My Father – 1929 to 2016 – Diamonds and Rust – Part 1

Well I’ll be damned
Here comes your ghost again.
But that’s not unusual.
It’s just that the moon is full
And you happened to call
And here I sit
Hand on the telephone
Hearing a voice I’d known
A couple of light years ago
Heading straight for a fall.

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Note: I wrote this a year ago when I was still feeling salty about a lot of things. I’m fine. I’ve forgiven everyone and life is better than it’s ever been here in Philly. There may be moments in this tome that seem angry or bitter. I am not either of these things. I’m just telling a story about a man who struggled with himself and my relationship with him.

I have done dozens of edits on this peice and even thought about cancelling the series the night before it was published. But I have to go with my gut and just tell the story.

One day I’ll be gone too. But this will blog will live on the internet forever.

And I know no forever.

Everything in you life is finite.

The only thing that feels like forever is the Universe.

“The universe is everything that ever was, is, or ever will be with no limit to time and space.”

The rest of everything and what we are is simply dust in the wind.

 

The holidays are rapidly approaching Dad and you’ve been gone for a couple of years. I was looking at some family photos recently, and I saw one in particular. It was your wedding photo with mom. A couple starting their life together full of promise and hope.

I was listening to the rock opera, Tommy by the Who. A brilliant rock opera you turned me on to in the basement of our original home in Northeast Philly.  I listen to all kinds of different music all of the time, but something happened during this combination of words and music.

I looked hard at the photo and the first thing that struck me was what a beautiful bride my mother was. The next thing was how much my sister Janice’s son looks like you. Thankfully he has more hair and a sweeter disposition, but the eyes and smile are there.

Janice has always been more like you than the rest of us. I love her very much and she’s definitely not you but most like you of any of the kids in this family. I’m definitely A Barr from mom’s side of the family. (Barr is my Mom’s maiden name.) Her brothers were charming, musical guys that kept their hair, youth and liked to drink and hang out with the ladies. My daughter Lorelei agrees that we are both Barrs.

April, our middle sister is probably a combo of my grandmother on mom’s side and your Aunt Margaret. Fiery, with a take no prisoners personality. The most beautiful of all of the children. Baby sister Gabrielle is firmly ensconced in Mom’s family as well. I hear my mother in her words and mannerisms. Gab is the closest relic we have left of our mother.

Dad, you and I had a challenging relationship. But it mirrored yours with mom in a way. We were both sort of at your mercy most of the time. Mom and I were family and you were the king that ruled over us. A fickle king that didn’t really know who he wanted to be. But always stepped up and did what he had to provide for us, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

You’re mother although a sweet woman married safe. Grandpop worked hard and knew how to make money and provide for his family. But he didn’t like being a father. He had no idea. You told me you looked upon like him like he was Superman. But he was just a man who worked hard, and liked to hang with is buddies at the bar. You wanted more, but got nothing in return. He’d tussle your hair and call you Pete. What the fuck is that? Your name is Horace.

(English and French form of HORATIUS, and the name by which the Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus is commonly known those languages. In the modern era it has been used as a given name since the Renaissance, in honour of the poet.)

That’s a very old name, and it was his name and he made you Horace jr. because you were their first-born. Like my sister Janice, you unfortunately are the children that have to go through life with a sickle, where the rest of the siblings follow giggling and laughing. But you both have always carried a burden.

You were first, adored your father but struggled. Your younger brother Jackie was smarter, cuter and could do no wrong. I loved your brother very much. He has always felt like the dad I should have had. I would have flourished better in that family. Just leave me alone and let me do my art and music.

But you always had the cross to bear. I’m sorry that happened to you, Dad. That’s no life for a kid.

I love you, Dad.

I will love you until the black wings of death scatter my days and we will both be equal.

Your parents split up and got divorced when people didn’t do that. You were in Wildwood with your mother and little brother Jack, and my Grandmother sent you on a mission.

You were fourteen years old.

Your mother sent you to Philadelphia on the train to tell your dad that you all wouldn’t be returning to Philadelphia at the end of the summer. A cowardice act but understandable at the time.

On a side note. The building she sent you to where your dad worked was at 5th and Chestnut. The Hotel Monaco stands there now and they couldn’t alter the building in any way because of its historical value. I have partied my ass of at the rooftop bar now called Stratus in the Dusk and Vapor rooms!

When I was at my lowest at age 14 I remember your mother saying, “He’s going to be great. Someday, he’ll make you so proud. ” Grammie knew. Grammie saw the inner fragility and strength in me. I loved her. Everyone had turned their backs on me in 1976 but Grammie was the only one that vocally held out hope for me. At the time I didn’t even know what was going to happen to me.

I remember years later my own mother said “I didn’t love you back then.” (Puberty)

Think of how devastating those words were to a child.

I forgive you mother. I was a fuck up and brought nothing to the table. I understand why you said that, and it’s okay.

Dad you took the train to Philly and went to the building at 5th and chestnut. That’s were your dad worked for an insurance company. He was great at his job, because he knew that all clients were equal regardless of their race. I remember when you told me that, and even though grandpop was a shit dad he did teach you some great core values.

He said to you to never say anything bad about black people, because they had the same needs and wants that we wanted and should be treated with respect. He may have liked to party at the bar with his crew, but I like this guy despite his shortcomings as a father. He taught you some important lessons, so that’s something.

My grandfather’s values still stand proud with me today through you.

Not you. Him. Shitty Dad, but honorable Grandfather values.

Dad… You’re just a collection of things you’ve been told. It’s okay. I understand.

Jack is the one with the original thoughts.

You still did good.

You go there, nervous and scared. You’re a kid. You go up to is office.

“Hey Pete.”

“Hey dad. Listen, we’re going to stay at the shore. Me and mom and Jack aren’t coming back to Philly.”

I can’t imagine the fear you must have been feeling in that cold, lonely moment.

“Ha! You’ll be back!”

And that was it.

My frightened father had to tell the man he worshiped and had failed him that he and his wife were separated.

How fucked up is that?

What does that do to a boy’s mind?

His brother Jackie is the cute one. He’s the star. Jack is as smart as a whip. My uncle Jack was the first graduating class of Margaret Mace in Wildwood NJ and he was Valedictorian. He never cracked a book. Jack was brilliant, funny and charming and built for business.

Very successful, married twice, plenty of kids, not around much, busy with work, but an amazing guy. All of his kids for the most part are wonderful and I’m happy to have them in my life to this day.

I can’t wait to see my cousins at my sister Janice’s annual holiday party this year. I love looking into the eyes of my cousin and seeing Jack’s eyes.

His light still flickering in his first daughter’s eyes.

 

The winter was rough for my grandmom, dad and Jack. I’ve heard tales of them waking up in their beds and condensation coming from their mouths it was so cold.  These are old seashore houses with no heat. My father forced to go to shitty resort town schools. (Wildwood High School) Funny how this would repeat itself with me many years later. (Sins of the father)

Why would you put me through this dad?

When he was a kid, my dad would go to get his toothbrush in the morning and it would be frozen in the cup in the bathroom.

All they had for heat was a little wood burning stove in the corner of the common space.

One day a neighbor called on my grandmom and said that someone had been dismantling and stealing his fence at night. His wooden fence was literally disappearing.

It was later learned that my uncle Jack would go out at night and take pieces of the neighbor’s fence and burn it in their stove to stay warm.

I love my Uncle Jack.

My father dropped out of high school and fell in with the wrong crowd. At one point they got their hands on a gun and were going to mug some guy to get money. He was rudderless in his teen yearsand losing his shit.

I felt this same darkness living in Wildwood in the winter of 1980, so I get it. No crime, but what a nightmare to live in a thriving resort town in the winter. There is NOTHING to do. It’s a ghost town.

It was awful. I felt cursed to be dropped there.

I lost all of my Philly friends, my band and everybody I knew. It was all about my dad escaping Philly and making sure that Janice went to Franklin and Marshall. After that his wife and kids would have to start over in a fucking ghost town.

 

My father ran away from home at age 17 and joined the army in 1946.

He said that it’s what made him into a man and brought order to his life. So basically it saved his life.

He had a great time in the army and learned much. Traveled the south and met many wonderful people. He fell in love with a beautiful girl named Naomi, but she eventually threw him over for another man.

Just young love doing what it does…

He comes back to Philly and goes to Temple University to get his GED. He meets a cute secretary who works there and starts dating her, and the rest is history. She became my mother.

 

Were they a good match? I’m going to go ahead and say no. But they made it work with what they had and knew and isn’t that what every fool does? I certainly have!

My mother always said, “Marriage is a dice roll. You just have to hope it comes up that you win most of the time.”

For the most part, I have a really normal family. That stability and core values, love and discipline worked and made some good people.

All of my sisters have turned out well.

What does that tell you?

It tells you that DAD was a good dad. If the girls turn out well he was a good dad. They are all wonderful women and I’m proud to be related to them.

It all worked out.

 

I’ll continue this tomorrow…

 

 

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What You’re Taught vs. What You Want

I have worked in financial services for 20 years and advertising for 10. I’ve been very successful due to my skill in sales. But I’m done with the rat race and corporate America. It’s all a big lie.

We all do it to buy houses and get wives and kids and the American dream and it’s all a fat lie. But everybody’s buying it and they can’t invest fast enough or stay in it as long as they can as debtors because that’s what they’ve been sold and taught, and it’s all a lie.

You’re father told you to never to be a liar but that’s what you’re all living.

Imagine how you’re spending your life. In your apartment, Watching football with your bro’s or reading your comic books or whatever, and a lovely lady would come over maybe once a week and fuck you and love you. You are her one and only, and then when you’re done with dinner and sex and whatever else, she goes away until you summon her again for the same loving experience?

Perfect right?

You can’t. That’s for young men. You must marry, and get a house. mortgage and have kids. That’s what you’ve been sold so hard that you have lost yourself. You don’t know what you want anymore because your afraid your dream will fade. Your stupid legacy. Your shitty bloodline will end because of some shit your parents told you.

Lies.

All men want a lovely girl to make love to and have a cool life with,  but think about it…it’s bullshit.

The marriage is a fortune. We hate that we have to spend two months salary on a ring. What huge diamond conglomerate set that number? Everything in this country is about making money.

It’s sad.

Hey, spend a thousand dollars on a dress that you’re only going to wear once! It’s a giant party that costs a fortune. All the planning and everything. It’s awful. I’ve done it and will never do it again. She twirls around in a white dress for one night in front of her family and friends, and the guy is not allowed to ever have sex with anyone else again.

I think it would be better if you just get married at the court-house, if you absolutely feel that you need to be legally bound to another person. It would be nice if everybody would just send money and that would be it.

Most people just settle anyway. They’ve run out of options or are simply tired of looking. Most women start panicking around 27 years of age and start getting serious about finding some shlub to help them pay down their revolving debt they cranked up in their 20’s buying handbags, booze, shoes, and vacations.  They get a roof over their head and then start cranking out babies.

That’s it. Replicated a million times all over the world.

Thousands of dollars for the mortgage, the cars, and the kids!

Kids are an absolute fortune. Let’s have children so we will both have to work very hard for a very long time. What’s the point? There’s too many people in the world already. Then you have to get a bigger house in the suburbs where they have better schools.

They will push and struggle to make a bunch of money for a lifestyle that is absolute bullshit. It’s boring! What guy would want to work that hard and that long? Deal with a wife and kids everyday? It’s really not something I think most men realize they are getting into.

It’s almost never the guy’s idea to get married. The first set up is usually the best. You have your place, she has hers, sometimes you’re together and sometimes you’re alone. Perfect set up. That’s the set up I currently enjoy.

But what happens? Biological clock starts ticking.

“What are we doing? Where is this going?”

When you start to hear that shit, either run, or just surrender fellas.

Game over.

But it’s not all women’s fault. Some guys are just too insecure to be alone. They want that one chick that they can have sex with because they’re either not good at hunting, or have simply lost the will, or don’t have the fatal charm to go out and date.

I bet if you did a survey, and you could get the men to be honest, most would agree they would like to sit on the porch or go to a game, drink beer with their bro’s and get the occasional sex that’s consistent, and then just be left alone.

How cool would it be if Cinderella turned into a pizza and a six pack at midnight after she fucked your brains out for two hours and got off the property?

It’s sad. I hate seeing a bunch of broken down losers working their fucking asses off and getting pulled into jobs that mean nothing so they can support their lifestyles they built and they never really wanted any of that.

It’s all a lie.

We all want a simple uncluttered life, and we all end up miserable debtors.

Most people don’t have the courage to be alone.

To be in a room by yourself and take a deep breath and say:

Maybe marriage isn’t for me.

Somebody has to say this stuff, so it might as well be me.

Have a great week!

 

 

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

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5 Signs A Broken Relationship Is Still Worth Saving

5 Signs A Broken Relationship Is Still Worth Saving

How could you know if your broken relationship with your partner is worth saving? Is there a sure sign of things being beyond repair? We will look at some of the symptoms of broken relationships that can be revived, and some advice on how to save your relationship.

You and your partner have had your ups and downs, but lately it seems like you’re in a deep one. Not every crisis has to mean the end of a partnership though. All of the time that you’ve put into this pairing is an investment that you want to see a return on. Don’t walk out yet if your broken relationship is still worth saving.

1. YOU STILL TRUST YOUR PARTNER

There cannot be intimacy without trust and there cannot be a good trusting connection without open communication. Open communication is not about nagging or criticism; it is about expressing your feelings so you can both get what you need, and hopefully, what you want from the relationship. If sex has declined, it’s not the end of your relationship. You can still have intimacy without intercourse through touching, and that might build enough trust to lead to being able to have more sex.

2. YOU’VE SURVIVED CHALLENGES WITH RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER

Coming through the fire has made you stronger, not weaker, and your love for each other can still be enough to save the relationship. Read below about the power of touch and positive communication to heal your relationship. You’ve been through some hardships, but you’ve made it through the rough parts by each others’ side.

How your partner handles stress is a great determination of their character and it reveals a lot about them to you. If you survived a challenge and can look at your partner with respect for their courage, composure, and ability to find humor, you are a lucky person because your broken relationship is still worth saving.

3. YOU STILL BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF LOVE TO HEAL

Love is one of the most powerful forces on the planet, and we don’t use it as much as we should. Give hugs, kisses, gentle shoulder rubs, and caresses to your partner as often as you think about wanting to do it. Physical contact helps stimulate the release of oxytocin and that makes couples bond more strongly.

Oxytocin is called ‘The Cuddle Hormone’ for a reason. It helps mother and child bonding, as well as romantic couple bonding. Oxytocin may also help with healing, literal wounds in the body, and with emotional ones also, so hug it out. Researchers looked at couples and their levels of oxytocin while they talked. They found that positive communication patterns where couples could be upbeat with each other had the highest blood levels of oxytocin. The study also found that higher oxytocin levels had the power to heal. You can literally heal your broken heart with oxytocin.

4. YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ALSO PLAYED A ROLE IN WHATEVER BROKE THE RELATIONSHIP

Maybe you did nothing wrong, but you didn’t believe yourself worthy of love, so you couldn’t truly receive the love that your partner was giving you. Relationshiprules.com has a great way of putting this; ‘open yourself to embrace the fact that the other person is truly and actually madly in love with you and is ready to cross any physical or emotional barrier for you. This moment of clarity is the reality of every strong relationship.’

How can you fix whatever is broken if you won’t acknowledge that it needs to be fixed? There are two people in every relationship and both contribute to the health and security of the partnership. Neither one of you is blameless but neither one of you is completely to blame either. If you say nothing else, say these four sentences to your partner often; ‘I’m sorry.’ ‘Please forgive me.’ ‘Thank you.’ ‘I love you.’

5. IMAGINE YOURSELF SEPARATED

Are you happy or sad thinking about breaking up with your partner? If you are happy, you will be smiling as you think about it. If you’re not smiling, it’s a sign that your broken relationship is still worth saving. A breakup can lead to a major depressive disorder or depression, which is a terrible consequence for your mental and physical health.

Researchers looked at when depression was most likely to develop for teenagers. They found that ‘The severing of a romantic relationship in the past year may set the stage, or at least one stage, for developing MDD (major depressive disorder).’ Depression can kill and it is nothing to brush off. Extreme sadness is common for people going through romantic relationship difficulties. If you feel depressed, seek help sooner rather than later.

 

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Wildwood Daze – Spring of 1980 – The Union Jacks – Part 1

“Thanks to my dad, (the classical music enthusiast,) ‘Tommy” was properly released to the world.”

I went to my dad and ran by my band name dilemma. I don’t know why but the more I thought about it the more it made sense.

They never got me guitar lessons and gave piano lessons to non-musical sister Janice for two years. I discovered music and rock on my own. Forced my way into bands and made my own way. Bought my own killer guitar with my own earned money. They in turn bought me the finest amplifier on the island to speak my voice. (Actually to roar the voice of the unheard louder than anyone on the island with that Marshall amp.)

All is forgiven and awesome in the same breath.

My dad’s brother Jack had always worked in the music industry all his adult life. Columbia Records. The real deal.

My father loved classical music and opera. Jack knew nothing of this and would give my dad dozens of great records every year. My dad could understand them and tell Jack what was good and what was sub par.

My uncle Jack worked with the likes of Barbra Streisand and Andy Williams. He was a major producer, but I never thought of him as a person that could help me make it, just a bit of guidance.

Once My uncle Jack was working with a rock band that was very popular in the sixties and seventies. They wanted to do a concept album. A rock opera, which was unheard of then. Even the Beatles hadn’t of thought of that. (Well, Sgt. Pepper)

They submitted their work to then producer Jack for some input and he had no clue about opera. He only understood popular music, the business, production and vocalists.

He turned to his brother, my father with the concept of a ‘rock opera’ by a popular rock band.

“Well if their serious about making a rock opera then they need a libretto. Every opera has a libretto.” My father said to his brother.

li·bret·to
ləˈbredō/
noun
 
  1. the text of an opera or other long vocal work.

 

My uncle Jack went back to Pete Townsend of The Who and told him they needed to make a libretto that must be included with their finished work.

Thanks to my dad, (the classical music enthusiast,) ‘Tommy” was properly released to the world.

One of the greatest creative achievements by The Who.

That is some real shit right there.

So I go to him and tell him what we’re doing. I need to come up with a cool name for our band.

“It sounds like you guys play plenty of British music. Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Stones. What if you call the band, Union Jack?”

My dad was always a deadly marketing guy and could have killed it in the ad business.

“What’s that?”

“The British flag is called the Union Jack.”

“I like that. I’m going to take that back to the boys.”

_________________________________________________________

Two nights later everybody is making their pitch for what the new band should be called and I explain why we should be called Union Jack.

Everybody loves it except Brian.

Why?

Brian is in love with John Waite and the a band called the Babys. I get it. I love that band too. They are terrific and horribly underrated. They just ironically came out with an album called “Union Jacks.”

He wants the band be called, “The Union Jacks.”

Jim agrees with me that ‘Union Jack’ is enough but we yield to Brian’s might.

We are now The Union Jacks.

But… thanks dad. You fucking rock.

As the band Nazereth would say: “Close enough for rock and roll.”

I had acquired a drab green army jacket and had the Union Jacks put on the back of it. Jim followed suite and had the name of the band put on the back of his denim jacket.

It was cool to be part of a cool new band and felt the name gave us an identity as a musical entity.

One night Jim and I were walking down the boardwalk together in Wildwood, and this group of teenage girls were like, “Hey Union Jacks!”

We just smiled and waved and enjoyed the fame.

This little blonde shouted, “You’re the guy with the black guitar!”

I think I had a Lief Garret moment right then. (google it youngsters)

 

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

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Duncan – Touchdown – Part 1

“Whenever his plane lands he always texts me the signal: “Touchdown.” I know he’s landed in Philly and the fun is about to begin. But in that moment I didn’t realize how his phrase would ring true this fateful weekend.”

Duncan had planned on coming into town to visit me. It had been a while since we’d hung out. But this was a very special weekend. He was turning 50 and the Philadelphia Eagles were playing in the Super Bowl.

Whenever his plane lands he always texts me the signal: “Touchdown.” I know he’s landed in Philly and the fun is about to begin. But in that moment I didn’t realize how his phrase would ring true this fateful weekend.

My schedule has changed since he last was up here in Philly. I work every day and only get every other Saturday off. I don’t mind because I love to work and stay busy. We’ve got two businesses to run and this blog’s not going to write itself.

While I was walking into work today, I realized that even though we don’t see each other very often, Duncan is my very best friend. We’ve known each other for 20 years.

He later rolls into the salon on Friday afternoon. It’s great to see him. He walks up to me and practically jumps into my arms.

I give him the tour of the gym and salon. It’s been over a year since he’s seen it. The last time he was here the space was an empty husk of a fallen restaurant. Now it’s a busy tanning salon with a personal training fitness center up front. We’ve come a long way since then. He’s impressed.

We takes a seat in the waiting area and we chit-chat. This time together gives us a chance to catch up on what’s happening in each other’s lives. It’s been slow at the salon so we can talk. Duncan also likes all of the young attractive women that come in to tan. It’s like an endless pageant of beauty.

I get a couple of cheese steaks and sodas delivered and we happily munch them, while bringing each other up to date. We discuss current events, business, work, the women in our lives, and most of all Super Bowl LII.

When I finish we decide to go to Duncan’s favorite bar at the Ritz Carlton. He stayed there last year and we loved it. I got him a more modern and less expensive room at the Hotel Palomar at 17th and Sansom. But there’s no bar that looks like what’s at the Ritz Carlton. It’s a vast space with high ceilings surrounded by pillars. It’s like you’re having a drink at a beautiful white marble bar in ancient Rome. (But with all the modern amenities) If you ever get to Philly, check it out.

We park it at the bar and Duncan goes for his favorite: Rum, Bailey’s and Cream. It’s like a White Russian but more like a milkshake for adults. I like my drinks with a touch of evil so I go for the Manhattan, Bulliet Rye, Sweet Vermouth and brandied cherries. A lethal and elegant classic cocktail.

We get into it. We’ve been friends for 20 years. We know basically everything about each other. But there’s always new material. Stuff you know, but we go for the deeper dive. We both have issues with our parents. Who doesn’t our age? Especially boys.

We agree that the only way we could have moved forward in our lives was to forgive them and embrace all of the great things they did. Not dwell on the horrific things they did to us growing up.

We used to just listen to heavy metal and go to concerts and eat and party in the old days.

We relive those days of simple joy. Building our time together around concerts, meals, drinks, drugs and fun. But now we’re both men in middle age that have held our friendship through truth and our common interests. But mostly growing up in the same era and loving all of the same things.

The pain we suffered growing up has always been there, but tonight in middle age we let loose and agree to forgive. My gentle friend’s childhood was way worse than mine. Our parents were so good to us and they did the best they could, but why the violence against us?

Nothing good came from any of that. It was all just an emotional and physical release for them to escape from their own pain and frustration. None of our sisters knew this, but the sons did. The humiliation. The beatings. It was awful.

How could you do that to a child. By today’s standards, it is a 911 call.

I know my best friend’s life was worse than mine. There is always someone who’s had it worse than you.

I Love Duncan and treasure him as my distant best friend. We are always connected even though there are miles between us.

Our cylinders run an engine of friendship that transcends time and space. Business, values, marriage, relationships, philosophy, politics. comedy, film, Star Wars, comics, music. Everything. I just adore him.

20 years. You can’t build that without your ups and downs but there’s love there. It’s something we both have wanted our entire lives. I met my very best friend 20 years ago through the banking industry.

You never know when you’re going to meet a best friend. Sometimes you don’t even know who they are when you have them. But you open your eyes one day in this fleeting life and there they are 20 years later and you are just as you were when you first started.

You love all of the same stuff. There’s a little bit of new stuff, but the vein runs through it and it is pure. That’s your guy. He gets you. He knows your secrets and all of your fuck ups and weaknesses and he hangs in there anyway.

You can tell him anything and he won’t ever judge you. That’s a friend. He has all of his shit, and you have yours. You have both taught each other to forgive those that have hurt you. They only were doing the best they could with what they had.

They’re lives were so much harder than ours. Their parents came from a harder place and were even more ignorant than we are. But we’re the next generation and we love them. They did so many great things and that outweighs most of the awful mistakes that they made with us.

 

I’m plowing Manhattan’s and Duncan is destroying his White Russians like he’s John Bonham. Then for the first time in our 20 year relationship we finally dig into the darkness.

The agonizing pain of our childhoods and how ignorant our parents were. I describe what happened to me and with Duncan I feel safe in telling him what my childhood was like.

Then he describes incidents from his childhood and I am horrified and tears come to my eyes because I can’t imagine that happening to my friend.

It’s way worse than any of my punishments and almost seem like a call to child services would have been in order back then.

But as awful as it all is as we laugh and throw our cocktails back we discuss forgiveness and understanding. We both realize where our parents were in their lives back then. Where they came from and how far they came with all of us kids.

It was a different time back then and they didn’t know any better. They really did a lot of great things. Fantastic things for us kids, but there were moments where they made missteps that marked us forever.

They could never have foreseen the long-term effect on how what they gave us would propel us into greatness, but in that same moment, provide a weight, a nearly disabling weight that could destroy us in the same moment.

Some of their children would prevail and soar high and clean. Others would crawl from the wreckage of their upbringing broken and fragile, but would still find their way.

Maybe these birds cast from the nest would find their way and eventually fly back to the nest and rescue their own parents from their on demise.

Simply as an act of kindness.

Because they had become good people.

They were able to take the best of what they learned from their parents, and forgive the worst. Learn from it and be the best people they could be.

That’s my Duncan.

It’s late and we’re elated but wiped out. The bill comes and it’s $200. My God.

Duncan pays it.

I feel a twinge of regret but he insists. The weekend is only getting started and I’m stupid happy to see him.

I love Duncan. Our history is so rich, we could write a phicklphilly book just about our stories. (I probably will)

Our friendship has aged beautifully. Middle age hasn’t been kind to any of us, but we’re still tight as super glue. Our friendship has transcended time and space. We still love and hate all of the same stuff together. Now we’re in our fifties and I would love nothing more than to sit beside my dear friend watching whatever new Star Wars incarnation Disney can create and be happy.

We just want to share a moment, a drink, and a laugh.

We’ll do more than that this weekend, but for now… I’m just happy to have him in my life after all of this time.

 

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The Silent Treatment: Understanding Wordless Emotional Abuse

hen my mother got angry or was displeased, she would act as though I wasn’t there. It was like I’d become invisible like a ghost or a pane of glass. When I was small—say six or seven—I would melt under the heat of her glare, crying and begging for her to say something but she wouldn’t. Of course, I tiptoed around her all during my childhood, afraid. You know, it was like being locked in an attic as a punishment but it was more confusing and subtle. I didn’t understand it as abusive until I was in my forties.

The Silent Treatment: Understanding Wordless Emotional Abuse

This woman is not alone; children who grow up around verbal and emotional abuse usually normalize it, believing wrongly that what goes on at their house goes on everywhere. Not altogether surprisingly, there’s a lot of cultural confusion about what exactly constitutes abusive behavior. While most people are quick to condemn physical abuse—the kind that leaves visible bruises or breaks bones—many don’t understand where the inability to manage emotions like losing your temper stops and abusive behavior begins. Is it intention that separates one from the other—the effort to control or manipulate another person—or is the victimizing effect that pushes it over the line? The short answer is both.

Contrary to the public muddle, research is very clear on what emotional and verbal abuse does to the child’s developing brain, literally changing its structure. These children grow up to be adults who mistrust their perceptions and have difficulty managing their emotions; they develop an insecure style of attachment which can make them detach from their feelings (avoidance style) or make them highly vulnerable and rejection sensitive (anxious style). Because they tend to normalize verbal abuse, they may end up in adult relationships with those who are abusive.

When most of us think about verbal abuse, we imagine screaming and yelling but the truth is that some of the most pernicious abuse is wordless and quiet; just re-read the story which begins this post and note that it’s the mother’s silence that is the weapon of choice.

Wordless abuse: What it is and how it damages

Here’s what Leah,38, wrote me about her first marriage:

I would become a pathetic creature, begging him to tell me he still loved me after a fight and he wouldn’t answer. I would beg some more, crying, and he would sit there on the couch, his face like stone. Then I would apologize even though he’d started the fight and I’d done nothing wrong. That’s how scared of his leaving I was. I didn’t recognize his behavior as abusive and controlling until I went into therapy at 35. I lived with this for 12 years and never once thought that this was not okay.

Leah’s story isn’t unusual in that she normalized her husband’s behavior for years. This kind of quiet abuse is relatively easy to rationalize or deny: “He didn’t feel like talking,” “She was actually trying to regroup,” “It’s not like he deliberately tried to hurt me” or “Maybe I am too sensitive just like she says.” As I explain in my book Daughter Detox: Recovering From an Unloving Mother and Reclaiming Your Life, children internalize not just the messages conveyed by the articulated kind of verbal abuse but also form their expectations and understanding of how people behave in relationships from the quiet kind.

Among the kinds of quiet abuse are stonewalling, ignoring, displaying contempt, and withholding. They all share the goal of marginalizing the person, making the person feel terrible about him or herself, and facilitating control.

Stonewalling or Demand/Withdraw

Widely recognized as one of the most toxic patterns of relationship, this behavior has been studied often enough that it is has its own acronym: DM/W. Stonewalling effectively ends the possibility of dialogue, and is meant disempower the person who initiated the conversation. When a parent does this to a child, he or she effectively communicates that the child’s thoughts and feelings are absolutely of no value or concern; since the child needs a parent’s love and support, he or she will absorb that lesson as a supposed truth about the self. When an adult intimate partner does it, it’s a power play pure and simple, but effectively sends the following message: What you want, what you think, what you feel don’t matter in this relationship.

The silent treatment or ignoring

Pretending that you neither see nor hear someone is especially poignant for children, especially if served up as a punishment. A young child may feel as though she’s been banished or abandoned; an older one may feel the pain of rejection but may also experience deep anger, as Ella explained:

My father would systematically stop talking to me whenever I disappointed him which was often. The infraction could be something like not getting a good grade on a test, missing a goal in field hockey, or just about anything. He was always saying things like ‘You need toughening up. You’re too sensitive and only the tough survive in this world.’ My mother went along with it too. By the time I was a teenager, I was angry with them but, of course, I also thought I was somehow to blame for disappointing him. I was an only child and had nothing to compare it to. Long story short, I fell apart when I went to college and luckily, a great therapist saved me.

Intimate partners also use the silent treatment to marginalize and demean, as well as to make his or her partner fearful or off-balance. It’s a way of making someone feel vulnerable, banishing them to an emotional Siberia, and is intended to make them more malleable and less resistant to control.

Contempt and derision

Laughing at someone, deriding him or her with facial gestures of disgust or eye-rolling, can also be tools of abuse, meant to marginalize and demean, and don’t require words. These gestures, alas, can easily be deflected or denied by the abuser who’s likely to say that you’re too sensitive or that you can’t take a joke or that you’re reading in.

Make no mistake: this is abusive behavior. You don’t need words to tell someone they’re stupid or worthless.

Withholding

This is perhaps the most subtle form of abuse, especially when it involves a child: Deliberately withholding the words of support, love, and caring that a child needs in order to thrive. Of course, a child doesn’t know what he or she is missing, but recognizes the loneliness that fills the empty space in his or her heart. But it’s only slightly easier to see when you’re an adult in an intimate relationship because having your emotional needs denied only serves to make you even more needy and, sometimes, more dependent on that partner. It’s counterintuitive, but true. Withholding is the ultimate tool of people who crave power and control.

Abuse is abuse. If someone is using words or silence to make you feel powerless and worthless, that person is behaving abusively. Keep it simple.

Was this helpful? I’d love to hear your feedback on this piece!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

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Wildwood Daze – Winter of 1979 – Instant Band (with No Name!)

That’s me at age 17 playing my new Ibanez Iceman guitar.

 

I have abandoned my initial effort to start a band with Jim and Chris. I met this clown Ron in art class. He knows of a working band that need a rhythm guitarist. I want that gig.

I meet with them. The bass player Mark’s parent’s own an Italian restaurant up on New York avenue. It’s a good spot in the summer but closed in the

winter like every thing else in this god forsaken town that I now hate.

Mark Piro playing a blonde Fender Precision Bass

I enter the restaurant with my new guitar and meet the guys. They seem cool, and I’m thinking here I go again. Me inserting myself into an already established group. They tell me they just want to fatten their sound.

The furniture and tables in the dining room have been cleared out and there’s a great space for us to jam. There isn’t anything around us neighbor-wise to disturb so we can rock out. We chat and I get to know the guys. Jesse is the lead guitarist. He seems like a sweet, nice kid. Tall with brown hair. Goes to Wildwood Catholic. Mark, the bass player, whose folks own the restaurant and he lives in Wildwood Crest. So he’s from money and attends Wildwood High like me. He’s a year younger so he’s a junior. 11th grade. Brian, the drummer is clearly the leader of this band. He is a little tough Scottish dude. Apparently his mom is a sweet woman who works at the library here in town and my dad knows her. So that’s an in.

They play a few songs for me to show who they are.

I am amazed.

This band is light years ahead of anything I did with Renegade back in Philly. The songs are tight. The playing is spot on and the solos are exact.

I can’t believe I’m standing in the same room with these guys.

Mark                                                                                                       Me                     Brian 

But their stuck. They need something else. I tell them I write songs and they like that. I dig that they are receptive to that because that’s what I want to do.

Mark                                                                             Me with a bad haircut

I jam a little with them and it sounds good. I throw out a few licks from some Zep songs I know that they aren’t currently performing, It makes an impression with them. I knew it would. I have been practicing songs non stop ever since I picked up the Silvertone back in Philly. I’m so hungry. I think Brian takes a shine to me because I’m sweet and nice. I am not a person that threatens his authority. I could sense that was a thing with him. Little man syndrome is rampant in all walks of life. I get it and I’m a good diplomat. He’s a little than the other boys. He’s 21.

Brian Smith

I see a nasty gouge/scratch on Jesse’s Guild guitar.

“Wow sorry man. How’d that happen?”

Brian speaks: “I was trying to talk to someone and Jesse wouldn’t turn his amp down.”

I turn away from Jesse to Brian.

“What happened?”

He wouldn’t turn down his fucking guitar, so I threw a drumstick at him.”

“Okay….”

“He got off easy. I was aiming for his face.”

Jesse said nothing.

 

Brian gives me a set list. It’s great. Cool songs, and this band already rocks without me.

“Learn these songs.”

“Okay.”

I remember going home and locking myself in my room with my records and nearly breaking my fingers to learn all of the songs, chord changes, and time signatures. It was the hardest homework I had ever been assigned in my life.

I came back in a couple of days and we started jamming. It was glorious. Better than anything I could have ever imagined. Here I was exiled to this shitty summer resort/ prison and I was now playing with a band that was awesome!

This group was so many steps ahead of Renegade. We were playing songs from the past that were amazing but we were also working on stuff that was on the radio NOW! I loved that. This band was relevant. I was honored to be here.

Only about nine months out from actually picking up a guitar for the first time and here I was jamming with a bunch of pros! I knew I was born to create and make music and now I was finally able to go forward and rock out! I was scared and ecstatic for the first time. I was stressed because I had to learn so many songs to catch up but I wanted it so bad with these guys I worked my ass off to catch up, This baptism by fire made me a better musician almost immediately.

     Mark                                                                                                                       Me

A leap in evolution. That’s how it happens. You have to adapt to survive. I got better on my new axe and I could feel the surge of great energy happening.

Here we go. Now I’ve got something to live for here in the winter of ’79. Thanks guys!

It was tough but so fun. I would go to school all day, and then come home, do my homework, eat dinner and then head out to practice. It was great. I had purpose again in my life. My mom was happy I wasn’t on drugs, drinking or getting into trouble. I was doing well in school and had a hobby. (My dream!) I don’t remember where my father was during this time. He seems invisible to me.

But my father knew what was going on and was probably happy that I had come out of my cage of depression that he couldn’t understand.

So for Christmas that year he got me this:

 

I nearly came in my pants.

Marshall Amplification is an English company that designs and manufactures music amplifiersspeaker cabinets, brands personal headphones and earphones, and, having acquired Natal Drums, drums and bongos. It was founded by drum shop owner and drummer Jim Marshall, and is now based in BletchleyMilton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

Marshall’s guitar amplifiers are among the most recognised in the world. They are known for their Marshall “crunch”. This signature sound was conceived by Marshall after guitarists, such as Pete Townshend, visiting Marshall’s drum shop complained that the guitar amplifiers then on the market didn’t have the right sound or enough volume. 

After gaining a lot of publicity, Marshall guitar amplifiers and loudspeaker cabinets were sought by guitarists for this new sound and increased volume.[3][4] Many of the current and reissue Marshall guitar amplifiers continue to use vacuum tubes, as is common in this market sector. Marshall also manufactures less expensive solid-state, hybrid (valve and solid state) and modelling amplifiers.

Kids had Fenders, an Ampegs and Peavey’s. NOBODY had a MARSHALL amp. Marshall is the premier rock star amplifier in the world. My dad got me one. No matter what I’ve ever said about my father in this blog means anything against this moment.

“I’ve been trying to get you worked about something for years, son.”

“Oh my god, dad. I can’t believe it. Thank you. (crying) This is the greatest amp in the world. This what all of the rock stars use. Thank you!”

It was a 100 watt Marshall combo with twin 12 inch Celstion speakers. It was tube driven. No transistors. I know most of you don’t know what that means, but let me put it in terms we can all understand: This Fucking Amp ROARED. Super scary power. Weight. Clarity. And most of all organic mad distortion. This coupled with my pedal would be a force to be reckoned with on this island. Power chords would be played, walls would crumble.

A Marshall is that powerful.

It changed my life.

I’ve now got a rocking band and the best and coolest equipment in the industry. Stardom can’t be far off!

Thank you dad! I love you!

We played this song spot on! Jesse nailed the solo note for note! Wonderful!

Jesse Dean playing a brown Gibson SG

 

We murdered this song too! Again I was amazed listening to Jesse killing the solo. I loved being in this band with no name! But feeling alive again!

 

 

At least I was making music again and further along musically than I’d ever been. I need to survive this ordeal.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish everyday at 8am  & 12pm EST.

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