes of his own fractured childhood.

 

At the end of his life, I convinced him to let me set up a Netflix account for him. There were so many films I wanted to share with him. After some reservations, he finally let me. We had a few years there where he let me to pick all of the movies and shows for him to watch.

So I guess it went full circle.

I’m grateful for all of our conversations about all of those great movies.

I think my dad found peace of mind eventually when he settled things with my mom and they both got along.  But I know once she was gone he lost some of himself.

I’ve been thinking about him lately, and felt compelled to write this.

I like when my dad occasionally taps on the window of my mind and asks me to let him in. He’s always welcome.

 

Thanks for letting me sit in your chair, Dad.

 

 

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

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!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

JUST DESSERTS Woman Finds Out Husband Is Having An Affair After Restaurant Critic’s Review Features An Image Of Him On A Date

Unless it is essential to know a partner’s sex, why bother?

A RESTAURANT critic appears to have unwittingly exposed an unfaithful husband after his wife read a review and recognized him in an accompanying photograph.

The wife took to the comments to thank food critic Tom Sietsema – who works for Washington Post – for exposing her husband’s cheating.

The husband was caught out after he appeared in a photo alongside the review

The husband was caught out after he appeared in a photo alongside the reviewCredit: Getty – Contributor

“Well Tom your latest review is accompanied by a picture of my husband dining with a woman who isn’t me!” she wrote on Tom’s column.

“Once confronted with photographic evidence, he confessed to having an ongoing affair.

“Just thought you’d be amused to hear of your part in the drama. This Thanksgiving I’m grateful to you for exposing a cheat!”

Tom appeared to be horrified at the comment and replied to say he hoped it was a “crank” post.

The woman left a comment on the review

“Please, please, please tell me this is a crank post,” he wrote.

“I’d hate to learn otherwise. I file two reviews a week, for Food and the Magazine, so I’m not sure which restaurant this is.”

Tom later shared the comment on his own Twitter account, explaining: “So, this popped up on my live online food chat today. Cheaters, take heed!”

Tom Sietsema

@tomsietsema

So, this popped up on my live online food chat today. Cheaters, take heed!

View image on Twitter

Others were utterly shocked, with one writing: “Does this mean the cheating husband is finally having his just desserts? Sorry, I couldn’t resist.”

While another said: “A former colleague of mine got similarly caught out.

“His wife was flicking through a holiday brochure and was stunned to see a pic of her husband poolside at an upscale Spanish resort with another woman. They divorced soon after.”

 

Out of Work Strippers Launch Boober Eats, the Topless Meal Delivery Service

With so many people staying home and avoiding the nightmare that is the supermarket at the moment, meal delivery services like Deliveroo and Uber Eats are exploding in popularity. But a new player is threatening to take a stranglehold on the market, and frankly, we aren’t complaining. Dancers at the Lucky Devil Lounge in Portland, Oregon have launched a new meal delivery service that combines the convenience of fast-food with the pizazz of a strip club. That’s right, Boober Eats might just be good old-fashioned American ingenuity at it’s thriftiest.

Out of Work Strippers Launch Boober Eats, the Topless Meal ...

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-CGrbGhjle

According to reports, once you order a meal online (generally pub grub and wings), Lucky Devil Lounge will get cooking immediately, dispatching two nearly-topless women in pasties to hand-out the goods. It all started as a joke on social media for Lucky Devil Lounge owner Shon Boulden, but after receiving hundreds of positive messages about the idea on St. Patrick’s Day, he decided to give it a shot.

“It’s crazy,” Boulden told the Oregonian. “We mutated our one business into a totally different style of business. All the calls, people are just giddy and fun. Sometimes it’s a surprise for someone, sometimes it’s a birthday, sometimes it’s people that are really stoned.”

While Boober Eats is a hilarious way to get in on the growing food delivery arena, Boulder’s initiative is actually doing a lot of good. About 25 of the original 80 Lucky Devil Lounge dancers are running Boober Eats deliveries after the club essentially shut down for patrons. What’s more, the strip club’s bouncers are also back to work, operating as drivers and security guards for the nearly topless delivery girls. If there’s one thing to be learned from the Boober Eats tale, it’s that amid a tireless tirade of negativity and despair, there are good stories everywhere.

God bless America.

Portland Gentlemen's Club Launches 'Boober Eats' Food Delivery Service

 

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

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Life Before Quarantine – Part 11

During quarantine I’ve been fairly productive. I get my energy from people but I really enjoy my alone time. My daughter agrees. We’re both perfectly happy being on our own. I was looking through some photos the other day and I got some great memories of when we were all allowed to come out and play. I thought I’d share some of them with you. I’ll run this series every week until I run out of photos! If you see yourself, hit me up!

I’m very fortunate to have met you all and enjoyed the times we had together. Thank you!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Life Before Quarantine – Part 9

During quarantine I’ve been fairly productive. I get my energy from people but I really enjoy my alone time. My daughter agrees. We’re both perfectly happy being on our own. I was looking through some photos the other day and I got some great memories of when we were all allowed to come out and play. I thought I’d share some of them with you. I’ll run this series every week until I run out of photos! If you see yourself, hit me up!

I’m very fortunate to have met you all and enjoyed the times we had together. Thank you!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly