Wildwood Daze – The Button Master

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1979-1980

There was a little unique shop on the boardwalk called The Button Master. My friend, Wolfie who was in a band with me at the time used to call the place, The Button Bastard. (I don’t know why, but why not?)

The shop was nothing but buttons. This was a trend in the mid to late 70s. They had all kinds of cool phrases on them and they could even make custom buttons for you if you brought them an image.

I always had a few buttons stuck to my green army jacket, which had the logo of my band on the back, The Union Jacks. I also had several buttons on the black guitar strap for my guitar. They were one of Alex from A Clockwork Orange, (Read the book by Anthony Burgess in 12th grade in American Lit class and loved it but hadn’t seen the Kubrick movie yet because it was no longer out in theaters and they would never show something like that on TV back then!) I had a button that said; I Want It All, Total Control, and a custom button I had made of Farrah Fawcett. (Because I LOVED her back then)

The owner was never there and I only met him once. But there was a guy who was in his 20s from New York named Tom Duke who worked there. He was a nice guy and would always let me hang out there and talk about rock music. Which I loved. I would sometimes just go up there on my day off and just browse the buttons and chat with him. They were all super cheap. Maybe a buck apiece.

I think Tom lived there, because there was a mattress on the floor in the back room, and I assumed he crashed there all summer. He was skinny and sort of gaunt, so he may have been a random drug user who didn’t seem like a person of means. But he had vast musical knowledge and I loved talking about rock with anybody who knew what they were talking about back then.

He was a big, YES and Genesis fan, and told me he knew some of the guys in those bands which I thought was super cool. (Could have been a lie, but who’s checking?) He liked that the latest Genesis album was entitled, Duke, because that was his last name. Just a weird coincidence I suppose.

Sometimes he had beer and we’d drink and chat and make it a fun night laughing it up in the store. Alcohol was new to me back then and I could get a nice buzz from 2 bottles of Bud. I remember Tom going out the back door of the store once and peeing right off the edge of the boardwalk into the parking lot below. Somebody yelled at him to stop, but he just laughed and shouted, “What? It’s my F*cking parking spot!”

I thought that was hilarious.

One night I was hanging out in the store and it was getting late. I knew he’d be closing soon and I’d be going home. I was just hanging in the store and talking rock with him, and helping customers find different buttons. I had spent so much time in that store I sort of knew where everything was. Just sheets hung up around the room and thousands of colorful buttons pinned all over them. Pretty simple setup and cheap inventory with low overhead.

This couple came in and they sort of looked like hybrid hippies. In their late 30s or early 40s. Like, maybe they used to be hippies but cut their hair but still had that hippie vibe to them.

I noticed the guy had an iron-on of Wile E Coyote on his yellow T-shirt. But I’m pretty sure this wasn’t an image licensed by Warner Brothers. It was Wile E, in a diving position with his mouth open and the message said: Muff Diver.

I’d seen that image before, but it just seemed kind of creepy even back then. We only wore fun images and rock band names on our shirts, and here was this old guy with this weird awkward shirt on.

I pointed to the wall of buttons and asked him if there was anything he was interested in. His response was:

“Other than f*cking?”

Okay, that’s weird.

So then, what I’m assuming was wife starts flirting with me right in the store. I’m getting nervous because her husband is right there on the other side of the store. She’s touching me and rubbing my back and stuff. I’m 17 years old and still pretty naive. I’ve been dating girls since I was 14 years old, but this was some new adult ground for me back in 1980. But I have a couple of beers in me, so I’m not having an anxiety attack.

She says she wants me to come back to their motel room for some fun. She was kind of hot and I was debating whether I should do it, but something was telling me I shouldn’t. I was experiencing some classic stranger danger. I didn’t know these people. What if they took me back to their room and killed me? I liked horror movies and my mind went right to that image.

Her husband was sort of just standing off in the distance watching all of this. He was smiling and nodding his head. I’m thinking, is this something these people do? Hunt young teen guys for their kinky debauchery? I wasn’t stupid and I’d heard of people who were swingers but I hadn’t encountered anything like this before.

So, Tom Duke says, “Why don’t you two just go into the back room and have at it. I felt a little better about that idea because he was there and if anything weird went down he could come and save me.

But, here’s the thing, they were in agreeance only if her husband could join in. I was like… No way. No three-way with an old dude. His wife continued to stay close to me and rub my back like I was some sort of pet.

I told them I appreciated their offer, but I just wasn’t into that sort of thing. They were nice about it and just laughed. She turns to her husband and says: “I think it’s just a lack of experience.”

I protested that I was hip to all things like that but just wasn’t into that particular thing. But they knew. I did lack experience. But in all honesty, there was no way I was fooling around with a lady and a man in some sort of sexy tryst.

They smiled, said goodbye, and left the store to go hunt down some other hapless teen. I hope they didn’t find anybody.

The next day I went and told my boss Louie on the Golden Nugget the whole lurid story. He told me I did the right thing by declining their offer. I’ll never forget what Louie yelled to me over the noise of the ride.

“You could have been screwing the lady and then all of a sudden, you feel some guy getting you from behind!” (add expletives and profanity from your imagination)

Just another crazy summer night in Wildwood.

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

Here’s my latest book. There will be a book about my summers in Wildwood coming Memorial Day 2023!

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

LAWNDALE – The 312 Magee Avenue Playlist

The Lawndale book is just one week away from being published!

While writing the Lawndale book I started to think about all of the music we listened to growing up in the house on 312 Magee.

There was always some sort of music playing somewhere in the house at any given time. Whether it was my mom listening to Andy Williams on the record player in the dining room while she did her housework, or us kids listening to our records.

My father always loved music and would listen to classical and operas in the basement while he worked or read his books.

We had the jukebox on the porch that had been loaned to us by a couple that my dad was friends with and we loved that thing!

There was the the 8-track player in the 1969 VW minibus that we all rocked out to on trips on the road with dad.

We listened to the radio in the kitchen and would hear all the new popular songs of the day.

I would sometimes bring a little record player to the dinner table and sit it on the seat next to me. My dad wasn’t home, and it would be just my mom and my sisters. I would put little 45 rpm records on and we would all sing to them. It was a riot!

I got into listening to some of my favorite songs and bands recently on Spotify and thought about creating a playlist of all the music we heard in our house growing up as kids. Not just the music we owned, but all the theme songs from our favorite shows that were on TV in the 60s and 70s.

At first I thought it would be cool to share it with my sisters for nostalgic reasons. But then I thought, wouldn’t it be great to share it with all of the people who might remember some of these songs from their past as well.

So I’ve decided to add to the anticipation of the Lawndale book coming out next week and share it with everybody as a soundtrack to the book.

Some of the songs you may not recognize but some will make you smile and take you back to a simpler time. This is an eclectic mix of music and themes from the 60s and 70s that were alive in our house at 312 Magee growing up.

I hope you enjoy it, and maybe you’ll listen to it in the background while reading my book! (Don’t worry if you don’t have a Spotify account. It’s free and you can just go on and check it out!)

Here it is! The 312 Magee soundtrack!

https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/5nQ0QYz4dBIphiU7hiIZR4?utm_source=generator

I hope you all enjoy listening to this as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I’d also be happy to add any songs I may have forgotten!

Enjoy!

LAWNDALE the book will be available on Amazon next Tuesday on August 9th!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please like, comment, and most of all, FOLLOW Phicklephilly! I publish every week on Tuesdays.

Wildwood Daze – Botto’s and the Office

North Wildwood, New Jersey – Late 1970s

Botto’s

One of our favorite hangouts growing up at the shore was the beloved Botto’s Arcade at 10th and Surf Avenue. It was 2 blocks from our house and was a meeting place for the local kids.

In the first half of the decade, it was a small market full of food staples, sundries, and beach stuff. It’s where we used to go to buy our kites and string. But because Russo’s Market at 9th and Ocean was such a juggernaut and go-to spot they sort of ran Joe Botto out of business. Just geographic competition. Botto, a retired Philly cop, was never happy about that, but shifted gears and turned it into an arcade much to the joy of the neighborhood youth.

Botto’s had everything we needed for an enjoyable afternoon or evening as an alternative to the beach and boardwalk. A phonebooth outside in case you had to drop a dime and make a call, and a soda machine full of ice-cold beverages stood out front. Joe’s wife normally worked during the day, giving out change for the machines inside and operating the bike rental part of the business.

The place was small, but just the right size for us kids. A regulation-sized, slate pool table in the center of the room, and a thunderous jukebox packed with 45’s of all the hits of the day parked against the front wall near the entrance. (It played A and B sides! This way, I could listen to Walk this Way and Uncle Salty!)

All around the perimeter of the room were pinball machines and video games. My favorite pinball machine, Flash was where I spent most of my time and quarters. They had some of the greats… Eight Ball Deluxe, Gorgar, Wizard, Playboy, El Dorado, and Joker Poker, to name a few.

But, they had all the classic video games of the day in there too. Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Super Breakout, and Asteroids.

Botto’s was a place where teenagers could hang out, play games, chat, flirt, shoot pool, drink soda and smoke cigarettes. The owners were cool, and there was never any trouble there. I’ve spent many a rainy day or health night in that arcade. The phrase “health night” came from my mother. She used to say to me, “You’re out every night! Take a health night!”

You never knew who you might run into while you were there, but it was always a solid meeting spot to hang and make plans for where you may be heading afterward. It was surrounded by motels so even though its core audience was kids from the neighborhood, they always got a few tourists in there as well.

Across the street was a place called Golf City. It was pretty much a waste of valuable real estate that was home to a miniature gold course. Fun for the little kids and they had a small arcade as well, but overall it was lame.

Botto’s was the cool kid’s place. I spent many wonderful times in Botto’s in my youth, but sadly it’s now long gone. What stands in its place now is an ice cream stand.

All that’s left to remind me of the original Botto’s in the brick face and the door and windows. So picture this place without the A-roof, the awning, the sign, the benches, the lights, and the rest of anything pink.

What’s left would be a pretty boring-looking spot. But, none of that was important. Botto’s was about what was inside. The people, the music, the games, and the laughter.

The Office

That’s not what it was called. It was a little game room on the third floor of The Flying Dutchman Motel.

Right there on the southwest corner of the 3rd floor!

The photo I used at the beginning of this post is the motel before they added the 3rd floor. But that’s what The Flying Dutchman looked like in the 70s.

We knew the owners and they were cool with us going up there to smoke cigarettes and spend our quarters on their vending machines in their game room.

The reason we called this little spot The Office, is because we used it not only as a place to hang out and play but to have meetings. If there was some local drama going down or some stories to be told, this was the place it all took place.

I remember trying to tell my older sister some convoluted story about some things that had gone down on Morey’s Pier or some other crazy news from the neighborhood one day. She was trying to understand what we planned to do about this matter and I simply said: “Office…now.”

We liked it because it was high up off the street. We had a view and also liked the games they had in there. Just two pinball machines and an old 1972 Pong machine. There’s a link I provided, but it was so basic it may have been the first video game ever invented. But a fun game! Pinball was still king, but video games were getting better with every coming season.

The biggest difference between this place and Botto’s was, this spot was quieter and more private. You could hang up there, sit at the card table they had set up in there, and just chat. It didn’t have the number of games and music that Botto’s had, but this was our spot. Most of all, it was unsupervised.

This is probably one of the most important aspects of this little game room.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Pinball machines are designed so that you can’t rock them around too much or they’ll “Tilt.” What that means is, if you shake the machine too much or lift it up to slow the ball down or anything else to upset the machine while the ball is in play, it’ll light up, TILT, and the unit goes off and your ball drains down the hole. You’re done for being too rough with the unit and most of all trying to cheat.

But kids are creative, cunning, learning machines. You know that if the adults come up with some solution to thwart our fun or sustained play, we’ll probably work to come up with a solution to beat it.

So while the machine was on, we’d have one kid gently lift the lower front up off its legs and stack quarters under the legs, one or two at a time. This would flatten the play area on the board but not enough to TILT the machine. We’d get that baby up as high as possible. This would slow down the gameplay and go virtually unnoticed if someone walked in.

By applying this simple remedy, the game would be easier, you’d get a higher score and rack up more free games. That was the main goal. Free games! 

This also assisted with the legendary, “Back from the Dead.” What this meant was if you were in the middle of a game and the ball somehow got past your flippers, and towards the hole… if it was moving fast enough to bounce back out of the hole and back into play, it was always deemed a miracle, which was met with cheers from any onlookers. The ball literally came back from th dead!

So, we did that all the time up there.

Sometimes I would just go up there on my own and play pinball. I just wanted a little time alone to think and reflect on my life living at the seashore all summer. It was a brilliant and unforgettable few chapters from my young life.

Braces off, skin clear, and finally emerging from puberty!

Here’s a pic of me in 1978 on the 3rd-floor sun deck of The Flying Dutchman. The Office wasn’t just for pinball. It was also a great opportunity for me to meet the vacationing talent.

Pictured: Me with Ann and Gina Dougherty on the roof deck of the Flying Dutchman Motel -1978

Yea… tough times for Chaz in Wildwood!

If you liked this story, you’ll love my next book, Down The Shore, coming to a bookstore near you Memorial Day, 2023!

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

Wildwood Daze – The Dolphin Restaurant – Part 2

North Wildwood, New Jersey – Summer, 1978

The girl I worked with was named Therese. (Pronounced: Terez, which makes it so much sexier and exotic) But Therese was just a nice girl who like myself had been moved to this island as a teenager. She told me she was originally from DC and went to Wildwood Catholic High School. She was 16 and I was 15 at the time. I’d be forced to move to the island the very next year, but that’s another story.

Therese said she was miserable and lonely when she first moved to Wildwood. The place was a resort and it was literally a ghost town in the winter. She said that the kids were mean to her and she described her experience in Wildwood Catholic as being like a scared little animal.

But Therese was absolutely beautiful. What made her lovely to me wasn’t just her lovely smile, sparkling eyes, and world-class legs… she had a sweet disposition. She was one of those girls who’s hot but doesn’t know it. Just a really nice, moral person. I loved her and I think she was my first “#1 most beloved”.

I knew she had a boyfriend. Some “Joe College Type” who was tall and good-looking named John. She was taken and there was no way I could compete with an 18-year-old guy on his way to university in August. It was like pitting a boy against a man. An unwinnable war.

But I was just happy to work beside her in the restaurant every day. After the morning rush, we’d clean up the dining room and start doing our side work. They were little maintenance chores we all had to do to prepare for the next shift. I would always blaze through mine early so I could help Therese. Sometimes I would even do her side work for her without her knowing. So when the time came for her to have to do it, I had already completed it for her and she could just leave.

I remember once I had taken care of some arduous task for her that she didn’t want to do. She rewarded me with a peck on my cheek. I blushed and felt like my head was going to explode. I was so smitten!

She knew I was crazy about her and instead of it being weird, she was always sweet to me. It was so obvious. She was like my queen. I understood what Eddie the dishwasher was experiencing with his feelings for hot Sue across the street. The unattainable goddesses we desire but can never have. We just scuttle along washing our dishes and carrying our bus pans like the rodents we are.

“So sorry to hear about John getting into that boating accident.” I would say to Therese.

“What?”

“Oh… right. That’s not until next week.”

Even back then I had a twisted sense of humor. But Therese would just laugh knowing I secretly wanted her boyfriend out of the way, so I could be the king to her queen. (So diabolical!)

I knew John was leaving for college and Therese was sad her boyfriend was leaving. I was relieved that this obstacle was being extracted from the equation and maybe I could make some sort of move. It was risky, but even at 16 years old I knew fortune favored the bold. What would my idol Dave Bradley do? I needed to talk to him tomorrow on the beach.

“Just walk up to her when she’s on her own in the dining room near the end of the night and ask her out.”

“That’s it? No special instructions or any kind of move?”

“Just have a plan, my friend. Don’t just ask her out, have something you want to do with her. Think it through. Nail down a time and a day. You’ll be fine.”

“Umm… okay, Dave.”

The next night it was around 8 pm and we were cleaning up the dining room after getting run over by tourists. I went over to one of Therese’s tables as she was picking up the check and her tip. I loaded the dirty plates into my bus pan.

“Hey… Crazy night, right?”

“Yea. My feet are killing me. I’ve been running around here all night like crazy!”

“Umm… (I smiled as I looked upon her beauty. My heart thumping in my chest and my stomach doing flip flops) Therese, would you like to go to the movies with me the next time we’re both off?”

She paused, then smiled. “Sure, Chaz. What do you want to see?”

I was stunned. This was actually working. Don’t blow it… “I was thinking Animal House. I heard it’s hilarious.”

“Oh, yea. Me too. I wanna see Animal House. I’m off on Thursday, would that work?”

This was too easy! “Yea… I’m off too. I’ll get the showtimes and we’ll figure it out this week.”

“Great. It’ll be fun. Thanks for asking me.”

I smiled and went back to cleaning. I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I stared at the reflection of the young man who would be taking Therese Freeman on an actual date. This was a watershed moment. These sorts of things didn’t happen to guys like me. Or did they? I had been on a couple of dates last summer. I had navigated these treacherous waters before. She was just a girl I worked with. No reason to be nervous. Just a couple of coworkers checking out a funny film together. No big deal.

But no… this was a big deal. This was my queen. The woman I loved. The unattainable was nearly in my grasp. I needed to play it cool and not screw anything up before Thursday. I could hardly think over the sound of Aerosmith’s song, Back in the Saddle blasting in my head as the dopamine splashed all over my euphoric brain. This was the big time. A date with Therese Freeman. Dave Bradley would be proud, and his lecherous brother Chickie would be jealous.

Welcome to the NFL, Chaz!

The next night we worked the same shift again. I had already looked up the movie times in the newspaper and knew exactly where and when we were going to see this movie. “Planning is everything”, as my father used to say. We coordinated the time and Therese wrote down her phone number and address on a slip of paper.

Just having that data in my hands was worth a fortune to me. Things were definitely happening in my life! Everything was getting better. I just needed to survive this date with Therese and not screw it up.

Later, I was in the kitchen emptying my bus pan and Chickie Bradley was there doing the dishes. Therese walked in and dropped off some plates from one of her tables. Chickie immediately hit on her. (The filthy animal!)

“Hey, yo… Therese, we should uh… you know… go out some time.”

My heart sank with rage and despair. Chickie Bradley could get any woman. He was a rake and had a reputation for closing deals. He probably had so many notches in his bedpost that it was whittled away completely!

Therese smiled and spoke. “I wouldn’t go out with you if you were the last man on earth, Chickie Bradley.”

She glanced over at me, gave me a knowing grin, and left the kitchen.

As the big wooden doors to the dining room swung back behind her I could feel Chickie’s spirit exit his body. I was in my glory. I’m indestructible now. A real player in the game of life. New confidence and power coursed through my veins. This was a fantastic moment in my young life. Say hello to the new king, Chickie Bradley! Take that!

Thursday arrived and I was terrified. My anxiety was off the charts. This wasn’t just a date to the movies with a coworker. This was Therese Freeman. A date with the queen. I was a nervous wreck. I had the power and the nerve to ask these girls out, but my anxiety would be tearing me apart before the event. It was absolutely as horrible. The pain equaled the joy I had felt the other night when she said yes.

It just didn’t seem fair. Why was I like this? I wanted to go out on dates with girls but was always in a terrible state leading up to it. Little did I know, this would go on for years and years. Anxiety and depression are the worst. An unexplainable fear and sadness you carry around with you. Where your friends and family are happy and excited to do things, you are crushed with blackened fear that squeezes your heart to near paralysis.

It was so bad, that my family actually had a little acronym for me. They used to call me The ARM. That stood for Anxiety Ridden Mess. Isn’t that lovely?

Thanks, family. YOU’RE NOT HELPING!!!!

Acute anxiety disorder. How do you overcome it? I’ll tell you how. Without drugs or medicine. You’re born this way, and you literally have to keep walking toward the things you fear the most. You have to do this over and over for maybe decades. Most people aren’t willing to do this, nor do they possess the inner strength to carry out this incredible burden. You have to rewire your brain to keep walking towards that which you fear. After a while, you realize you’re not going to throw up or die from going into the unknown.

If you’re willing to do that, you’ll succeed and not only overcome it, you’ll realize something wonderful. After all of those years of being afraid and sad, you’ve become stronger in spirit than most. You’ve spent years overcompensating for those fears. You’re more charming and cool around people because you’ve been performing like that for years. You then become an even better version of yourself than you ever realized.

People will call your charm a gift of gab, or a special way with people. No. Quite the contrary. You simply practiced for years to mentally overcome your disability. I did it, and you can too.

Back to the story…

I remember lying in the bathtub in our upstairs bathroom before the date. I thought maybe a nice cool bath would calm my shattered nerves. The clock ticked away the minutes ever faster as the deadline approached when I’d have to leave the house and pick up Therese.

This is an awful feeling. Why did I even bother asking her out? This is too much for me to handle. I’m out of my element!

I pulled myself out of the tub and got ready. I want to do this. I asked for it and she said yes, so this is definitely happening. I did everything I could to calm my mind but to no avail.

I remember my dad handing me some extra cash in case I wanted to buy her ice cream on the way home from the movie. Dad comes through in the clutch again!

I walked up our street west on 8th street. I walked past the ball fields. I lingered there for a few minutes to gather my courage. I figured if I had to throw up, now would be the time. I remember one of my friends later told me they saw me milling about there and I appeared to be talking to myself. (Yea, it was that nuts.)

I get to 5th and New Jersey Ave. and approach her house. I look down and carved into the pavement is her name in the concrete. It even had the two little accents over the vowels and everything. Of course, her name should be carved in stone forever. She’s Therese!

I step onto the porch and tap on the screen door. It starts to get a little fuzzy here. I don’t remember meeting any parents. Maybe her family was out or something. But I do remember Therese just chilling in her living room in a lovely blouse and a pair of white slacks. She looked awesome. I had only seen her in her waitress uniform. Here she was. All ready to go on a date to the movies with Chaz.

I don’t remember what we talked about on the walk to the theater. Probably work and general stuff about our friends and families. I was too terrified to be on record mode during that trip. I think Animal House was playing all the way down at the Shore Twin which was on Atlantic Avenue, west of Marine Pier. (Later, Mariners Landing)

I still have half of the ticket from that night. I even wrote her name on it and kept it to memorialize the event.

The film was great. Animal House is one of the funniest comedies ever made. The late, great John Belushi is brilliant in the role of Bluto Blutarsky. This movie solidified his stardom.

Therese laughed a lot and I knew this was a good choice. I always later told my friends who lacked experience with dating to always pick a movie. I would tell them that it was two hours you get to spend with her and you don’t have to talk or seem interesting. You let the movie make the night great and fun. If she’s having a good time at the movies, then she’ll associate you with fun and exciting feelings. It’s just science, folks.

I had a wonderful time that evening and so did Therese. I was happy to just spend time with her and be close to a girl I really liked. She was the sweetest thing. I walked her up to her doorstep and sealed the evening with a kiss.

I probably skipped all the way home that night. My older sister was there and asked me how the evening went. I gave her the thumbs up and was happy I survived it. She knew I was nervous about it and was worried about me.

It was pretty great to be the only guy that got a date with Therese after her boyfriend went off to college. I think being brave and a gentleman goes a long way. Women just know.

I didn’t really see Therese after that summer. I moved on to a job at Hunt’s Pier. We did stay in touch a little though. I still have her letters. She went into the medical field. Of course, someone as sweet as Therese would have a job where she helps people.

I ran into her once back in the 1990s in Stone Harbor, NJ. I was staying at my wife’s family’s shore house up in Avalon. I was standing out on 96th Street while my wife was in some shop.

I just suddenly saw Therese standing there like an apparition from my past. It had been over 15 years since I’d seen her. My heart leaped at the sight of her. She still looked smoking hot.

I said her name and she turned. It was an amazing moment. After all of this time, here she was. We chatted a bit and caught up.

Thoughts of the gift shop suddenly bursting into flames and my wife dying in the fire and Therese having to comfort me with my sudden loss came to mind… but only for a second. (Oh, stop it… I’m kidding!)

I noticed she had a little brace on her arm near her wrist. I asked her what had happened and she told me she had rheumatoid arthritis. I found this heartbreaking but told her my mother suffered from the very same thing. I thought, how can there be a god when this kind of stuff happens to perfectly wonderful people? It’s not fair.

It was great seeing her and I couldn’t wait to tell my family who I had run into in Stone Harbor that day. They all knew I adored Therese since the 70s.

I haven’t seen her since, but at least we’re friends on social media!

I’m so glad I have all of these great memories to wrap myself up in and share with you. Thanks for reading this. I really enjoyed writing about the restaurant and of course my queen!

Thanks for saying yes that day in 1978 and going on a date with me. It meant the world to me.

I will always love you, Therese!

Here’s a pic of Therese I found on Facebook. It was taken around 2012.

A stunning beauty!

On a final note, I earned around $500 that summer. I was becoming a serious self-taught musician and decided to make an investment. You can see what that was here.

Want to learn more about RA? Go here: https://www.aiarthritis.org/

or here: https://www.facebook.com/IFAiArthritis

or here: https://www.facebook.com/TerezFreemanHumphrey/?ref=page_internal

If you liked this story, you’ll love my next book, Down The Shore, coming to a bookstore near you Memorial Day, 2023!

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

Wildwood Daze – The Dolphin Restaurant – Part 1

North Wildwood, New Jersey – Summer, 1978

I was turning 16 years old that summer. I had had great success working as a pool boy the summer before at the El Morro Motel. But I wanted to do something else. So working as a busboy at the Dolphin Restaurant seemed like a good progression. There was a small salary plus tips and free meals so it just made sense.

Now that I think back on my time as a pool boy at the El Morro Motel, I was earning a flat $40 a week. But I worked 7 days a week from 7 am till noon. Then I had to go back every night at 7 pm and bring the cushions in from all of the lounge chairs around the pool. So I roughly worked over 35 plus hours a week there for $40. That’s like a dollar an hour! (As Napoleon Dynamite would say)

It wasn’t a bad job at the Dolphin because I normally worked days and some nights, but the night shift was from around 4 pm until 7 or 8 pm. It would be busy in the morning for breakfast, then quiet down around lunchtime. Everybody would be at the beach so the place was dead from 1 pm until 5 pm.

Then it would pick up again as families and groups came in to grab dinner before heading off to the boardwalk for the evening.

The owners were a nice Greek couple. Bill and Lanie. Bill ran the line in the kitchen and Lanie was the hostess and cashier out front. The Greeks are brilliant people. They start these restaurants, work their butts off and bring their whole family over to work. The Dolphin was also in a great location. Close to the beach and surrounded by motels. So there was always plenty of foot traffic from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

This was the sign on the roof of the restaurant. How cool is that? A life-sized dolphin that rotated on the sign. A creative, retro artifact. That had to be expensive to design and construct. That’s pride, baby.

Here’s the actual feature restored to its original glory. (Photo courtesy of the Wildwood Historical Society)

The job was easy. I liked the people I worked with. The waitresses were all nice and so were the setup girls. Waitresses were normally around 16 or 17, and set up girls and busboys were 14 and 15 years old.

We had a great time working together. We liked and hated all the same things working in a restaurant. Especially when a huge family would roll in and had kids. The dreaded high chairs for babies. We all knew there’d be plenty of food to clean up off the floor! But for the most part it was a fun and lively place to work.

I remember when I turned 16 that summer the girls had a little party for me and got me Supertramp’s latest album, Breakfast in America. Which seemed fitting based on our vocation and the image on the album cover.

Breakfast in America - Wikipedia

I just realized something for the first time. The image is the view from the window of a plane. The waitress represents the Statue of Liberty and the table in the background is New York.

How did I miss this back in 1978? I guess I was too busy listening to my Aerosmith albums!

Anyway, it was nice to have a job where I was surrounded by other people. When I was a pool boy I was an army of one. It was just me working as the entire maintenance crew for the motel.

But now there was a whole cast of characters I worked with every day. There were all the macho Greek guys working as cooks in the steaming hot kitchen, the ladies working in the dining room, and the wait staff.

One afternoon I was walking across the parking lot about to enter through the back door. We all went inside that way. You’d go in, turn right into this little room and find an apron to wear for the night.

Standing outside in the parking lot, leaning against the wall was one of the Greek cooks. I forget his name. Just picture a tan, swarthy-looking, Mediterranean guy with a head full of black curls and a bushy mustache.

He was smoking a really fat joint. He sees me and offers me a toke. He says: “Smoke pot? Here…” and points the joint at me. Not wanting to appear to be the wimp I was, I took it from his fingers and hit it. Just one hit. That was it. I thanked him and went inside. Mission accomplished. I’ve paid the gatekeeper and showed him I’m cool too.

It didn’t hit me until I sat down at the middle table with all of the rest of the wait staff before our shift was to begin. We would all hang there and Lanie would go over any last-minute specials and whatever else we needed to know.

I had this stupid grin on my face and all of the girls instantly picked up on it. They were all laughing at me, and I couldn’t believe that it was instantly apparent I was high. I did my best to hide it from Lanie so she wouldn’t send me home for illegal drug use. During my shift, I confided in one of the other busboys named Grover. He was an older friend of the family but a cool dude. He said he had gotten high once before work and it made him feel like everyone in the restaurant was staring at him.

Since he said that to me, I now thought the very same thing. He had implanted a fresh paranoid thought in my hallucinogenic head. I looked around and everybody WAS staring at me. (They weren’t but I thought they were. They were just glancing over at me because I was part of the staff. But in my stoned brain I thought they were staring and knew I was baked!)

I spent most of the night giggling my way through my shift.

“Why you so silly tonight, Charlie?” Lanie asked in her broken accent.

“I… I don’t know. I just guess… I’m just a silly guy sometimes.”

Totally lame response, but I managed to get through my shift.

Lanie had a sister or a cousin that came to work there for a period of time. She spoke zero English and was sometimes really annoying to be around because no one could understand what she was saying. It was really frustrating. So one night when she was getting on my nerves… anything she would say to me, I would respond with a big smile and say a bunch of nonsense to her. It helped pass the night and I sort of liked that I could say whatever I wanted to her without any repercussions from the owners. I just kept smiling and bussing my tables.

There was usually a rotating cast of clowns that worked as dishwashers. Most notable was this guy named Eddie. He was the classic loser. The guy who resembled something out of a 1950s teen drama. The stained T-shirt, the slicked-back hair. The punk who always wanted to run with the cool guys and outlaws, but was always caught by the cops because he was too dumb to pull off any kind of heist. He had the worst job in the restaurant and the one that took the least skill and finesse, but he seemed happy enough doing his job. Sadly, he was socially inept and everyone just sort of tolerated his presence.

One day he starts going on about this girl he’s in love with. He describes her as the most beautiful girl on the island, and he’s going to make her his girlfriend. We had no idea who he was talking about. We figured he made her up! Also, in a town like Wildwood in the summer, how could anyone make such an assumption? The island was teeming with beautiful women!

But one day he reveals that she’s the ice cream girl from across the street at a shop called The Corner Store.  So we decide to see what’s up. Turns out she’s the eldest daughter of the owner of the Corner Store. Her mother used to work at the Provident National Bank in Philly back in the 70s with my father. I didn’t know any of this at the time, but Eddie was right. Her daughter Susan was a spectacular beauty. Dark tan, tawny hair like Farrah Fawcett and piercing blue eyes. Drop-dead gorgeous but unassuming. She was probably simply doing her job and was cordial to Eddie and he instantly fell in love with her. But I get it…

I had designs on one of the waitresses that I worked with at the Dolphin. Back then and for many years after that, I put women on a pedestal. Actually, I put certain people on pedestals for no reason other than I thought they were awesome. I think it was tied to my low self-esteem. I was just happy to be in the presence of the cool and the beautiful.

There was this guy who would work there sometimes as a dishwasher at night named Chickie Bradley. He was cute but all the girls knew he was a womanizing devil. He had an older brother named Dave who was super cool though. Dave ran an umbrella stand on the beach at 5th street. Dave was cool because he had his own apartment for the summer and would let me and my friend hang out at his umbrella stand with him. He was probably 18 years old at the time so he was basically a man and light years ahead of me in terms of any sort of masculine powers.

I would stop over his apartment and he would put on The Rolling Stones latest album, Some Girls and that’s what really got me into the Stones. He’d always offer me a cold bottle of Miller and I felt like such a big shot just to be in the same room with Dave. He was just so cool. But a nice guy who would let younger guys like me hang out. I knew I couldn’t go on his nocturnal adventures with him because I was too young, but it was just nice to hang.

He once told me that his landlord was talking about throwing him and his brother Chickie out of the apartment they were staying in for the summer. When I asked him why he said that the neighbors were complaining that it looked like they were running some kind of brothel out of the apartment.

I thought this was amazing. Just knowing a guy that could have so many girls and get them to come over all the time. This was beyond my imagination. I barely had the courage to even talk to most girls to try to get a date. But these guys were apparently lotharios that could just pull in the ladies with their wit and charm.

I remember Dave had some sort of problem with his larynx. It gave him this low hoarse voice. But that made him even cooler. When I would appear before him, he’d always say:

“Hello. my friend.” In that dark voice.

Dave was my idol.

A super cool dude, whose cousin I would later date 7 years later. But that’s another story. (Don’t worry. I’ll get to them all!)

However, there was this one special girl with whom I worked at the Dolphin that I found especially appealing.

To be continued tomorrow…

If you liked this story, you’ll love my next book, Down The Shore, coming to a bookstore near you Memorial Day, 2023!

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

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What Is Glamboozling? This Dating Trend Is Unbelievably Annoying

I kind of like saying the word, Glamboozle…

With all of the wacky dating trends that happen in the world, I feel like I’ll never run out of material for this blog!

It sucks being all dressed up with nowhere to go. But do you know what sucks worse? Getting all dressed up with the intention of going somewhere, only to have your date cancel at the last minute. If this has ever happened to you, then I’m sorry to say you’ve been subject to a dating trend called glamboozling. Glamboozling means that you’ve blown out your hair, given yourself a mani, and even spent 30 minutes perfecting your winged eyeliner only for your date to send a text saying, “Sry. Can’t make it tonight.” And honestly, I can think of few things worse than wasting a great cat eye because of an unreliable date.

According to Plenty of Fish, a staggering 58% of singles have been glamboozled. As Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist, previously told Elite Daily, canceling plans on the day of should only be done if you have a really valid excuse — and if you don’t have one, then your date deserves more notice. “[You] should have a good reason to cancel a date last-minute, because otherwise, that’s just rude and inconsiderate,” she said. And not only does flaking on a date pose an inconvenience — it’s also a terrible waste of makeup.

Glamboozling is a new dating trend
Ashley Corbin-Teich/Image Source/Getty Images

Luckily, if you want to avoid being glamboozled, there are a few signs that indicate your date is likely to cancel. According to Julia Armet, Head of Matchmaking at Tawkify, if your date has already postponed your meet-up once, there’s a good chance they’ll do it again. “Avoidant types have trouble solidifying plans,” Armet previously told Elite Daily. “Interestingly, you’ll also see the same ‘postponement’ mentality in people who have commitment issues. That can emerge deeper into relationships. Odds would say for these types: they’ll flake on you.” So basically, you shouldn’t get dressed up in your best outfit if the person taking you out has asked for a rain check in the past.

Another sign your date is probably going to flake: They’re difficult to get a hold of the day of the date. If you haven’t heard from them at least an hour before your date, then you might want to wait before curling your eyelashes. And if you want to make sure you’re not stood up, Armet suggested texting or calling your date ahead of time to make sure they’re still on board.

Glamboozling is a new dating trend
visualspace/E+/Getty Images

Of course, the reason glamboozling stings so bad doesn’t just have to do with wasting a good hair day. As Dr. Alexandra Solomon, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, previously told Elite Daily, when a date cancels on you, it can ignite feelings of vulnerability, whether it’s your first date or your 100th date with someone. You might feel as though your date doesn’t value your time or prioritize your relationship, no matter how serious that relationship may be, and that’s not a great feeling.

My advice: If you’re glamboozled, find an opportunity to show off your outfit anyway. Rather than sulking, the best way to beat this dating trend is to call up a friend and make other plans. You can’t always prevent a date from being canceled last minute, but you can decide how you’re going to react.

 

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10 Things Deep Women Will Never Tolerate In A Relationship

Deep women are strong women.

They know their worth. Besides, they know exactly what they want and what to avoid in a relationship.

The bar is raised high, so if you are in love with a deep woman, here are the 10 things she would never tolerate in a relationship.

1. Disrespect is unforgivable

If at any point you make a deep woman feel like her time isn’t valuable for you, or she is not your top priority, you can kiss her and your relationship goodbye. These women know exactly what they’re made of, and they don’t need anyone who doesn’t appreciate them the way they should. They know they deserve better. Most importantly, they know how to get better.

2. Empty excuses never work with a deep woman

Just take responsibility when you’re wrong. A deep woman will never tolerate empty made-up excuses. It’s much better to admit it was your fault, and to apologize than to twist the story and think of fake pretexts. Deep women are intelligent, they know how to spot a fake excuse, so don’t bother.

3. Deep women hate being controlled

You can’t try to stop a deep woman from being herself. Neither you can control her. When you are in a relationship with her, it doesn’t mean she’s yours. She is not a trophy you put on the nightstand. If she wants to do something, she will, regardless of your actions against it. Moreover, if a deep woman feels like you’re taking her freedom away, you are probably going to be history in no time.

4. Lying and cheating disgust deep women

It’s simple – don’t lie. Deep women can easily recognize when someone is lying to them, especially if this someone is their partner. You need to be open and honest with a deep woman. Otherwise, you won’t even have a chance with her. As for cheating, it shouldn’t even cross your mind. Some girls might forgive you after finding out you’ve had an affair. But not this one. She knows she has better things coming her way. A cheater is not worth her time.

5. Don’t waste her time if you’re not sure how you feel about her

You either get in or get gone. If you get gone, then stay gone. A deep woman doesn’t need someone who isn’t sure of her. If you haven’t made your mind about your feelings for her, better don’t while away her time. She is not going to wait around for you to decide whether you love her or not.

6. Never hold a deep woman back from her dreams

Deep women are ambitious and visionary. They know what they’re capable of and they already have a plan to achieve everything they want in life. As a partner of a deep woman, your job is to support her and stand by her as she becomes the incredible woman she is destined to be. Holding her back from her dreams won’t do any good for you. If you can’t provide the support she needs, better leave her alone.

7. Don’t even think of manipulating a deep woman

It’s difficult enough to outsmart a deep woman. Manipulating her would definitely be a tough task. In case you somehow trick her into doing things or going places, she will quickly see through your intentions.  Your mind-games won’t last long, so better don’t even think of starting them.

8. Deep women don’t accept emotional abuse

These powerful women can spot a toxic person in just a few minutes. They will not stand for someone with emotional abusive behavior. The minute they sense such a destructive attitude, they will do anything to make sure they never see or speak to that person again.

9. Never neglect a deep woman

If you are in a relationship with a deep woman, she needs to feel like she is always your first choice. Maybe so far work came first in your life but now you better rearrange your priorities. She knows her time is priceless. If you dare to neglect her, she won’t bother waiting for your attention anymore.

10. Deep women don’t settle

A deep woman’s fire soul wouldn’t let her settle for no less than she deserves. She knows what she needs and what she can offer. Anything less than that just isn’t worth her time and attention. This may sound a bit selfish at first. However, it means that deep women are aware of how valuable and strong-willed they are, and this helps them get rid of any negative energy in their life. It’s not selfish, it’s genius.

Deep women are focused on their goals and they know how to get there.

It would take less than a split second for them to spot who is good for them, and who simply isn’t worth it.

 

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

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How Each Zodiac Sign Sabotages Their Chances Of Finding Love, According To Astrology

Love like you’ve never been hurt.

Love can really feel like a losing game. There’s no way to truly predict the outcome of a relationship. It’s not even uncommon for people in relationships to be unaware of what they want or think they want, only to realize they don’t actually want it at all.

Let’s say you end up getting the guy and the relationship you want. That doesn’t always mean it’s going to last. There could be a lot of unforeseen obstacles that result in a breakup. Past heartbreak, lack of trust, cheating, and red flags — all can lead to breakups.

We can’t always prevent breakups, but we can always learn from them. Unfortunately, each zodiac sign in astrology can sabotage their chances of finding lasting love.

Rather than asking yourself, “Will I ever find love?” don’t look at your past breakups as failures. Instead, look at them as experiences that are bringing you one step closer to learning what you want and deserve in a relationship.

Breakups make us aware of how we can become better partners in our next relationship. When we are aware of the characteristics we have that sabotage our love lives, we can start to improve upon them. Awareness is the key to having a better love life.

When you’re aware of your faults, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone makes stupid decisions when they’re blinded by love, so work towards not allowing your past mistakes to occur in your future partnerships.

If you’ve ever wondered if your zodiac sign plays a factor at the end of your relationship, it’s important to look at zodiac compatibility. Astrological compatibility is a good indicator of the likelihood your relationship will succeed.

ARIES (March 21 – April 19)

Aries want what they want — and they want it now. Compromise and patience are not their strong suits. In a relationship, these two factors are vital to its longevity. A relationship works around the needs and wants of two people, not just Aries. This “me first” mentality sabotages the whole relationship.

Aries needs to learn how to manage their anger. They cannot get upset with their partners over the smallest things. Erratic spells of anger can make the other partner feel unsafe because they are never certain how far Aries’ anger could escalate. This creates an unsafe environment.

TAURUS (April 20 – May 20)

Taurus can be very possessive in a relationship. They need to understand that they don’t own their partners. Their partner is a person, not an object. Both partners are individuals, even if they are in a committed relationship. Taurus’ possessive nature makes their partner feel trapped.

The jealousy that comes with the objectification of a partner never ends well. Too much jealousy is not a good thing in a relationship. Taurus’ partner will feel as though their partner doesn’t trust them.

GEMINI (May 21 – June 20)

Geminis can be really co-dependent. These social beautifies love to be in the company of others and enjoy being the center of attention. It’s great to spend quality time with your significant other, but you both should have your own lives. Gemini’s partner might feel smothered if they constantly want to hang out.

Geminis are extremely loyal, so if their partner isn’t the same, this will definitely cause a problem. They want to belive their partner is just as loyal as them. Any instances of disloyalty will cause Gemini to question their partner and the relationship, and they won’t be able to trust their partner after.

CANCER (June 21 – July 22)

Cancer’s manipulative characteristics ruin relationships for them. No one wants to feel as though their partner is pulling wool over their eyes. This will cause Cancer’s partner to question everything they say. The lack of trust that results from Cancer’s manipulation is the reason for the end of a relationship.

People want to feel that their partner has their best interest at heart. Cancer tends to have their own best interest at heart and often takes on the victim role. They don’t take responsibility for their wrongdoings.

LEO (July 23 – August 22)

Leos have very strong personalities. Their assertiveness can really be a turn-off because they don’t want to compromise. Leo’s confidence can turn into cockiness very fast, where they aren’t willing to hear their partner out or consider their opinions.

Leos like things to go their way. When they don’t, it doesn’t go well with them. They are stubborn people who don’t want to change their minds. Trying to get a Leo to try something that makes them uncomfortable is almost impossible.

VIRGO (August 23 – September 22)

Virgos are complete perfectionists. They want everything to go as planned. When it comes to relationships, things are hardly ever perfect. People make mistakes, so Virgo’s need for perfection can cause unnecessary conflicts. If they want their relationship to last they have to stop being so analytical.

Since Virgo is a perfectionist, they can be very critical of their partner. Being overly critical makes their partner feel self-conscious and not good enough. Virgo’s judgment is what makes it hard for them to have successful relationships.

LIBRA (September 23 – October 22)

Libra’s indecision can ruin relationships because they might not be sure how serious or chill they want the relationship to be. Mixed signals can be cute for a little bit, but they don’t sustain long-term relationships. Knowing where you stand defines the relationship’s tone, and Libra’s inability to make a choice can potentially cause them to lose great partners.

Libra’s struggle to open up also makes their partner feel distant. They never want to express their true emotions to maintain the harmony of the environment. Their obsessive need for balance can be the very cause of the demise of their relationship.

SCORPIO (October 23 – November 21)

Scorpios are very independent. They want to solve everything on their own. This can make their partner feel as if they don’t want them to truly be part of their lives. Scorpios struggle with making their partners feel unneeded. No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t make them feel wanted.

Since Scorpio is also secretive, they don’t want to share their business or be vulnerable. Part of being in a relationship is being able to share your life with someone, and this zodiac sign struggles with making room for their partner.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 – December 21)

Sagittarius overthink way too much, and overthinking kills relationships. Overthinking makes you come up with problems that don’t even exist or causes you to think the smallest problems are unsolvable. Sagittarius tend to stress themselves out over non-existent problems, which creates problems with their partner.

Sagittarius’ need to know everything doesn’t help a relationship either. People don’t want to feel forced into opening up, so Sagittarius has to learn how to allow people to open up on their own terms.

CAPRICORN (December 22 – January 19)

An important aspect of a relationship is forgiveness. You have to be willing to “forgive and forget” the wrongdoings of your partner. Unfortunately, Capricorns are not even close to being the most forgiving zodiac sign. When they get hurt by their partner, they don’t speak up to solve the problem. Instead, Capricorn acts as if nothing is wrong and continue to harbor resentment towards their partner.

When Capricorn bottles up all their emotions, this results in them not being able to be vulnerable with their partner, which makes them come off as distant. Emotional distance in a relationship is seldom good because your partner should be the first person you call when you’re at your highest and lowest moments. Capricorn’s partner will feel this emotional rift and start to feel inadequate.

AQUARIUS (January 20 – February 18)

Aquarius are not ones to express their feelings. They would much rather look at things from a logical perspective. Having a partner who can see things for what they truly are is great, but if they’re always thinking with their heads, they won’t be as sympathetic.

It’s hard for an Aquarius partner to relate to the emotional hardships their partner is dealing with because they’ll approach everything with logic. Sometimes when your partner tells you something, they just want to know that you hear and understand them. A solution isn’t always needed.

Aquarians aren’t much of commitment people either. They would much rather enjoy the freedom that comes from their independence, than feel trapped in a relationship. Aquarius can be perceived as detached in romantic relationships because they put their needs first.

PISCES (February 19 – March 20)

Pieces tend to come off as overly emotional. As you can imagine, that’s a turn-off for a lot of people. No one wants a significant other who cries because their ice cream cone fell or who can’t take constructive criticism.

In a relationship, it’s inevitable that your partner will do stuff that upsets you, and the only way to fix that is to say something about it. But when you’re dating a Pisces, it’s so much more difficult to be transparent about your dislikes because you’re worried about your feelings.

Pisces being overly sensitive makes their partner feel as though they have to walk around on eggshells. No one wants to have to tip-toe around tough topics with their significant other out of fear of them overreacting. This will definitely cause an emotional rift in the relationship if not resolved.

 

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

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Tales of Rock: Man Accidentally Trips On LSD For 9 Hours After Cleaning A Classic Synthesizer

Eliot Curtis accidentally tripped on LSD while fixing a vintage Buchla Model 100. He was tasked to repair a piece of history, but he didn’t expect to begin seeing history and time in front of him as tripped on acid. With his experience, he added another story to the history of the synthesizer, and it’s probably a good idea to making cleaning old equipment with gloves on a standard procedure.

The Buchla Model 100 was invented in the 1960s by Don Buchla of Berkeley. He completely immersed himself in counterculture, and in 1966, his synthesizers were put on a school bus converted to play music. The iconic bus of counterculture, Furthur, was purchased by Ken Kesey, an advocate for using acid. Among their crew was Owsley Stanley, a sound engineer and manufacturer of a potent strain of LSD. While these links can explain how the drug could’ve gotten on the synthesizer, it’s still unclear exactly how the LSD got on this specific one.

Curtis, the Broadcast Operations Manager for KPIX Televsion, was tasked with repairing the vintage analog music modular instrument they found in a closet at Cal State University East Bay’s music department. It was acquired by two music professors who taught in the university during the 1960s. During his repair, Curtis found something stuck under one of the knobs, and it appeared to be a crystal. He sprayed cleaning solvent on the residue to dissolve it a little bit, then he dislodged it from the knob to continue cleaning the area.

45 minutes later, Curtis began to feel strange tingling sensations. He speculated that he was tripping on LSD but thought that’s probably just his imagination. His original inkling, however, was true. His unexpected LSD trip lasted around nine hours.

Authorities later confirmed that residues of LSD were present on the instrument. According to reports, the place the synthesizer was stored made it possible for the LSD to remain potent. The machine was resting in a cool, dark place, so the drug’s potency was preserved so well that it was possible for the residue to be ingested through the skin. With his unexpected trip, Curtis learned a lot more about the 1960s counterculture than he could have ever imagined.

 

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Tales of Rock: The Night Rob Halford Saved Black Sabbath

When Metal Legends Collide…

In November 1992, Ozzy Osbourne was about to wrap up his supposedly final concert tour in support of the massively successful No More Tears album. Two “farewell” shows were scheduled at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, California.

To make these “retirement” concerts into an even bigger must-see event, the Osbourne camp reached out to Ozzy’s former band, Black Sabbath, with an offer to open the Costa Mesa shows. At the time, Sabbath was touring in support of 1992’s Dehumanizer album, which featured the return of vocalist Ronnie James Dio—the man who’d replaced Ozzy in Sabbath in 1980. Everybody thought this was a fabulous idea—except for Dio, who suspected that the invite was merely a back-door method to plant the seeds for a full fledged Sabbath/Ozzy reunion. Dio refused to do the shows and announced that he was leaving Black Sabbath for the second time.

No, sorry. I have more pride than that. A lot of bad things were being said from camp to camp, and it created this horrible schism. So, by them agreeing to play the shows in LA with Ozzy, that, to me, spelled out ‘reunion with Ozzy.’ And that obviously meant the end of our particular project.

— Ronnie James Dio

Various bootlegs of the Costa Mesa gigs. Note that the one on the top right says "with Rob Ralford." Ha!
Various bootlegs of the Costa Mesa gigs. Note that the one on the top right says “with Rob Ralford.” Ha! | Source

Enter Halford

In desperation, Sabbath’s Tony Iommi reached out to a fellow son of Birmingham to replace Dio for the two gigs: Rob Halford of Judas Priest fame. Rob was a free agent at the time, having split from Priest the previous year. He was also a massive Black Sabbath fan, so naturally he jumped at the chance to be their temporary front man. Legend has it that Rob only had two days to familiarize himself with Sabbath’s set list prior to the gigs.

Metal news traveled slower in those pre-internet days, so I imagine much of the audience in Costa Mesa must have been quite surprised to see Rob Halford take the stage with Sabbath on November 14th, 1992. By all accounts, the Metal God absolutely killed it, in spite of the short amount of prep time.

I’m sure that the bootleggers who were already there in force to capture Ozzy’s “last shows” on tape must have been absolutely thrilled to get the Halford/Sabbath combo as an added bonus. Their grainy VHS videos and scratchy audio recordings of the two gigs immediately became popular items in trading circles. For a brief time after the Costa Mesa shows, rumors circulated that Halford might be joining Black Sabbath full time, but obviously that never came to pass.

Night #1, Nov. 14, 1992 (Full Set)

Call for the Priest…

I own a CD of the second night’s show on November 15th (entitled The Priest Comes to the Sabbath), which seems to be the more common of the two nights available via bootleg. It’s obviously an audience recording (occasionally someone yells out “YEEEAAAAHHH!” or “WOOOOOO!” close to the recorder/mic and drowns out the music!) and unfortunately it’s missing the first song of the set (“The Mob Rules”), but aside from that it’s a decent quality recording of an amazing night in Heavy Metal history. Rob’s lack of rehearsal is most obvious during “Children of the Grave,” when he comes in at the wrong time and then has to repeat the first line of the song a moment later (whoops!). However, he quickly redeems himself with a fine rendition of Heaven and Hell‘s “Children of the Sea” (one of my all time favorite Sabbath tracks).

As the set goes on, I’d say that Rob’s singing style is better suited to the Dio era songs like “Neon Knights” and “Heaven and Hell,” but on the other hand, he does turn in some killer performances of Ozzy-era classics too, especially “N.I.B.” and “Into the Void.”

The crowd is clearly having a blast throughout the set, and it sounds like Rob himself is pretty damn jazzed to be singing for one of his favorite bands, too. I guess even Metal Gods can still have fanboy moments!

Night #2—November 15, 1992 (Full Set)

The Aftermath

Ozzy’s planned “retirement” didn’t last long. He was back out on the road again only a few years after the Costa Mesa shows, and Black Sabbath kept on truckin’ as well. Their paths frequently crossed with Ozzy’s during the late 90s at the man’s annual OzzFest attractions. Sabbath also managed to mend fences with the estranged Ronnie James Dio, releasing 2009’s The Devil You Know album with him (under the moniker “Heaven & Hell”) before Ronnie’s tragic death in 2010. A full fledged Ozzy/Sabbath reunion resulted in the 13 album, released in 2013, and a farewell tour.

Rob Halford spent the rest of the ’90s dabbling in street-level groove metal with his solo project Fight and electronic rock with the band “Two.” He returned to Priest style traditional metal with his Halford solo band before he rejoined Judas Priest in 2004.

Amazingly, Halford’s association with Black Sabbath wasn’t quite over yet. Judas Priest was taking part in the 2004 OzzFest tour, headlined by an Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath, when Ozzy came down with a bout of bronchitis at the Camden, New Jersey date. Rob was asked to step in for Sabbath once again, and even though he had already performed a full set with Judas Priest that day, he was still able to belt out an additional set of classics with Sabbath that night! “Iron Man” indeed!

“Paranoid” With Rob Halford—2004

 

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