A Tale Worth Repeating

 

At a hotel restaurant, I saw an attractive woman sitting alone at the next table.

Suddenly, she sneezed, and a glass eye comes flying out of her eye socket. It hurls by me and I snatched it from the air and handed it back to her.

“This is so embarrassing,” she said, as she popped her eye back into place. “I’m so sorry to disturb you. Let me pay for your dinner to make it up to you. May I join you?”

I nodded.

The woman was a stimulating conversationalist, a stunning, lovely woman, and I found that we had a lot in common.

I got her phone number and asked, “You’re the most charming woman I’ve ever encountered. Are you this nice to every man you meet?”

“No.” she replied. “You just happened to catch my eye.”

 

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Alcohol vs Marijuana

Having been an aficionado when it comes to alcohol and a person who now rarely drinks, I think I have a pretty good idea of the effects of alcohol. But in the last few years, I’ve begun to enjoy the benefits of marijuana.

They both have similarities but there are some distinct differences. When it comes to alcohol, it enters your system and sort of just rolls with how you’re feeling. If you’re happy, you get happier, if you’re sad it can sometimes cheer you up temporarily. Whatever emotion you’re feeling it kind of amplifies it. It enters your mind and you’re sort of seeing only one door. You kick it in and go through it.

But marijuana opens the mind. There are several doors you can go through. They’re all open. You can peek inside any room in your mind you want to and enter at your discretion and explore.

Alcohol loses the mind and tongue and sometimes you can power through anything and be somewhat creative. But after continued applications, you start to lose those abilities. It sledgehammers your talent and creative mind and you’re simply drunk. Not good.

On the other hand, if you smoke a little grass your mind opens up in several areas and you can come up with some cool stuff. Things are brighter, clearer, funnier, and just all-around better.

Alcohol is a depressant but in some people, it acts as a stimulant. Marijuana is a hallucinogen and reacts to the chemicals in your mind differently. Sometimes for the novice, it’s too much. You may become paranoid and that doesn’t feel good. If you are like me and suffer from anxiety and depression it will heighten your fears. But the cool thing about THC is it makes you uncomfortable with your thoughts sometimes, but when you think about it, it’s usually stuff you’re not dealing with or are afraid of in your sober life. When done correctly, you can identify what’s going on with you in your daily life, and on THC figure it out.

Alcohol just slaps a band-aid on it temporarily and makes all of your problems invisible. But as I said, it’s only temporary. The next day when you’re hungover, your issues are still there and you feel worse.

But if you take the positives from marijuana, and embrace that you really can have a lot of fun with them. Marijuana grows naturally in the wild and is simply dried and smoked in its natural state.

Booze is made from different elements but has to be fermented or distilled to make it alcoholic. So it’s something you have to manufacture to get high. Weed comes out of the ground ready to be used just the way it is. If I had to pick one over the other I would choose weed at this point. I used to love to drink lakes of chardonnay and oceans of vodka but no more. Booze is too hard on the body as you get older and can do a lot of damage to your organs. Weed, when done in moderation doesn’t hurt you at all. Your liver, kidneys, and brain are just fine.

I’m not saying to have a glass of wine here and there, but weed is SO much better for you than booze. I think edibles could have saved my father’s life in his final years. I offered but he declined. He had never faced his fears and mental issues to correct himself, and when he got into his 80s he started to lose it. He was in perfect health but his mind started to go. Not Alzheimer’s or any real ailment, just him sort of losing his will to live. It’s his life and he can do what he wants with it, but I think if he would have eaten some edibles, his appetite would have improved, (munchies!) and he would have slept better. I would have even done it with him to guide him through the mental process. I believe it could have extended his life and he wouldn’t have been such a handful that my older sister had to deal with.

I never liked weed and didn’t smoke it for years. From 1984 to 2013 I never touched the stuff. Didn’t like the way it made me feel and had zero interest. I instead drank my way through my life self medicating myself to bury the pain from my childhood and my life choices in general.

But once  I stepped away from booze, I found that a little toke now and then is not only pleasurable and feeds my creative mind, it’s way better for me.

Come on, has somebody high ever hit a cop? No. But plenty of drunk people have taken that risk. It’s just a better trip. I’m grateful that its finally become legal in so many places. Smoking weed makes people lazy, but I don’t think it’s a gateway drug or destroys families as alcohol does. Drunk people get out of control. Folks who are high just want to kick back, chill, listen to some music and eat some snacks.

Which one is better?

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Tales of Rock – Who’s Opening For Iron Butterfly?

Philadelphia, PA – the Late 60s

I remember as kids we’d sometimes hang out in the basement with my dad in the evening after dinner. He would teach us to read and also read the entire book, The Hobbit to us. It was amazing. We’d sit on the carpet in our sweaters and he’d read it with feeling and do all the voices. I envisioned Bilbo and Frodo and the ring.

I remember him telling me, “you can’t hide behind a ring.”

Learning to read and being exposed to the arts and literature at a young age put us far ahead of our peers in school. The fundamentals I learned have carried me through my life.

Of course, there was music. My parents loved music. My mom listened to Andy Williams while she was ironing upstairs and my dad would be listening to classical music, The Who, and opera in the basement.

The first time I ever heard The Beatles, (Meet The Beatles and Hard Days Night, come to mind) The Who’s, Tommy, Steppenwolf, and Jimi Hendrix, from the soundtrack of the film, Easy Rider,  David Clayton Thomas, Frank Sinatra, and Iron Butterfly all happened in our basement at our house in Lawndale.

My dad had some younger friends he’d met through the bank where he worked. They turned him on to some great music and also marijuana.

Iron Butterfly was from California and was a psychedelic rock band. Their most memorable song is In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. I loved listening to that song! 17 minutes of rock! I loved how it began as a traditional rock song and then went into two great guitar solos by a then-17-year-old, Erik Brann. Doug Ingle was the keyboard player and singer, Ron Bushy on drums, and Lee Dorman on bass. The song would then settle into a dark keyboard piece and then a cool drum solo. (Who didn’t bang that solo out on their desk in school as a kid?)

I also liked the 5 songs on the other side of the record. Especially, Most Anything That You Want, and Flowers and Beads. I would sit on one of the barstools and read all the liner notes on the back of the record jacket while listening. They were such a great band. I still listen to their songs today on YouTube and Spotify.

Iron Butterfly never really made it that big nationally or globally after that. But I think they were a major influence on many hard rock bands of the era. I think they would have sustained their career a bit longer had it not been for the arrival of a new band on the scene.

Iron Butterfly was headlining a show in California. A couple of little know acts opened the show and then the warm-up act came on to do their set before the headliner, Iron Butterfly.

The warm-up act went onstage and sonically burned down the stage. No one had ever seen anything like it. They were a blues-influenced rock band from England that supercharged the genre. The crowd went wild over the sound of this new band. The sheer ferocity of the music was overwhelming. The caterwauling by the flaxen-haired singer, the blistering solos of the guitarist and the rumble and thunder of the bass player, and the bombastic power of the drummer blew the audience away.

This band wasn’t psychedelic. They were feral.

Doug Ingle from Iron Butterfly stood backstage watching this band apply their craft to the frenzied crowd. He spoke with one of his friends about what was happening.

“My god. They’re incredible. We sound tame compared to them. How can we even go on after that set?”

“They’re an amazing band for sure.”

“Who the hell are those guys?”

“They’re the New Yardbirds. They call themselves… Led Zeppelin.”

And that was the beginning of the end for Iron Butterfly.

Jimmy Page had been known to be a thief in his early days in music. The story of their name goes back to a conversation someone was having with The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon. He said that Jimmy Page’s New Yardbirds would probably take off like a lead balloon.  Jimmy heard about this and decided to name his band Led Zeppelin,  with the word “Lead” spelled Led, so that stupid Americans wouldn’t pronounce it as “lead with a long E”. He liked the name because he wanted his band to be heavy but also light at the same time regarding their sound.

But I think he stole the idea for the name Led Zeppelin from Iron Butterfly. If you look at the liner notes on the back of Iron Butterfly’s record you’ll see that right at the beginning they break down what the name of their band means.

Iron – Symbolic of something “heavy” as in sound.

Butterfly – Light, appealing and versatile. An object that can be used freely in imagination.

I always liked when my father said it. “Iron Butterfly.” 

At this moment I can hear the tone in his words. The exact sound of his voice. He sort of held the word butterfly as if he had caught that beauty in his net.

Then he’d put the record on and I’d live the next 17 minutes enthralled as I spun on the chair in our basement in Lawndale. The sound of eerie keyboards and growling guitars, tribal beats, pterodactyls, and psychedelic energy poured forth from the Columbia speakers on the windowsill and mantle.

I thought… I’d love to make that. If I ever learn how to play guitar, that’s the kind of music I want to make. The Beatles are nice and all, but this just feels different. Like it’s calling me to step into the Garden of Eden.

We’ve all heard the stories of Jimmy Page blatantly stealing from other artists early in his rock career. They opened for a band called Spirit. There are claims Jimmy stole the riff from one of their songs to create Stairway to Heaven. There have been lawsuits about this.

Jimmy was determined to build the perfect hard rock band. But I don’t think the Kieth Moon story is the real origin of the name. I think Jimmy simply stole the idea and made a variation of it for his band.

Look at the name Def Leppard. That’s an obvious nod to Zeppelin. Thieves or not, I love all of these bands, and rock n roll is one of the greatest bastards in music. They’ve all been influenced and stolen from each other. This has happened in every sector of music in the world.

Besides… It’s only Rock n’ Roll.

I guess I always liked when my dad said the words, “Iron Butterfly”… because now I realize he was describing me.

On a final note… “Led Zeppelin is clearly the better band. But Iron Butterly is a way cooler name for a band than Led Zeppelin.” – Chaz

My Wildwood book is coming out this summer! Stay tuned!!

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

Tales of Rock – Hard Days Night and Beyond

I once heard Sting from the band The Police say, “When I saw Hard Days Night I wanted to be a rockstar. When I saw Jimi Hendrix  wanted to be a musician.”

That sounds dumb to me because when I saw Hard Days Night I wanted to be a rockstar, and when I saw and heard Jimi Hendrix I still wanted to be a rockstar. I knew if I could just figure out how to play the guitar one day I could be a rockstar. I never wanted to be a guitarist that could shred a bunch of notes on the neck like a typist, I just wanted to write good songs and be a rockstar and live that life.

When I was young, I saw Hard Days Night on TV. I absolutely loved it. I fell in love with The Beatles and even though I preferred more aggressive rock music like Steppenwolf, I totally got what the greatest composers of the 20th century were doing with The Beatles. Paul was the driving force, but I liked John better because he was the cool one and the funnier of the two.

You couldn’t rent or download any movies back in the 70s. The technology simply didn’t exist. You had to tune into a specific channel on a certain night and time if you wanted to see anything. But I was probably 16 the second time I saw Hard Days Night. I loved it all over again and appreciated it even more as a landmark film that depicted the Beatles beautifully. They are all so young in it and you can see they’re really enjoying themselves after toiling away as a band in the clubs for over 8 years before they made it big.

I had a cassette tape recorder that my dad had given me and I set it for record on a little snack table next to the TV. I recorded the whole movie’s audio track that evening. Now I could go back and listen to the entire movie anytime I wanted. But like all of my Bill Cosby and George Carlin records I listened to, I learned all the dialogue and songs. So I could sit in art class at Frankford High and recite Beatles bits to my classmates. I would even do all of the accents and everything. It was a riot and I delighted my friends with my comedy bits.

I later owned the film on DVD but it just wasn’t the same as seeing it as a teenager and absorbing the magic of the movie in my mind. I recently watched the Peter Jackson film, Get Back on Disney+. I had heard about it and knew that it was something Peter had been working on for a long time. He took hours and hours of film and audio from the sessions from 1969 and created a concise picture of where the band was at the time. It’s in 3 parts because it’s so massive but it’s brilliant.

For the first time in my life, I felt like I was so close to the Beatles. The 4 guys as a band and as best friends. Working out the songs for Abbey Road and Let It Be in a recording space in the basement of the Apple Records building. It’s a long film and for most people, I think it’ll be boring, but for me, it’s absolutely captivating. You can actually see how the songs are created and composed right there live. It’s amazing to see John and Paul create these songs and you know that the song is gorgeous and finished, but they’re not quite there yet. For the composer or musician, this film is like opening a box that’s been buried for 50 years and it’s filled with diamonds and gold.

If you love The Beatles and the writing and composing process of geniuses, this is definitely worth a watch. The guys aren’t even 30 years old yet in this film and they’ve already changed the world.

Amazing!

It took me a week to finish it because I watched it like I do everything else I like. In little bite-sized bits.

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Holiday Odyssey – Part 10

Booster – December 30, 2021

I walk down to my local Walgreens and inquire about getting a booster shot. The nice pharmacist, Gabrielle tells me I have to go onto Walgreens’ website, find a location, and schedule my shot. This seems like a bit of a pain but I need to get it done now, especially with the emergence of the highly contagious strain of covid called omicron. But before I leave I decide to use my powers on Gabrielle and give her a push.

Me: So it’s all booked up for shots here today?

Her: Yes.

Me: When people make these appointments do they always keep them?

Her: No. Sometimes we get a few no-shows.

Me: How about I give you a call tonight and see if anybody canceled?

Her: Umm… okay. Here’s my card, Charles.

Me: I’ll see you later.

I go home and make an appointment for the first available which is a week from now. But around 7pm I call Gabrielle and see what was happening. She says she’s waiting to hear from a few people but I should call back at 8pm but no later than ten after. I’m fine with that.

At 8pm I call the store and ask for the pharmacy.

Me: Hey Gaby, it’s Charles again. How are we looking?

Her: Come on down and we’ll get you boosted.

Me: See you in 10 minutes!

Sweet! My fatal charm and powers of negotiation have triumphed again!

I head down there and fill out the form. In a few minutes, she takes me back into a little room that I didn’t even know existed in the back of the store. We walk in and she closed the door, and I open my shirt revealing my left arm for the shot.

Me: I didn’t even know this little room existed back here.

Her: Well we don’t want you to disturb the customers when you start screaming…

Me: Wait… what?

Her: I’m kidding! You’ve been through this before.

Me: I like medical professionals with a sense of humor. Good bedside manner, Gabby.

I barely feel it and in a minute it’s done. She tells me to stay in the store for at least 10 minutes, and if I feel okay I can leave. Of course, I’m fine and off I go. I’m glad that’s done!

Xmas with daughter

With everything that’s been going on, there’s been no time for my daughter and me to sit down and exchange gifts. She’s got some things for me and I for her, but we’ve both been so busy with other people. I’m sure we’ll get to it soon. We don’t care about tradition or doing something on a specific date so we’ll probably get to it sometime in January.

My life has become so much more peaceful in the last couple of years and I love it. I’m happy just to write, work, cook my dinner, and watch my shows on Netflix at night. I thought the holidays would be quiet this year but they’ve been action-packed. I’m so grateful for my good health, and all of my friends and family and I think it’s been a fine year!

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

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

Holiday Odyssey – Part 9

Duncan – Sunday, December 26, 2021

I finish work and text Duncan. I tell him to meet me at Rosy’s Taco Bar at 4 pm. It’s a great spot over on 23rd and Walnut just outside the Rittenhouse bubble. I know the GM through the hardware store and he’s given me the drink hookup last time I was there with my friend James. I figure Duncan will enjoy the place and it’s something different to do.

I get there a little early and take a seat. My server is a 23 yr old chick who is cute and charming. Duncan arrives and joins me at the table. He’s also smitten with our charming server. It’s rare to get such great service and effervescence in hospitality staff anymore. The whole industry just seems a bit broken from covid.

Duncan insists we get nachos so I’m down. We both go with a couple of hot toddies to drink because it’s a little chilly out today. They serve them in a couple of mugs and they’re delicious.

Nachos always seem like too much food before the actual meal but I don’t care. (They were actually pretty good!) After that, we get a round of beers and I get the chicken tacos and Duncan gets some sort of corn-based platter.

Our conversation is lively as always and our server is absolutely wonderful. We tell her the only way we’d go to another place is if she were our server at each place. She laughs and tells us she’d come to hang with us if she didn’t have to work. Whether this is skilled hospitality or not, we appreciate the gesture. She tells us that in March she’d going to hike on the famous trail that goes from Mexico to Northern California. I’ve seen the film, Wild, with Reese Witherspoon which I found awful… but okay. It seems like a dangerous and arduous journey, but hey, do a lot of adventures while you’re young. I decide to follow her on Instagram so I can watch her make the trip.

After a couple of hours, we head out into the chilly December night. It’s Sunday, and covid is still doing its thing so with it being a holiday weekend, nobody’s really out. I was surprised to see how desolate the city looked. A lot of places were closed. Years ago, around the holidays and with everybody home, the bars would be swinging. But Duncan and I aren’t young anymore and neither of us drinks much so it was somewhat of a waste of time to walk around center city.

While strolling down 15th street, we’re accosted by these two young women. They tell us that their phones are dead, they’re from Jersey, they’ve been separated from their squad and they don’t know their way around the city. Years ago this would have been an opportunity for our two heroes, but now Duncan whips out a portable charger to help the girls and I start giving the directions with no thought of trying to get them to hang out with us. It never even entered either of our minds. We just wanted to help. I suppose we both now look like just a couple of clean-cut older gentlemen willing to help. Which I suppose we are.

They were both adorable. Duncan liked the little brunette and I the leggy blonde of course, but we didn’t even mention this to each other until we’d powered up their phones and sent them safely in the right direction. Just a couple of aging superheroes in our secret identities helping the fine citizens in the city.

We end up going to Marathon Grill over on 19th and Spruce. The place is dead and I’m still stuffed from Rosy’s Taco Bar. I get a glass of chardonnay and Duncan gets an iced tea and a chocolate chip cookie. Long gone are the two wild men that used to go to rock concerts like AC/DC. Judas Priest and Iron Maiden then hit the streets to get even drunker. Now we’re just two old friends chatting at a lonely table in a quiet diner.

This suits me just fine and I’m so glad Duncan came to Philly and spent some time with me. We’ve been pals for 25 years and have a rich history together.

And for that… I’m grateful.

The Guitar lady returns – December 27th

The contractor/musician lady comes into the hardware store again. She checks in with me to see if I’m still interested in hanging out with her and that I should text her. I apologize to her for not reaching out and tell her I’ll text her that night. A couple of the guys are there in the store and they hear this exchange after she leaves they tell me that it sounds like she likes me. Well, we’ll have to see what happens. Now that I think I may be positive for omicron I have to be careful. I’m not worried, I just don’t want to infect anyone else.

That night I text her when I get home from work. I hear nothing back from her. I mean, she seemed a little flakey in the store but who knows what’s going on with people over the holidays.

The next day I was off and decided to just give her a call. She answers and says she’s been under the weather since getting her flu shot and her booster on the same day! I can understand how those shots knock most people for a loop. I should probably get my booster soon! We chat a bit and she tells me she’ll text me later if she’s feeling better.

She does text me later but says she’s giving me a raincheck on playing guitar together or hanging out. I’m fine with it. She knows where I work and if she wants to get together she can come find me.

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

Holiday Odyssey – Part 8

Bonding through Hardware – December 24, 2021

I was at work talking to the general manager and he showed me this local website where you could buy books. He said the owner was a client of ours. If you purchased books through this website it kept the money local and helped out our client. He said it was a great resource for books. I asked him if maybe my books were on there. We put in my name and sure enough, there were all six of my published books! So cool. I love seeing my stuff everywhere.

He told me that the guy had a little bookstore down on Sout street. I told him I had walked by there several times and always wanted to go in. He said I should go visit him and talk to him about doing a book signing and/or he could carry my books in his store and maybe even display them in the front window, which would be awesome. I’d love to see my books in a storefront window in a bookstore here in Philly. I tell him that the next time I’m off I’m going to take a walk down there and chat with him.

I then get a text from my friend James who tells me that he woke up the other day feeling achy. He says he went and got a covid test and it came back positive. Oh no…

I text him back that I’m fine. He’s relieved and says he’s be bummed if I somehow caught it from him when we hung out the other night. I assure him that I’m fine.

But I’m not fine. I feel a little achy myself, have a slight headache, and have a dry cough. I think I may have caught omicron from him, but I couldn’t tell him. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I tell myself I may be being a bit of a hypochondriac and I’m probably fine. But it’s probably just me being paranoid as well as in denial. I tell no one.

I think back to when this whole pandemic began back in January 2020. I was feeling achy, and tired, and felt the onset of a cold coming on. This is before anything happened in this country. I was working at the restaurant back then and some of my co-workers were wondering if I was okay. I told them I felt okay, just a little run down. I think that’s when I first contracted delta before anyone knew what it was. My immune system knocked it out in about 3 days and it never went any further.

By March 2020, I was laid off from work and the world was getting covid. I got vaccinated in April and again in May and never had any symptoms. My immune system has always been robust so I wasn’t even worried. But you can’t be too careful, especially at my age.

No here it was 7 months later and I was due for my booster and I was experiencing the very same symptoms. I’m vaccinated and I was feeling fine but something was up. I had been out a lot over the last two weeks and came in close contact with dozens of people over that time. I probably got omicron.

One of our employees tested positive and has been in quarantine for over a week. Christmas day comes and goes. My Christmas already happened on the 18th when I saw my whole family. That was magic. My daughter has been busy with work and family functions on the other side of the river so I haven’t spent any time with her so that’s good.

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

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

Holiday Odyssey – Part 7

These are events that took place in 2021

The Artist and Duncan – December 22

I was standing behind the counter at the hardware store and this gentleman walks in and start chatting with me. He seems just sightly nuts but not dangerous. He keeps saying he used to be homeless but isn’t anymore. He asks if I’ll move my mask so he can see my face so he can sketch me. He whips out his pad and pencil and goes to town. He calls me pretty boy and says he’s met me before. He seems a little familiar but I’ve met many characters in this city over the years. He isn’t causing any sort of harm or disruption in the store so I let him go. My fellow employees are enjoying this exchange so we let him do his thing. He’s telling me his story about how he used to draw people at the supermarket to get food and change in exchange for his drawings to survive when he was homeless. Of course, this strikes a chord with me as an artist myself and can imagine how hard his life has been over the years. I’m glad he’s okay now.

He ends up doing a nice rendering of me and gives me the drawing. He purchased a few small items and spent around $10. I take the money and give him his change. I then reach into my wallet and pull out $20 and hand it to him in exchange for his drawing of me. He’s surprised and grateful. An artist should be paid for his work and I’m happy to give him the cash for his sweet gesture. He leaves the store and I haven’t seen him since. But somehow I feel like he’ll be back in the store again someday soon.

I’m supposed to meet with my friend of 25 years, Duncan. The last time I saw him was back in 2019 when the Eagles were in the playoffs. We saw each other in 2018 when they won the Superbowl, but the last time was in 2019. It seems like a long time ago now. But you know how it is with close friends. You can not see each other for years and once you’re back together it’s like you were never apart. I love Duncan and I’m so glad we’ve been able to sustain this relationship for so many years.

(You can go to the Search Bar on this site and enter “Duncan” to read our past adventures!)

Duncan is visiting with his family for the holidays and he’s made some time to see me during the trip. He wants to meet up tonight for a fancy dinner so I’m game for that. I make a reservation at The Love on the corner of 18th and Sansom. It’s a classy place in the heart of Rittenhouse and home to a quiet vibe and American cuisine. I know Duncan probably doesn’t want anything too wild or exotic and I feel this will be perfect. I’ve never been there but the menu looks good and I’ve heard good things.

I finish work and stop at home to freshen up before heading up to the restaurant. The funny thing is, when I get there the hostess recognizes me from the city. I’m flattered and glad to see that she’s doing well. We have a bit of history that is somewhat colorful so if you put the name “JILL” in the SEARCH bar you’ll find some pretty crazy tales. Some of it is downright scandalous. You’ve been warned!

I say hello and she tells me my party is already seated. All I asked for in my reservation with Open Table was that I wanted a quiet spot. They’ve given me that and I’m happy. I see Duncan and he is looking sharp. I’ve missed him! It’s been 2 years! He stands up and we embrace. There’s nothing like the hug of a dear old friend. I am stupid happy to see him!

I start with my signature Manhattan and Duncan not being much of a drinker goes for a Cuba Libre.

We chat a bit and our server rolls over to the table. Duncan is reading the wine list and wants to order the cheese plate as an appetizer. I’m not a huge fan but who am I to complain? It’s a nice restaurant and it’s what my friend wants.

Here’s a pic:

Duncan must have been hungry because he ripped into that cheese plate with a vengeance. I dipped the french bread into the brie and it was lovely. But what I found odd was that they made two little mice out of cheese. I think the most bizarre part of this was their choice of animal to make a cute cheese thing out of. Come on… think about it. What is the one thing you never want to be associated with a restaurant?

Yea… rodents.

They look cute and are made of cheese as the little card shows, but the idea is off-putting. I’ve worked in hospitality and mice are the one thing you never want anyone to see or associate with your restaurant. We got a laugh about it, but instinctively neither of us touched the little mice!

Duncan says he’s into fine red wine now so I let him order whatever makes him happy. He gets an Italian red and looks at the price and says, “$100 for the bottle? That’s not too bad”. and orders it.

Okay. Whatever you want Duncan. I’m just happy to see you, dude.

I order the salmon and Duncan goes with the chicken. The dinner was sumptuous and the conversation lively. I’d be just as happy sitting in a sports bar or even a MacDonalds’s with my friend. This is another great night of an already surprisingly good holiday season!

The dinner is great and our server asks if we want dessert. Duncan says we do. I excuse myself to the restroom to hit my vape and take a break from all of the food. I just let him order whatever he wants. Normally I’d never eat like this now, but like  I said before… It’s the holidays and for these two weeks, all bets are off. I can get back into my disciplined life after the New Year.

When I return to the table there is some sort of magical blonde brownie and ice cream creation that is delectable. We devour that little desert like a couple of starving men. Just the idea of eating like this again is incredibly decadent to me but at this moment I love it!

The bill comes and of course, Duncan insists on paying. This has never been my intention but I’m surrounded by affluent friends. I can’t complain and I’m just happy they’re in my life for reasons money can’t buy. But it is all greatly appreciated.

We leave the restaurant and head east on Sansom. I figured we could stop at my old stomping ground Square 1682 just like old times. But it’s closed! I always have a backup plan for whenever when I’m out on the town in Philly, and tonight is no different. We keep moving and head over to Harp and Crown. Happily, they’re open but the place is pretty dead. We have no problem finding a seat at the bar and Duncan continues with his rum and cokes and I go with a glass of Chardonnay.

We chat a bit more and both get into fits of laughter reminiscing about our times working together at the bank back in the 90s and exchanging funny stories. The holidays are going so much better than I imagined they would this year. I’ve been living a very quiet life in basic solitude for the last year and a half and here I am with pretty much something to do and someone to see every other day for these last two weeks of the year!

With the recent surge in omicron cases (super contagious but not fatal) the city is pretty empty regarding nightlife. So after an hour or so they’re ready to close it up for the night. I put Duncan in a Lyft and send him back to his hotel. I think we’re both ready for a bit of rest before he has to go spend Christmas with his family. But we vow that we’ll meet up again on the Sunday after Christmas to hang out one more time before he returns home to North Carolina.

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

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

Happy New Year – 2023

Happy New Year!

What a year it’s been! A lot has happened and I’m going to touch on the highlights of 2022.

I’ve been writing this blog for over 6 years now. 2022 has been a great year with many changes. The pandemic rolled on and as more people got vaccinated it began to slow down. I was laid off from my hospitality job back in March 2020 and was unemployed for a year and a half. Normally that would sound sad but it was a spectacular and creative time for me and my daughter.

For a whole year and a half, we weren’t slaves to horrible jobs. We both vowed that when things returned we’d never work in the hospitality industry again. The one thing people love in this city is going out to dinner and drinking. But working in that industry is the absolute worst place for anyone to be as a vocation. It not only attracts the worst people and those who lack the skills to do anything else, but the hours also suck, and the clientele is impaired.

Just awful.

But I’m glad we both did it because we knew what we never wanted to do again, and it gave us the means to file for unemployment and collect on the government’s dime for a year and a half.

It was like getting a grant to create and make music for over a year. If you leave artists alone, they’ll have the time and money to simply work on their art.

During that time my daughter composed and produced an EP of original songs and put them out on YouTube and Soundcloud. I continued writing and publishing my blog but didn’t have any new stories for content. So I decided to turn inward and write stories from my young life growing up in Philly and my summers in Wildwood.

They were all wildly successful. I dropped the links into groups on Facebook that liked that sort of nostalgic content and the members loved them. It brought me a lot of fresh content and traffic. The best part of it for me was reconnecting with people from my past and realizing what my next two books would be about.

2022 saw the release of my fifth work of non-fiction, LAWNDALE, a collection of stories from my childhood growing up in Northeast Philadelphia. It continues to have brisk sales on Amazon.

I had the honor of being a guest on Tom Krantz’s podcast, Type. Tune. Tint. It was a great experience and helped promote my book. You can check it out here.

Regarding numbers on the blog, we’ve had another good year. We hit over 380,000 page views since the blog’s inception.

Here are some of the 2022 YTD data:

Page Views: 55,000

Visitors: 44,000

Subscribers: 2,400

I’m really happy with how much the blog has grown organically since I started it with just one post back in the Fall of 2016. I appreciate everyone who reads, likes, comments and subscribes to Phicklephilly.

Phicklephilly began as a place for me to tell my stories about dates I went on, past and present girlfriends, and friends. I later added dating and relationship advice which was popular and brought me tons of traffic. I had grown tired of it all back in 2020 and wanted to stop doing the dating and relationship advice because it just became too hard to generate and maintain. But I kept it going because people liked it and it brought me traffic. But back in 2016, I prophecized that there would come a day when Phicklephilly would become nothing more than stories from my life and nothing more. I’m at a point with this blog where I’m writing for myself.

After doing it for 6 years and cranking out 7 published books I’m hungry to create something of real value. But I don’t want it to publish every day. It’s too much work and not my ultimate vision for this blog. I make a nice living now doing freelance commercial writing for companies across the country. It’s a challenge to create and the money is decent. I love the idea of making a living doing something I created rather than working in some job with a bunch of no-talent mooks. (which was my life in corporate America for the last 30 years)

I went from working in sales in my professional life to a guy who makes his living writing. I love to create. Nothing brings me more joy than making something and publishing it.

Starting back in January of 2022 Phicklephilly no longer provided any dating and relationship advice. I’ve been doing it for over 3 years and I’m tired of it. I feel like I’ve covered every aspect of it and it no longer interests me. People can still read all of that stuff because it will live in the archives on this blog forever. My traffic for the site is still solid despite the changes made last year and the lack of new content.

I only publish once a week. I put out something new and different every Tuesday. There will be no notice and each piece will stand on its own. Think of the quote from Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never what you’re going to get.” That’s what Phicklephilly has become. Every Tuesday you get a new story but it will only be about things I want to write about or stuff I did.

I like the idea of the absolute freedom to create the stories I want to tell. But fear not… these are all interesting little stories about cool topics. I’m finally making the blog I want to make with no interest in page views, likes, revenue, or stats. Will I cash all the checks I receive from WordPress and Google for the ads I allow them to run on my site? Of course, I will. Why not? I provided all of this content and this ad revenue helps support the site. But it will no longer drive why I generate content. I’d rather write something heartfelt and meaningful than just crank out dating and relationship advice.

I’m getting older now. (60!) I don’t work in corporate America anymore. I’m so glad I left the rat race behind. I don’t go to happy hour anymore. I eat better and rarely drink alcohol. Going out to bars and burning money with a bunch of drunks seems like a waste of time. I haven’t been on a dating app in over two years. I just don’t care. Those sites are all filled with leftovers and losers anyway. Sad lonely people looking to replicate the love of their lives that’s long gone and can never be reproduced.

I’m glad I lived all of these adventures and don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a great time in this city. But it’s over. I’m done. There’s absolutely nothing I can learn from hanging out or dating young women. Other than their youth and beauty, they bring nothing to the table. Let the young people find their way with each other. I don’t belong out there anymore. To me, it’s just boring.

Don’t get me wrong, It’s been a great year. I will write about all of the adventures I’ve had in 2022. They’re stories best told in the coming year. I assure you, they will be interesting.

However, Tales of Rock will live on in 2023. It will happen when I think of something interesting and then write a piece about it and drop it on a Tuesday. That’s it.

I’m looking forward to how the blog will evolve and change as time goes by. I continue to evolve so why not my work? You should always be evolving throughout your life. If you’re not, you’re stagnant. I’m happy that I’m always growing and changing, even at this point in my life. There’s always new cool stuff to do and experience, and I want to share those stories with you.

I’m grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read Phicklephilly and bought my latest books over the years, but the best is yet to come!

I hope to publish my 8th book, Down The Shore around Memorial Day this year. This will be a book about my life in Wildwood during the 70s.

Health and Happiness to all in the coming year!

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

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

Here’s the wrap-up from Tom’s podcast.

Holiday Odyssey – Part 6

This series is a review of last year’s holiday season

Hollywood Happy Hour – December 21st, 2021

I get a text from James (talent agency friend) that the only night we can hang out before Christmas and exchange presents and have cocktails is tonight, so I’m down. I’m off on Tuesday, so tonight is perfect. I’m still riding the happy wave from seeing my family and recently getting a raise.

I work my shift at the store and then head home at 6 pm. I clean up and change into my usual cocktail character/nightlife guy. I head up to AKA Bar at the corner of 18th and Walnut at the edge of Rittenhouse Square Park.

I arrive and he’s already there sitting at a table by the window with a pile of wrapped presents. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed because he’s so hard to buy for and so far I’ve only received in the mail one of the many gifts I got him this year. I left it at home because when we meet up we end up back at my house near the end of the night.

I’ve been sober with this new lifestyle for over 80 days, but it’s the holidays and I want to share some delicious well-crafted cocktails with my friend tonight. I’ll partake but also drink plenty of water.

I’m happy to have some one-on-one time with him after only seeing him briefly at his massive party aboard the Moshulu last week. We discuss the party, the people, and what the party could look like next year. He tells me he’s going on a cruise in about a week for his 35th birthday, and I think that’s great.

He sort of broke up with his girlfriend of 8 years last summer but they never really broke up. I would say they just took a break or something. They’re still together but she no longer lives with him. To me, it’s just extending the inevitable. They either break up for real and end it and maybe remain friends if that’s possible, or they decide to throw in the towel and just get married. I’m sure that’s what she wants but at this point, James doesn’t have any idea what he wants. It’s none of my business and I’m just happy to have him in my life. He’s a very successful businessman and his talent company hasn’t suffered through any changes in his personal life, so more power to him. He’ll figure it out.

The cocktails are great and the ones I pick are sumptuous. The secret to enjoying vice is to only partake in it in very small doses on rare occasions. You just enjoy it more. It’s so easy to want to have a drink at the end of every day but it quickly loses its luster. The key is moderation. All the things you love should be treats, not a daily obsession.

The place is quiet and we get a chance to talk. While we’re there, I get an email from my editor. I go to the bathroom to hit my vape and read the email. She asks me if I want a quick and dirty post that was due in 2 days. 1000 words, $100. It’s been a super lean month, so of course, I jump at the opportunity. That’s a huge positive.

We close out our tab and James insists on paying. “Company card, a business expense,” he says.

I’m getting hooked up this year. Everyone’s been so good to me. We decided we’d like to stay out a bit longer and need to get something to eat. I suggest Cavanaugh’s over on Sansom because the food’s good and they stay open until all hours of the night. A lot of the nicer restaurants close early these days but not the sports bars. They’re back to staying open until 2 am every night. I feel for the people who can still live and work in jobs like this. It’s a grinding profession.

We get there and it’s not too crowded. It’s Monday night, but Cavs is always a good time. I’m hungry, it’s the holiday, and I’m with my dear friend so all bets are off regarding my diet. This will be a rare treat. James orders the french dip and I go with buffalo chicken nuggets and fries. This is glorious. I haven’t had a french fry since July. The food is amazing, (probably average but I can’t tell!) and we’re having a good time. I’m sipping a whiskey club and he’s enjoying an IPA. After an hour or so we decide to head back to my place.

We get there and James chats with my daughter for a bit and then we head back into my room. I always have a little chair and table set up for him so he can sit, have a drink, and have a snack. It’s time to break out the presents. I think next year we need to cut this back. It’s just too much. I’m going to tell him I’m going to change it to only one gift next year. It’s too hard to shop for everybody and it’s a lot of money going out on stuff. But I’m pleased with what he got me.

He got me these cute little fridge magnets that look like mini VHS boxes for movies. Adorable! He also got me this whiskey system where you have different flavored wood chips you burn and then place a glass over it until it goes out and then pour the booze into the glass, and it gives it a smokey flavor. Cool, but I don’t know when I’ll ever use it. Another cool thing he gave me this year was a unique candle. He knows I like candles, so he came up with something I never expected.

How amazing is that? A candle that when burned will recreate the smell of going to the local Blockbuster with my daughter on a Friday night to get some movies for the weekend! I can’t even believe someone came up with this idea for a candle, but why not? I can’t wait to burn this little guy!

He also got me this nice bottle of rye! I don’t drink that much anymore but I’ll add it to the collection for sure!

Resurgent Straight Rye Whiskey 750ml

I hope the gifts I got him are up to snuff like these amazing presents. But this is too much and too nice for me. We need to scale it back next year… big time! But I’m very grateful!

I hope he likes the stuff I got him. His birthday is also coming up any day now so it looks like it’s going to be a Xmas/birthday when I see him next time. He says he’s going away on a cruise soon, and won’t be back for a while but with the recent surge in omicron, I fear his cruise will be canceled.

We stayed up late chatting, and the time always flies by when I’m with James because our conversations are lively. He’s a great friend and I love spending time with him. Around 2 am he calls for a Lyft and off he goes. I hope I see him sooner than later in the new year!

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

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

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