Last Exit for the Lost

Sarah Louise DeVos was born February 12, 1976, in Cape May Court House, New Jersey, to William and Sandra DeVos. She leaves behind her parents, sister (Sharon), brother (Mark), two nephews (Isaiah and Rashon), two great-nieces (Ariana and Makenna), as well as aunts, uncles, cousins, and the many friend’s children who also considered her their Auntie Sarah. She also leaves behind an eclectic group of friends and acquaintances from around the globe who loved and adored her for the beautiful, creative, compassionate, stylish, and loving person she was.  

Sarah was raised in both Cape May and Carlisle, PA. After graduating from Carlisle High School in 1994, she moved to Philadelphia. She self-funded her education at Moore College of Art and Design, obtained a degree in graphic design, and made lifelong friends. During college, Sarah worked as a valet for the Rittenhouse Hotel, which was an ideal position for someone who loved stylish cars. She also worked at Shampoo during college, one of the most well-known nightclubs in Philly during the 90s, which allowed her to enjoy many things she loved – fashion, music, and people.  

Sarah took her degree and talents to every agency she worked for, most recently Free People in Philadelphia. She also took on many freelance gigs throughout her career, during which she created some award-winning chalkboard illustrations for friends’ weddings, and special events, and logos for businesses. She also displayed her artwork in Old City on First Fridays.

In addition to being a talented artist, Sarah loved music and fashion. She could easily dance all night in three-inch heels and often sent her friends CD mixes of some of her favorite songs. When other people saw clutter at a discount clothing store, Sarah saw an opportunity. She could create the most unique and stylish outfits from any discount clothing store.

Sarah also loved meeting people, hearing their stories, and talking with them about their adventures.  She used those skills throughout her life, including visits to Paris, Italy, Prague, London, Mexico, and throughout the US with friends.  

Sarah loved taking walks and looking at architecture.  If you ever spent time with her in her beloved Philly, she would share all this passion with you. She was observant and would point out all the details in the ornately decorated buildings as you walked past. And she usually had a story about all of them because she had no qualms about walking up to someone outside of these buildings and asking to tour them. Most of the time, people obliged her whims, happy to share their places with her appreciative eyes. 

She never owned a car during her time in Philadelphia but mastered the public transit system like she’d been riding it her whole life. Also, you would see her gracefully navigating through the heavy Philadelphia traffic on rollerblades or a bike like it was an Olympic sport.  

From her childhood friends to those she made at Moore College of Art and Design, to the strangers she turned into friendships, and all of the furry creatures she loved, everyone she met would be forever changed by her presence. She will be missed dearly by all that knew her.

Service will be held at Daybreak Church, 321 Gettysburg Pike, Mechanicsburg, PA, on Thursday, December 1, 2022, at 11:00am.  Visitation will be held for an hour prior to, at 10:00am.  There will be space available at the church if people would like to stay afterward and share further remembrances.  

Sarah’s portfolio can be viewed at http://www.thedutchfox.com 

To honor Sarah’s spirit, the family asks that you reach out to the person you love who needs to know they are loved.  All donations in her name came to be made to https://nami.org/Home,  https://www.furryfriendsnetwork.org/donate/,  or any other organization that contributes to the arts, mental health, or animal rescues. 

Arrangements are being handled by Hollinger Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc., Mt. Holly Springs. Visit www.HollingerFuneralHome.com to offer condolences to the family.

Please visit our flower store to plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Sarah DeVos.

On Saturday, November 19th, Sarah borrowed her nephew’s car and drove to Harrisburg. She found a parking garage and drove up to the roof. She got out of the car, walked to the edge, and jumped.

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

If you know anyone struggling, down, or feeling sad… give them a call. Or better yet, go see them. Check on them. See if they’re okay. If you are feeling like you can no longer cope in this life, help is available 24 hours a day.

Just call: 988

California Dreamin’ – VIDEON

Santa Monica, CA – 1983

I always loved music and films, so at some point, I decided that working in a music store would be better than working at a restaurant. I applied at several around Los Angeles and got an interview with a chain called Music Plus. They sold albums, tapes, videos, and concert tickets. I remember acquiring tickets to see David Bowie on his Serious Moonlight tour from there! But that’s another story.

Here’s another author’s memories in regard to Music Plus:

https://www.championnewspapers.com/opinion_and_commentary/chino_memories/article_4d1201f6-23d7-11e8-88aa-9faa52530da0.html

They liked me well enough but told me they didn’t have anything available in their music stores. But they were opening a flagship video store on Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica.

I knew that VHS and Beta were emerging in the home video market and thought it would be a cool job. Music Plus was a retail chain around LA, and since video was growing they decided to designate a whole store to just videotape sales and rentals.

It was a great idea at the time and the owner was truly a visionary for coming up with the idea. (We all know what happened in the coming years with the arrival of Blockbuster, but this was at the very beginning of the home video craze.)

VCR’s cost over $1500 back then and were the size of old electric typewriters. They weighed a ton and I think Beta was the only format in the beginning. Sony invented Beta and VHS but Beta was the better format. More compact with a simpler mechanism with better sound and video. They sold off the rights to VHS because it was inferior. But more companies bought it up and started making VHS VCRs like crazy. VHS ultimately won out in the format wars simply because more companies manufactured the machines and they were more available to the public. Funny, how the superior format failed to the inferior one simply based on availability. Man-made selection at its best!

I was 20 years old and just happy to not be working in a hot, sweaty kitchen in a bar and grill until midnight every day. This was a cool, clean job in a new industry.

The day manager was this super French guy who was easily well into his forties. He knew a lot about film and especially foreign films so that was cool. In the evenings they had another manager named Renee who was probably around twenty-five. She was short with brown hair and eyes. Kind of cute, but that was ruined by her bitchy personality. She seemed over her head in the position and was always short-tempered and stressed. She was always scheduling me to close with her because she liked me. Even though she was cranky a lot of the time, I knew she dug me. She would always ask me to smoke a joint with her out in the parking lot after work. I obliged because I figured maybe she’d be nicer if I hung out with her.

One night that parking lot smoke turned into a bit more and we ended up back at her place. I was young and didn’t possess the moral compass I have today. (Come on… who am I kidding? You’ve read this blog.)

There was one other girl who worked there most days with me, who was the quintessential 80s girl. (Think one of the members of the band The Go Gos) She was after me as well. Where were all the available men in LA back then? Nothing ever happened between us because I just wasn’t that into her. She seemed weird.

We had a good time working there and it was fun being around all of those movies all day. I learned a lot about film and the video industry working there. The whole store was arranged by studio, not by subject. So we had a section for Warner, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, etc.

The best part was, at lunch you could go in the back and watch a video while dining on your sandwich.

But here’s the interesting part. This was a legit spin-off from a big music store chain. Everything was above board. For the most part.

You won’t believe what the home video experience cost back then. It was a fledgling industry and everything was new, so that means expensive. The machines were a fortune, and the tapes were really pricey as well. Most videotape movies started at $59.95 to purchase. But we did have a rental program. It was $100 to join and to rent a movie it was over $20 and you had to leave a huge deposit on your credit card every time you rented some movies. Isn’t that crazy? It was like renting an automobile!

I remember when Raiders of the Lost Ark came out on videotape. It had made so much money worldwide, they released it for $39.95 on VHS and Beta. This was unheard of. A groundbreaking low price for a blockbuster film.

Next was the making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and the music video all in one tape. That was released for only $29.95. The lowest price ever offered for a home videotape ever. We sold the hell out of them.

There were NO Disney titles of any kind on VHS and Beta. I think they were waiting to see what the NEW format would do for their stockholders. (Now they own everything!)

We didn’t have hundreds of copies of popular movies back then. Most of the films available were from the past. So everything in the store was from the 70s and back. New movies were in the theaters and it would be years until they landed on video. But there were plenty of great films to watch. But the only place I could check out titles was during lunch in the back.

But here’s the twist to this upstanding business called VIDEON. We sold the occasional tape to some wealthy people who wanted to own some quality films to show their friends and family.

Home video was in its infancy and it was like the wild west back then. Here’s what they did at VIDEON. Say, someone rents a few films. They watch them and return them after the 3 day allocated time. We take that tape in the back room. There is a table with a spool of shrinkable cellophane on a roll and an industrial blow dryer. We rewind the tape and rewrap it in our own little shrink wrap. We sear the creases on the spool so it seals the wrap. We then hit it with the blow dryer and that shrinks the wrap so that it clings to the original box with the tape in it. Does it look brand new? Does it look like it came from the factory? No. But do the customers know that? No.

So basically they were renting movies all the time and then repackaging them and selling them as new to unsuspecting customers. I wasn’t comfortable with this practice because it just didn’t seem right. People were tricked into thinking they were buying something brand new and paying the top retail price. But in actuality were being sold a used product. That smells like fraud to me. It had to be illegal. But like I said, back then it was the wild west. I was getting a paycheck every week so I never said anything about their diabolical criminal enterprise.

The way to tell was, I knew what the rewrapped shrink wrap looked like, and if you looked through the window on the tape, the tape on the spool was slightly uneven. When they’re new, this is not the case.

I don’t know what happened to that company, but I’m sure they were devoured by Blockbuster some years later. (It was the last job I had before leaving California)

It’s funny how when something’s new, it costs a fortune and feels so exclusive. But in a few years, it’s all cheap and available to everyone. Now, it’s all gone. You can simply stream everything. DVDs aren’t even a thing anymore.

But it was a fun job and a peek at was to come in the world of home video in the future.

I recommend you watch the documentary The Last Blockbuster on Netflix. Very interesting. The best bits are about the business and corporate end of that industry. The rest is just a bunch of self-absorbed clowns talking about their love for Blockbuster and home video.

But I will say this one last thing. I do have some wonderful memories of picking up my little daughter on a Friday night and heading over to the local Blockbuster. We’d pick out some movies, popcorn, and candy for the weekend. It was a fun ritual that just about everyone I know once did together.

Check out my latest book on Amazon!

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

Type. Tune. Tint. – LAWNDALE Podcast with Tom Kranz

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a gentleman I didn’t know. His name is Tom Kranz, and he’s an author and has his own podcast called Type. Tune. Tint. He asked me if I would be a guest on his show, and of course I agreed!

We talked about my latest book, LAWNDALE and how we’re from the same part of the city and some of our collective history. It was a great experience and I’m really grateful that Tom reached out to me.

I decided that I should share it with you all and hope you enjoy listening to this short piece as much as I did making it with Tom. It’s entitled: Creativity Born in a Philadelphia Row home.

Enjoy!

You can listen to it here:

Here’s the link too:

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1208186/11295399

Here’s some more links to Tom’s work. He’s an accomplished author in his own right! Below is a link to his blog where he talks about LAWNDALE and the process.

Tom’s blog. He wrote a really nice post about me and my creative life. Check it out!

Thank you, Tom!

I’m super excited about being on his podcast and I hope you all enjoy it. I owe this fellow Philadelphian and neighbor a drink the next time he’s in center city!

If you’re one of the few who hasn’t gotten your copy of LAWNDALE, you can order it below.

Thanks once again to everyone who bought my book!

You can check out all of my books here: 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 week.

Star Wars Is Cool Again

Star Wars has always been a love of mine. Since it came out in 1977, I’ve been a fan. It was such a huge part of my teenage life just like the band, Aerosmith. We loved Star Wars and everything about the whole mythology for years. But then something occurred in the 90s. George Lucas decided to produce the prequels. If you’re a fan you know how badly that went.

Then there were the sequels in the last few years. Not as bad as the prequels but they just felt like a nostalgic retread to please all the Star Wars fanboys. Just updated versions of the original gems. Sad knock offs for any true fan of the original trilogy.

But a couple of years ago something wonderful happened. They made Rogue One which is a new prequel to the events leading up to the 1977 original, A New Hope. It was a really good and unique story. I liked it and so did my friends. But the sequels were still happening and they just didn’t feel right.

Then they came out with the series The Mandalorian. I watched it and LOVED it. It looked and felt like the original Star Wars from my youth. That’s pretty hard to do, but it’s been done. This is how it all should have gone down after Return of the Jedi, but didn’t. But now here we are exploring these new characters and it has the look and feel of the classic originals. I’m very pleased.

Then last year they came out with the Book of Boba Fett. I didn’t know how that was going to be but my fingers were crossed. I LOVED that too!

I think after 20 years the guys who were teenagers like me when we first encountered Star Wars are now making the new movies and shows. If that’s what it took, then so be it. I’m happy and it’s nice to see that there’s a group of artists that know what they’re doing and are expanding the Star Wars universe the right way.

So to my friends and me there really are only a few true Star Wars projects:

Rogue One – A New Hope – The Empire Strikes Back – Return of the Jedi – The Mandalorian – The Book of Boba Fett.

That’s it so far. If there is anything else after Boba then I haven’t seen it yet at the time of this writing. But we’re headed in the right direction and I think the true fans will agree!

Thank you, Jon Favreau!!!!

Update: The next Star Wars show that is coming out will be on Disney+ and is called Andor, dropping on September 21st. So… YAY!

Check out my new book on Amazon!

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

Connected Memories

The LAWNDALE book has been on sale on Amazon since August 9th. Happily, it’s been selling really well. And for that, I’m very grateful. There’ll be a special blog post about that this Thursday.

But in the meantime, here’s a little bonus story for you all to enjoy.

“Relics may be the literal remains of holy people or objects that the holy people have used or touched. Examples of relics include teeth, bones, hair, and fragments of objects such as fabrics or wood. … Relics are believed to have special powers to heal, grant favors, or exorcise spirits.”

Philadelphia, PA – Lawndale – Late 60s Early 70s

When I was a kid the cool place to hang out at night was down the basement. It was a little chilly down there, so my mom always made us wear our sweaters. There was a nice built-in bar with an old-time working telephone, a pool table, a comfortable old sofa, a chair, and my dad’s desk.   My dad would hang out down there and listen to his music and read after dinner.

My dad liked to smoke the occasional cigar and had a nice wooden humidor where he kept them. I remember he would open it and pull out the little metal screen in the lid and ask me to run it under the faucet in the bathroom. He would shake the excess water out of it and replace it back into the box. The screen kept the cigars moist and fresh.

On my dad’s desk, he had his papers and reports for work or anything else he was attending to. A couple of his hobbies were writing and filmmaking so he always had something he was working on down there.

One of the things that he had that I always liked was this old cast iron ashtray from the 1930s. It was specifically designed for cigars because it had two large grooves in the edges of the tray that would accommodate a couple of stogies.

I have no idea where he got it and maybe it belonged to his father, but its origin never came up. I just thought it was cool because on the tray it had a little man clinging to a lamp post. He wore a yellow vest and a derby hat. He was painted and his eyes were little Xs. I remember asking my dad why his eyes looked that way, and he said that the little guy had too much to drink and was clinging to the pole to steady himself. I always thought he was just holding on because he was in a wind storm, but my dad said he was three sheets to the wind.

It was just a cool, old artifact that was always around and my dad used it to ash his cigars in it when he was down there. Years later in 2016, when my father passed away, the object once again appeared. I wasn’t interested in getting anything out of his house when he passed, but one of the members of my family got in there and started taking stuff. I thought this was wrong because technically the property was left to two other members of the family and this person was trespassing and stealing. (looting!)

I asked if the little ashtray was still around. It was the only thing I wanted. Back then I still smoked and thought it would be a cool nostalgic addition to my desk. I put the word out and the little guy was mailed to me.

I was happy to have him. I cleaned it up, and because it was made from cast iron, it looked exactly as it did when I was a boy. It sits today on my desk in my place in Rittenhouse.

Here he is. (Looks a bit like Andy Capp!)

Philadelphia, PA – 2021

I was working at the counter at the hardware store and an older gentleman was there picking up some string and nails. He handed me the postcard pictured at the beginning of this post. I asked him what it was about and he told me that there are people who collect old postcards from around the world. I thought this was cool and never knew that people did that. But people collect everything so why not postcards?

I took the postcard and told the man I would probably stop over and check it out and say hello.

October 29, 2021

The day arrived and I decided to walk over and take a look. I was just looking for something to do on my day off. It was at the First Unitarian Church over at 22nd and Chestnut next to the Mutter Museum. The First Unitarian Church is cool because it’s open to everyone and has a vision and mission of love and values. But in the basement, they’ve hosted hardcore metal shows in the past, so I was down.

I get there and a guy was sitting outside at a table accepting $5 donations and signing people in. I paid my fee and carefully walked down the stone steps to the basement beneath the old church. I went inside and the postcard show was a very small affair. They only had a handful of tables set up with boxes of postcards from all over the world. One of the coolest aspects of this show was that many of the old postcards had writing on the backs of them. These were real postcards from real people from the past!

I read the words from long-dead people saying what a wonderful time they were having wherever they were, and how they didn’t want to come home. It touched a part of me who came from a time when people wrote cards and letters to each other. This was something I did as a youth in Wildwood. I would meet these girls and go on dates and then we’d correspond all winter until the following summer. It was a cheap, fun way to stay in touch with people you cared about. Calling them on the phone was too expensive and getting a nice letter and photos in the mail was so much more fun.

I found an old postcard from the 30s and it was a picture of the post office out next to 30th street station here in Philly. I read the caption on the back and it stated that it was the only building in the country that you could land a small plane on. The building is a block long and they must have landed the little propeller planes carrying the mail on the roof back then. Amazing!

I noticed one of the tables had a few old typewriters set up and they would let the guests buy a postcard, and type who they wanted it to go to on the back. They even had a list of prominent people’s names and addresses you could send them to. So cool!

I watched as people struggled to use this ancient technology to communicate. It almost seemed alien to them because they can now text and send photos in seconds with today’s technology. I like that technology is so stunning now late in my life, but I’m glad I come from an age when people wrote letters and cards to each other. It’s so much more intimate and romantic.

I happened upon one of the tables and was looking at some old postcards from the 70s from places I knew. I figured I should pick up a couple just for the sake of nostalgia. I also wanted to support the people that took the time to share their collections with the general public.

But then I saw something that caught my attention.

A little cast iron figurine clinging to a pole. But he didn’t look like my drunk ashtray guy. He wore a top hat, tails, and spats. He looked like he’d just come from a classy night out at the theater but maybe had one too many martinis that evening. This object looked to have been manufactured by the same people that made my old ashtray.

I had to have it. 

I asked the man behind the table how much he wanted for it and he said $5. I couldn’t get my cash out fast enough. I handed over the money and he placed the little guy in a bag for me. I told him the story about the ashtray and he told me that one of this guy’s tails from his jacket curls off to the right. It’s a bottle opener!

Now I have a cute set and a companion for my ashtray guy. They’re also a reminder of how I don’t smoke and rarely drink anymore. I’m sure there must be plenty of these types of things all over the country, but I was just so surprised that I ended up at this unique show and found this little guy.

Here he is!

All in all, I think my favorite part of attending this little event was, chatting with the vendors about the past. I can see myself doing this sort of thing when I’m retired. Just go to old antique and collector shows to look at cool stuff from the past, and chat with the people who love them. It just felt good to reminisce with people from my generation about our memories from a forgotten time.

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

My new book, LAWNDALE is available’60s,Drthroughout for sale on Amazon!

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22 Halloween Costumes So Clever You’ll Wish You Thought Of Them First

“I love number 19!”

1. A Chicken Strip:

2. Wonder (Bread) Woman:

3. Cardiac Arrest:

4. Ghost Malone:

5. American Gothic:

6. When Life Gives You Lemons:

7. Cereal Killers:

8. A Pumpkin Spice Girl:

9. Bee-yoncé:

10. A Moosician:

11. A Black-Eyed Pea:

12. An Acute Angel:

13. A Freudian Slip:

14. A Gold Digger:

15. Hell On Wheels:

16. A Blessing In Disguise:

17. It’s Raining Men:

18. Llama Del Rey:

19. French Kiss:

20. Tequila Mockingbird:

21. A Stormtrooper:

In case it took you a second: Storm from the X-Men + a Stormtrooper = genius.

22. And A Zom-bee:

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Nobody Gets the Point of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

“Yea, I get it. If they have a use for you, they’ll accept you.”

Happy Holidays!

http://www.cracked.com/article_26077_nobody-gets-point-rudolph-red-nosed-reindeer.html

 

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Die Hard is a Christmas Movie, Everybody Shut Up

Happy Holidays!

 

http://www.cracked.com/article_26110_die-hard-christmas-movie-everybody-shut-up.html

 

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

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My Young Life: Halloween – 1978

Remember that kid Jimmy I told you in the band series? (See: Renegade – Chapter 7) He did magic and got gigs at kid’s parties as Jimbo the Clown. I told you in that chapter that he was really good at makeup. Well, one day he invited me and my friend Steve over to get made up as the group Kiss for Halloween. How great would that be, right?

We go over to his house and he’s got everything ready. He plays every Kiss album he has in his collection while he does our makeup. It takes hours but we’re having fun. We hoped it would come out okay.

Well, that’s my friend Stephen Peoples at Kiss drummer, Peter Criss and that’s me as bassist, Gene Simmons.

 

Fucking awesome, right?

That’s me, as Gene, (Holding Larry’s bass from our band) Steve as Peter, and the guy on the right is the dude Jimmy Hunsinger that did all of our make up as lead guitarist, Ace Frehley!

We look like the real deal!

It was a Fantastic Halloween!

 

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