Floating Hope

Philadelphia, PA – Summer 2021

One of my followers reached out to me on my blog. She stated that she was coming up to Philly from Florida for a baby shower. I’m always happy to hear from my readers and was glad to hear the news. She asked if while she was up here if we could meet. Of course, I agreed.

It was on a Saturday, and happily I was free from any obligations. I arranged a reservation at Devil’s Alley for food and drinks. I’ve never met this person so I asked if there were any dietary issues, and she said no. I figured the place wouldn’t be busy. Unlike spots like Parc in Rittenhouse which are nice, but expensive and usually packed.

Saturday arrived and I headed up to Devil’s Alley around 11:45. I got there and informed the hostess of what was going on. She liked the story and told me that she’d get me a table upstairs. While I was chatting with her, my friend appeared! She had sent me a photo before she traveled here so I knew what she looked like.

We headed upstairs and took our seats. We ordered cocktails and started chatting. It was immediately a lively conversation. We had some things in common. Both divorced with grown kids. We talked about some of our past relationships and dating in general.

It was great to sit and chat with a fellow writer who is from the same generation as I am. It seems that she was married for many years and then after her divorced, she jumped into a relationship that lasted four years. She said that at one point she had outgrown the relationship and moved on.

She’s been dating and seems to be very active in the dating arena. She still uses Bumble and maybe one other app. I remember when I first started writing this blog I was on all the apps! Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Coffee Meets Bagel and others. (I may have even tried Hinge near the end) I’m no longer on any of them and really don’t see the need at this point. If I meet anybody now it’ll just happen organically in my everyday life.

But my friend is on the dating apps and she’s doing well. I was impressed with her confidence and how successful she’s been in her career and her dating life. It’s good to see a woman who’s a bit younger than me that’s out there having fun and meeting new people and potential mates.

We had Devil’s famous dry rub wings and I think she enjoyed them. It was just a light snack and drinks on this visit. (To be honest, they weren’t as impressive as they usually are)

I didn’t know how much time she had to spend with me, but I had planned if she could have hung out longer, I probably would have taken her to the bar at the top of the Comcast 2 center at the Four Seasons. It’s an incredible view of the city and thought she might like that.

But her time was limited and she had other commitments for the afternoon. I was happy that she took the time to hang out with me. It was a real pleasure to meet one of my subscribers in person for the very first time. So to me, it was a landmark event even if it was just a few hours.

After our meeting, we walked down Pine street near my house. I told her I needed to run inside for a moment. When I reappeared a few minutes later I presented her with a copy of my latest book, Below the Wheel. (I hope she likes it, but it’s okay if she doesn’t!)

I walked her back to her hotel over by City Hall and said goodbye. It was a lovely afternoon with a new friend. We agreed that if she comes up again we’ll hang out again.

I’m looking forward to that!

We did a selfie, and both agreed to write about the encounter in our perspective blogs. I’ll be interested to read what her take on the day was.

You can find her blog here: https://findingmynextchapter.wordpress.com/

We both decided to write about our experience, and both publish our stories on the same day! Thank, Birdie!

Here’s hers: findingmynextchapter.wordpress.com/2022/05/17/meeting-another-blogger

 

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

Tales of Rock: Who’s Libretto?

Philadelphia, PA – 1968

My uncle Jack used to work for Columbia Records back in the 60s. He was a well-known producer and had lots of connections in the music industry. When I lived in Los Angeles in the early 80s he was out there on business and called me to meet up with him for lunch.

I was happy to meet up with him. It would be nice to not only see a member of my family because it was my first time far away from home. But also because he was my favorite uncle. He was a brilliant guy with a lightning-fast wit. He was an easy-going dude that everybody liked.

I drove out to Century City in my 1969 VW minibus to meet him for lunch. We were joined by the former president of Columbia Records who was a buddy of my uncle’s. I remember it was cool to hang out with these guys and listen to their stories of the glory days of popular music in the 60s.

During his time in the business, my uncle met many musicians and celebrities like Andy Williams, and Barbra Streisand.

One story that stand out in my mind is when his buddy told a story about how the Jefferson Airplane had recorded a demo for Columbia and they didn’t like it and turned it down flat for a record deal. He said one of the guys in the band urinated into the planter in the corner of his office upon hearing the news. He said they later signed with RCA Victor and got an unheard of $25k advance to get on board with them. (which was a fortune in 1965)  “They were a bunch of crazy people.” he said about the band.

Anyway, I always loved my uncle and still miss his wry wit to this day. But back to the story at hand.

Because my uncle was in the industry he would be given lots of vinyl demo albums to check out and review. Anything that was popular or mainstream he could relate to, but when he was given anything relating to classical music or opera, he would give them to his brother.

Which was my father. My dad loved classical music and opera and it was probably his favorite kind of music. Since my uncle was clueless to that kind of music he’d pass them to my dad to give him the lowdown on each orchestra and album.

This went on for many years and my dad got loads of free music to add to his collection. As a kid, I always wondered why on many of his record albums there was always a red stamp on the back. It read: “Not for Sale. This album is for demonstration purposes only.” Those were the ones my uncle gave him. If for some reason there was some unknown rock band in one of the many albums he gave him, my dad would pass it to me. Even as far forward as the late 70s. I remember my dad handing me the soundtrack to the animated film, Heavy Metal based on the comic magazine. It’s where I first heard the song, Mob Rules by Black Sabbath. There was even a record that consisted of a collection of songs by different artists, and one of them was a really old recording from the German metal band Scorpions (Whom I loved) it was a song called “Am I Going Mad?” from the album Lonesome Crow, which I didn’t even know existed back then.

Anyway, back in 1968, my uncle was chatting with my dad about music, and an interesting question came up. He said he had a buddy over at Decca Records that was working with a somewhat popular band from the UK. The group had been generating some buzz as an up-and-coming mod/rock band. They were trying to find their voice and identity and had released a few small hits.

Back in the 50s and early 60s, bands and singers only released singles. Short songs that were never longer than 3 minutes long. If that artist had generated enough popular songs in a period of time, the label l would put the songs out as a collection on an LP.

But the Beatles changed all that when they started to release albums of all-new material. No longer would albums be collections of hits but bonafide creative works of music.

But the main guy in the band over at Decca was a brilliant songwriter and wanted to take his band’s music to the next level. He came up with a unique concept. He ran the idea and played a few songs for his producer. It was a groundbreaking idea for an album that hadn’t ever been done before.

The producer over at Decca ran the idea by my uncle to get his thoughts on the subject. He of course spoke to his brother, (my dad) about it. My father listened intently to the idea and gave him this response:

“Do they have a libretto?”

“A what?”

A libretto. Every opera has a libretto. It’s the text and the substantive ideas that inspire the composition, including the dramatic structure, characters and scenario of the opera.

“Okay…”

“Well, tell your friend that if this band is going to do some kind of opera, they’ll need a libretto so when people buy the record they can read along and know what’s going on with the story of the songs even if it’s in a different language.”

So my uncle goes back and tells all of this to his buddy over at Decca, and he tells the guy in the band who’s writing the album. He loves the idea and they decide to include a libretto with the new album. My uncle tells my dad and he’s happy he was able to help out based on his expertise with classical music and opera.

“By the way, Jack, what’s the opera about?”

“It’s about a deaf, mute, and blind boy who is abused as a child and becomes an incredible player at the game of pinball.”

“Okay, well that seems a little weird, but I hope they have success with that. Glad I could help.”

My dad obviously got a free demo copy of the album before it came out and turned me on to this incredible band and their music.

So my father had something to do with the creation of Tommy by The Who.

 

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

A Trip to the Shore – Part 3

Wildwood, New Jersey – 2021

Saturday

After witnessing the sunrise, which was glorious and elegant in its simplicity, I went to Russo’s market for breakfast. The business has been there since 1972. Having a little market/deli/sundries shop a block from our shore house was great. It’s one of the few things left in this town that still looks and feels like it did 50 years ago.

I walked to the back to the deli section and ordered my usual, (bacon egg and cheese on a bagel) from one of the girls working there and waited for my order.  I decided to wander around the store to see if it still held the seashore magic it once did. I soon realized that it did.

All kinds of goodies.

A whole aisle for flip-flops.

Monogrammed hats and shirts!

A palm tree full of cool sunglasses.

Little toys and stuff for kids!

Postcards! Classic!

Paperback books and magazines to read at the beach? I’m in heaven!

Balls!

More fun beach toys!

I don’t know if the owners are still present much anymore, but whatever deal they made with whoever runs it now must have included that the store had to look a certain way and carry certain products. My nostalgia meter is going off the charts standing in this store right now!

For the first time since I’ve arrived here, I felt like I was back in the old Wildwood. I’m so glad this store still exists. Sadly, at this point, it’s nearly one of a kind. Just beautiful. This store has always been a class act and a treasure to this island.

I walk back to the deli to wait for my sandwich. I was looking at some of the stuff hanging on the walls back there. One of the photos caught my eye.

This giant memory collage of photos of many of the past employees. But two of the photos caught my eye…

That’s my older sister with her friend Susan from back in the 1970s! She worked there for years and was one of their most beloved employees.

Just below their photo is an old picture of Michelle and Rich Russo, the original owners!

Good times!

I got my sandwich and headed outside. Next to the building, they have a little area where you can sit and eat at a few tables in the shade. I enjoyed my breakfast and although I was surprised at how quiet it was, I contemplated my next move.

I decided to walk up the boardwalk and see what was going on up there. It was still early, so it wasn’t blazing hot out yet. Even if we’re dying from the heat up in Philly, it’s always cooler at the seashore.

I headed up there and there were lots of people around. Many of them were on bikes. I assumed you could ride your bike on the boardwalk until noon. I stuck to the right near the shops and began my journey south on the boardwalk.

It’s still got the original 5 piers full of amusement rides, but they’re all now owned by the Morey family. They used to only own one pier back in the 70s but always invested their earnings back into the pier and later acquired Marine pier which became Mariner’s Landing and then they grabbed the rest of them over the years.

It’s expensive to go on the rides now. Gone are the days when you could buy 5 tickets for a buck and take a ride. Now it’s all about day passes and wristbands and amusement ride/water park passes. I guess they followed the Disney model. I don’t know. Now if a family goes to the boardwalk and wants to play on the amusements they’re going to drop at least $200 before the night is out. I’m not thrilled by this premise, but I’ve never been a huge fan anyway. It’s now just a massive money generator.

I got down as far as the old Fun Pier which used to be trash in the 70s but is now built up and has a classic wooden rollercoaster called The Great White. I kind of wanted to ride that this weekend, but couldn’t figure out how much it would cost for one ride, or when the pier opened.

Now that it’s mid-day, the heat is killing me. July has been brutal this year, even at the shore.  So I turn around and head back.

Living in a city you become accustomed to seeing people dress a certain way all year round. But it’s always a little shocking to see women walking around in bikinis in broad daylight. I know it’s the shore and I’ve seen this every summer back in the day, but it just seems odd to see it now. Someone walking around in the equivalent of underwear in public. But I’m sure if I lived down here, I’d become accustomed to it. As jaded as I am, it still feels a little weird to me from living so long in a city. (Put a shirt on, Miss!)

The heat is killing me and my sister had said if I got tired she’d get in the car and come get me, but I want to press on and get my exercise today. I come upon Sam’s Pizza and I’m instantly pulled in by their tractor beam. (Star Wars reference) I’ve been walking for 3 hours and it’s time to consume some nostalgic slices.

Although Sam’s had legendary pizza back in the day, when I get my order, it seems hollow. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s just not the same. I don’t want to sound like a bitter old man who wants everything exactly like it was back in 1978, but it’s not the same. It doesn’t look or taste the same as it did back in the 70s. I don’t know what they did, but it’s changed. It was also really expensive. New York has the God pies and Philly has a few spots that make slamming pizza that I love. Sadly, Sam’s has become a disappointment as well. I want to love it, but I’m more in love with the memory of what it was and the fun we had there than the taste at this point. I’m trying to find the Wildwood I once loved but most of it’s gone.

At some point, I went to a place that’s up at 8th and New Jersey Aves for food. It was some sort of dog-themed burger joint. It was a little crowded and they only had outdoor seating. At least I was in the shade so I didn’t mind too much. But here’s the thing… I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a drink. The burger and the fries were served in dog dishes. Yea… what? The burger was blah and the bacon was bacon bits spread on it. It was awful.

I finally trudged out to Anglesea to the Wawa to buy Juul pods. It was the only place I could find that had them. At least they were cheap, $15 for a pack of 4. Better than Philly even with my local hook-up.

But overall it just doesn’t feel like Wildwood by the Sea anymore.

There are tiny pockets of Wildwood left on this island and don’t get me wrong, it’s nice down here, but it’s changed so much I feel like it’s more like Avalon and Stone Harbor now.

I’m going to continue my quest to see what’s left of my beloved seashore resort.

More tomorrow!

 

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

An Evening With James – Part 2

Yesterday I began the two-part saga of hanging out with my friend James. Thanks for tuning in for the conclusion!

The Lyft arrives and it’s a five-star driver with a pleasant personality and a clean car. I’m safe and on my way to see James. Based on my calculations I’m less than 15 minutes away from his house. But for some reason I guess I was traveling during a surge period and this ride is costing me $17! What the heck?

But I let it go because it was my mistake that got me here and I’m happy I’m safe and in an air-conditioned, clean vehicle to my friend’s doorstep. I chat with the driver and he points out all of the hot spots in town on our way there. Noted. I’ll pass these recommendations onto James when I see him. He’s single now and should get out in the real world to hunt and not so much on these dating apps.

He drops me off and I knock on James’s front door. After a few minutes, I hear a window opening above my head. I look up and James is sticking his head out the window. “Didn’t you get my text? The door’s open. I’m just out of the shower.”

I go in and head for the kitchen. He has a jar full of those peanut butter-filled pretzels on the counter and I munch on a few of them. Nothing’s changed since I was here last. Several pieces of furniture are gone, but he’s set up a turntable and some speakers next to the 50 plus liquor bottles in the corner of the room. He wants to install a bar of some type to put his collection into but he’s just been too busy. But it’s been a productive busy. Lots of interesting dates and the obligations of running his talent agency.

I think about the last time I was here. Lethal cocktails, beers, burgers, and dogs. I loved it all but at my age, none of the above loves me back anymore. I was under the weather for 2 days after that last time. That won’t happen again, right?

James comes down and starts making cocktails. I’m petting one of his exotic cats. I like the grey and black one that resembles a tiger. James thinks that cat is an a$$hole but I like him because he’s so handsome.

James gives me one of his famous Manhattans. It packs a punch but is delicious. Are you supposed to use 100 proof rye whiskey in that drink? Probably not, but  I can’t say no to a freshly made quality cocktail that’s made with authentic ingredients right down to the brandied berry on the toothpick. Plus… they’re free. Free always tastes better than paid for. James makes really good cocktails and never scrimps on the quality.

So I tell him about the last few weeks of non-stop commercial writing assignments, my encounters with Lin, and my harrowing trip to get here today. Then it’s his turn.

His life now that he’s single sounds like my life when I started this blog back in 2016. Non-stop dates, events, and oceans of alcohol.

He’s hungry, so he whips up some tasty little frozen chicken nuggets. James is the king of hot sauce and dipping and he brings out the plate of snacks. He’s telling me about all of his dates in detail, (which I love because I’m now living vicariously through my young apprentice) and we munch on the chicken while sipping our potent beverages. (I even ripped off a few little bits and fed them to his cat which he enjoyed!) James told me that could give the cat diarrhea later but I figured a few little scraps wouldn’t hurt him. Cats have far more robust and septic digestive systems than humans or even dogs.

The next couple of cocktails I consumed were whiskey and coffee liqueur based and they were delicious. But I was already buzzing from my first Manhattan.  Did I know that these venomous drinks were a recipe for a hangover tomorrow? Of course, I did. But did it at any time cross my mind during this social visit with my friend? No, it did not.

So, it turns out I was right about his motives for the evening. It was number 2. Strip club. Okay, James. Whatever you want buddy. You’ve never been there and you should at least see what it’s all about.

We’ve been chatting for a few hours and through several cocktails and I’m fine with it. It was probably around 10:30 or 11:00 by the time he called the Lyft to take us to Delilah’s.

Delilah’s describes itself on their website as “a landmark in Philadelphia for over a quarter-century. Over that time Delilah’s has established itself as the premier entertainment destination for business travelers, celebrities, and uninhibited Philadelphians alike.”

That sounds great, but that’s never what any of these kinds of places are like. Even using the phrase, “gentlemen’s club” is abhorrent. You can hang whatever title you want on any of these joints and they are all just strip joints, plain and simple. It can be big, and fancy with tall stripper poles and lots of fancy lights, stages, and music, but it’s all the same stuff.

A den of iniquity full of sleazy, sweaty losers who are looking to escape reality. A place where these losers can flash some money and get the attention of a few desperate, damaged women in skimpy outfits. The last time I was here, was for my friend Duncan after his divorce. I don’t go to places like this because I never need to. I can meet real women in the real world. Places like this are gross and so are the men who frequent them.

I used to know a guy that was addicted to these scum holes. He has no personality or game of any kind and has blown thousands of dollars at places like this. He’s always been a sleazy loser and this is the only way he can ever get the attention of fit young women. He has to pay for it. Pathetic.

The women who work there are usually all mentally damaged in some form. What girl chooses to end up in a vocation where she has to parade around in her underwear for a living and be nice to a bunch of gross losers while they stuff dollar bills in her bra or thong? No little girl ever dreams of being a stripper when she grows up. She’s been damaged by someone along the way. It’s so sad.

We arrive and go inside. We’re both in good spirits due to the amount of distilled spirits flowing through our veins and just being together. James pays our cover which was $10 each. We have to go through a vigorous security process similar to getting on a plane. Maybe worse. Patted down by burly security guards, put your keys, wallet, and phone in a tray while you pass through a metal detector to enter the club. I whipped out my vaccination card but nobody cared. As long as I wasn’t packing any weapons they didn’t care if we were patient zero and carriers of covid and ebola!

We walk up to the first bar as you enter the main area. The last time I was here I prefer to sit in the back because it’s quiet and a bit more remote. But James has never been here before and he’s dazzled by the energy of the place and all the female pulchritude.

Within 30 seconds two attractive blondes in skimpy outfits were upon us.

Have you ever walked onto the property of a used car lot? What’s the first thing that happens? Right… you are immediately accosted by some sleazy used car salesman who descends upon you like a desperate starving vulture.

That’s what it felt like. These girls are looking to maximize their earnings each night and we are simply ATMs. They charm us with their wiles to figure out our emotional PIN, and their job is to separate us from our cash.

These two hapless souls were all over us from the minute we got to the bar. We barely had time to order a couple of Stella Artois. James picked up on the vibe immediately, and we got our beers and headed to the back away from these cute piranhas.

We take our seats at the end of one of the bars and enjoy the show. The women that work at Delilah’s are better looking than the gals that work at some of the other clubs in town. This is the premier place, right? But as I said, it’s all the same trip in every one of these places across the nation.

James seems to be getting into the spirit of things though, so I’m happy he’s having a good time. He’s never been here so being newly single again, he’s glad he can go where he pleases and do what he wants and doesn’t have to answer to anyone anymore. He doesn’t have to get permission from his girlfriend to go live the life he wants.

I tell him since I wasn’t entirely sure we were coming here tonight I didn’t prepare. (I never prepare because I never go to places like this.) When you go to a strip club you should always bring plenty of cash because it’s king in these joints. Cash for lap dances in the private rooms and lots of singles for stuffing in G-strings.

So against my better judgment, I head over to the ATM. Now, when I used to go to the Gold Club down in center city with Johnny R before I cut that alcoholic loser off, I knew to never use their mac machine. Here’s why… Strip clubs know they have a captive audience full of drunk, horny losers. They exploit every inch of that real estate. Crappy drinks are overpriced, the girls are money-hungry jackals, and the fee to use the mac machine is usually jacked up. They know you don’t want to leave to get more money. You want that lap dance from that hottie who’s been teasing you for the last hour with promises of love and maybe other things in the back room.

The Gold Club is a place where sexual stuff can happen. I’ve witnessed Johnny R get all kinds of favors from the girls there in the back room. It’s a low-class place and the staff isn’t as pretty as at Delilah’s so they’re more apt to give a few favors for the right price.

The ATM fee at the Gold club is around $6. Which is twice to three times what you’d pay at an average ATM anywhere else in the city. But dudes pay it and probably don’t even notice they’re getting hit with the fee. Being drunk and horny clouds their vision. But, here I am at Delilah’s, the “classy” joint in town and I’m about to take money from their ATM. I figure, what the heck. I’m only going to write all about this later and it’ll be more informative to my readers if they know the real deal.

So I go to the mac machine and put my debit card in. I choose to take out $80. I get my four twenties and receipt and head back to the bar to see James.

I pull out the receipt from the machine and show it to him. He doesn’t notice it at first, but see if you can.

Yea… a horror show. A $16 fee just to get your money out of that thing! That’s highway robbery!

I’m a cheapskate anyway when I go to these kinds of hellholes, so seeing this I knew I would NOT be spending much money in this dump. I wouldn’t anyway, but wow. Just wow. It made me wish that I was the owner of that ATM. What a cash cow!

James laughs in surprise and whips out a neatly wrapped stack of $100 in one-dollar bills he has to have gotten from his local bank of account. I laughed at his planning. Well done, James! You came prepared. You’re a regular boy scout!

I gave him 2 twenties and he reluctantly counted out $40 in one-dollar bills to me in exchange.

He’s been chatting with probably the prettiest, fit dancer in the place and tells me he’s going off to get a lap dance. Good for him. He needs to experience this place to its fullest. But I think he’s in for a rude awakening. We all know what happens and NEVER happens in the champagne room at Delilah’s.

While he’s gone two really cute Hispanic girls approach me. They’re both adorable and alluring. I haven’t seen them in here all night, nor have I seen either one of them dances on stage. They both proceed to cut right to the chase. “Give us $300 and you can come in one of the back rooms and have s*x with us. (Gotta watch the words I use here. Google Adsense flags anything sexy on my sight now. If I want to earn ad revenue on here, I gotta keep it clean) I graciously decline their offer, as tempting as these two lovely sirens are.

James returns 15 minutes later, and I ask him how was his “lapper” with the brunette.

“Sucked. She sort of writhed and hovered over me, and there was no touching.”

“Welcome to an upscale gentleman’s club, James. You can get tossed for touching in this place.”

I can tell James is disappointed with what we’ve experienced thus far. We throw back a few beers and the good news is, neither of us was drunk. I tell him that even though I had to let my friend Johnny R go because of his multiple addictions and failure, the guy was right. He never wanted to come to Delilah’s. He always preferred the Gold Club in the center city because he liked its authenticity. It doesn’t pretend to be a classy joint like this place does. It knows it’s a sleazy strip club and it does it well. The girls are average and very friendly, the day shift is a little scary, but at least they’re truthful with what they provide and what they are.

By the end of the night, we were approaching the 2 am witching hour and last call. James was determined to spend some money apparently and stay in the spirit of things. He was crumbling up bills and tossing them onto the stage. At one point he went to the edge of the stage and just laid out money along the edge. It was all one-dollar bills but he seemed to be enjoying himself despite the grinding disappointment of this place and their ilk.

He encouraged me to do the same so I placed 2 bills on the edge of the stage. God, I hate these places but I love James, so who cares. We had a fun night out. I took a LYFT home and he was within walking distance of his house so he headed home.

When I get home, I notice my clothes smelled of cigarette and cigar smoke and I reek of cheap perfume. Hopefully, a hot shower will wash the stench from me, but sadly the women that work there can’t wash off that kind of a shame.

And the best part? I got a colorful story out of it, and when I checked my wallet the next morning  I still had most of my money! I had $38 in ones and $40 in twenties, so at least I didn’t get fleeced last night!

The only thing is, I didn’t have a migraine the next day, but all those rich cocktails did give me a headache for the rest of the day, and my stomach has been a little shakey for two days.

I’m getting too old for this rich life, but I’m having fun doing it. I think next time we go out, I’ll stick to spiked seltzers, lots of water, and some good food to sop up the booze.

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

There’s Clarity in the Truth

It’s been a helluva year coming through another year of covid. We were all quarantined for months and had little freedom. Some couples grew closer, and some broke apart. A guy I used to work with told me back on March 14, 2020, that he had just broken up with his girlfriend because she was an alcoholic. Months later I saw on Instagram that they had gotten engaged! I have another friend who had been in a relationship for 7 years and wanted to break up with his girlfriend for a while, but then covid hit. Keeping them together for another year. He dumped her a month or so ago and has finally been freed from an unhappy union.

I’ve been helping him with all of his dating app profiles and even hopped back on Tinder myself for a minute. I’m glad he’s getting back out there after 7 years because he’s obviously been unhappy for some time, and now he can live the life he wants. He’s been going out on some interesting dates in the last few weeks and it looks like he’s well on his way to getting back in the game. He’s only 34 years old and has plenty of time to figure out what he wants in his life going forward.

On the other hand, I deleted the Tinder app from my phone after 2 weeks because it just doesn’t seem like something I want to be bothered with anymore. At my age and experience, it feels like all that dating app nonsense is just filled with a bunch of leftovers and losers.

I’m not saying everyone on there is a loser, but it just seems silly for someone of my age and level of the game should waste time swiping on a bunch of old ladies wishing they could recapture what they lost in their collective divorces. The profile all read the same to me. I’ve covered this subject extensively in previous posts, so I’m not going to go into it here.

I’ve decided that at 59 years old I’d rather just be alone and live my life here in Rittenhouse and not be responsible for anyone else’s happiness anymore. I don’t answer to anyone, and come and go as I please. I don’t think it’s fair to anyone that I get their hopes up and for them to think that they could maybe have a future with me. I’m just over it.

That could change, but for me being in a relationship is exhausting. If you’ve read this blog and my books you’ll know I’m a spectacular date, but a lousy boyfriend and an even worse husband. I just like being single and living my life on my schedule and pace. I’ve been in several relationships and fallen in love a bunch of times, and there’s nothing like that feeling when the dopamine drops and I fall in love. (or the idea of love and not the actual person) As I said, it’s not fair to any woman to have to deal with me.

This may all seem surprising coming from the guy who used to write a dating and relationship blog every day, but it’s how I feel now. My life has had so many interesting chapters and decades. But I’m not in my 30s or 40s anymore. I’m not even in my 50s anymore! Turning 59 in August might as well be turning 60. Who cares at this point.

But I’m not dead and the old horse can still get up and run and pull the plow if needed!

I’ve talked to several of my friends and they all think I’ve maybe got one more bullet in the chamber to take a shot at love again. But I don’t think so. Especially after the last year. I’ve become accustomed to being on my own, and just writing my blog and working on my books.

I decided that if I meet someone and it’s random, or we connect in some organic way out in the world, then maybe. But beyond that, I could care less.

My whole life I’ve been driven by my libido and desire. It’s a tiring lifestyle. I don’t regret anything and I’ve had a great time. I’ve done so many things and I now know what’s important in my life. My health, my family and friends, creating stories, and whatever I have to look forward to in the future. I feel good and I just did a nice 5-mile walk today around the city and it felt glorious. Just to feel the sunshine on my face and know that it’s “all systems go.” I just finished a 3-week gruelling binge of writing commercial articles for several businesses. The money’s great and I’m still learning so much about writing and generating good content. It puts food on the table and fills each day with a sense of accomplishment and gives me purpose.

I couldn’t be happier.

I think what happens to people is, they reach maturity or some form of it in their twenties. They get a good job, get married, and crack off a couple of kids. It’s traditional and falls in line with what they know and what their parents did, and what society reflects upon them.

But that’s never been for me. I’ve done all of that and all the stuff, money, and responsibilities that come with that just didn’t suit me. I’m happiest when I’m creating something and growing and evolving as a person. I think you have to always be growing and changing. Not changing like you need to become someone different… just getting better. Always build and refine your soul into the best person you can be.

I see so many people get stuck at a certain age and they just stop growing. This became apparent to me when I would run into one of my old crew before covid. So much has changed in the last year, but most of these people remained the same. All they want to do is the same stuff and haven’t seized this opportunity to look inward and learn something new or change their lives.

Covid and isolation during the last year have taught me so much about myself. I guess I kind of figured all of this out in my 40s and 50s but it’s now more clear to me than ever. I’ve watched so many simply circle the drain of their existence that I can no longer have them in my life.

There was a guy that attached himself to me several years ago when I met him in the hospitality industry. The guy is 53 and is an absolute disaster. It’s so sad. I can’t imagine reaching that age and being so clueless about myself and the world around me. I have an acute sense of the ways of the world and a strong sense of identity… now more than ever.

I had tried to cut that guy loose back in 2018, but he kept contacting me and would show up at my job. I didn’t know what to do with him even after it became clear to me that he suffered from mental illness. But once covid struck, it was easy to pull away and let him go forever. It was a relief that I no longer had to deal with his madness anymore.

There was another guy  I was friends with for many years since my days at the Inquirer back in 2012. He was an interesting character that I saw a few times a year because he lives up in Northeast Philly. But I realized over the last 10 years this guy hasn’t changed or improved himself… or his life at all.

I have nothing in common with him, so after years of grinding disappointment, I cut him off. He’s just not a person I want in my life anymore. He’s a loser and will always be a loser. If he was going to become anything other than a drunk, it would have happened by now. So there won’t be any more stories about Johnny R in Phicklephilly anymore. You can search for his stories on here if you want to read about our former adventures, but he’s gone for good.

It became clear to me that I could no longer waste my precious productive time on some of the detritus in my life. The covid pandemic made this clear to me. You find out who your friends are in a crisis. I haven’t needed anyone, but the people that I value have all shone brightly in my world through this pandemic. And for that, I’m very grateful.

But just like always, I’m a bit long-winded when I tell a story. This post was supposed to be about someone I met recently. (Don’t get excited. Nothing’s happening.)

This post started about how I don’t want to date anymore and how things may go for me in the future. It sort of dissolved into what you just read above. But…did it dissolve, or did I just need to get that out of my system when I sat down to write something new?

You know, you’d figure the last thing I’d want to do after generating a couple of dozen articles over the last few weeks for multiple corporations would be to write on my first day off in weeks.

But here I am, tapping away and spreading the word. But I suppose this all needed to be said. I’ll try again after this to write about the person I recently met. It was the old fashion way, which I like.

I’ve not finished dating. I don’t even care if nothing comes out of this. It’s just nice to know that if this lion spots a nice gazelle, then it’s still game on.

 

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

Freelance Commercial Writer

Happy New Year!

I’ve been writing this blog since 2016. In the beginning, it started as a hobby. A way for me to have a forum to tell stories about my dating and relationship exploits.

After about a year or so, I added the Dating and Relationship Advice articles to not only help my readers with their dating endeavors but to increase content which in turn, increased page views.

My goal was to at least reach 250k in page views by year 4. We achieved that goal early last year. During that time I added WordPress ads and was finally approved for Google AdSense. They run random ad buys on my site that generates revenue 24/7, 365 days a year.

So, all good. Between that and content links I place for advertisers, and banner ads I run on my site from clients and brands, it pays for the site.

But, when covid hit I found myself unemployed. No worries. Get paid by the government to write good content about my past and write and publish books? Yea, I’ll take that for a year and a half.

I knew that “grant money” would eventually run out and I’d probably have to go back to work in some form. But I had been in contact with a friend who was the former editor at a media site where we both worked several years ago.

She was building websites and writing articles for several businesses and was beginning to feel the stress of getting too many to write. So, she gave me the overflow. I had never written industry stuff in my life, so I was curious to see if I could get it done. But I figured, if I’ve been writing and publishing this blog for the last 5 years and have published 6 books, I’d probably be able to figure it out.

I started to write articles about subjects I knew little about. A solar panel company in Colorado, a stock photo company in Canada, skin and health care articles, lists of activities to do with your kids in Summer, storage facilities, a hot tub company, real estate and some IT stuff.

It was quite a challenge at first because it’s a completely new style and structure of writing I had ever done. But after a while, I picked it up, and off we went. It was at times a grinding experience and I really found out what it meant to be a commercial writer. It’s not sitting in the back of a bar sipping drinks and eating wings and writing about the girl I went on a date with last night. It’s not some cool romantic thriller novel born from my imagination.

It’s a daily 10 to 12 hour a day writing gig, with hard deadlines and many demands from clients. Sometimes I doubted myself but knew that if I stuck with it I could crank out quality content and get paid for it.

And I did.

The money’s good, and I’m going to see how long I can do this before I lose my mind.

Wish me luck!

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

Sex Worker Reveals What It’s Really Like To Be A Stripper & Prostitute

Here’s a submission from one of my readers. Enjoy!

Stripping and prostitution aren’t all bad, but sex work is no walk in the park.

Being a sex worker can be a blast.

Easy money that’s fun to make. Partying for a living. Getting a great workout, and sometimes even having great sex, on the job. Going to great restaurants and staying at nice hotels on someone else’s dime. Meeting lots of cool people and making them feel great. Fulfilling clients’ fantasies while escaping your own troubles. Having the opportunity to travel all over the country and even the world, while remaining gainfully employed and recouping any costs incurred.

One of the biggest perks working as a stripper and prostitute is the high earning-to-time-expended ratio.

Students, single moms, and aspiring artists can literally buy themselves time to live the other aspects of their lives, such as supporting dependents and pursuing higher education.

Writing has always been my greatest talent, and I have a sensitive writer’s temperament. Stripping and escorting have helped inspire and sustain my writing, but they’ve also exposed me to genuinely heartbreaking things.

Sure, there are things about stripping and escorting that irritate me — like people not tipping at the stage when I’m working the pole hard and Johns canceling appointments last minute — but then there are things that have an emotional impact on me as well.

Here are the ten most heartbreaking aspects of being a sex worker.

1. We see clients (mainly men) at their most vulnerable.

Guys really spill their guts to you and it can be quite draining. Sometimes you just smile and nod at inane rambling, but other times the conversation gets pretty damn real.

You see guys who are mentally disturbed, addicts, and physically disabled. But most of all, you see guys who want to vent about their marriage issues or drink their pain away, using you as an enabler.

2. Law enforcement treats murdered or raped sex workers as sub-human.

There’s a degrading expression among cops. The term “no human involved” (NHI) is utilized when a murder victim is a sex worker, especially if the victim is a trans woman of color.

We don’t get the Natalee Holloway media treatment if we go missing. And crimes against only make the news when someone famous — like Eliot Spitzer, Charlie Sheen, or an intriguing serial killer — is involved.

3. Feminists don’t have our backs and drown out our voices with their own.

I’m a bit sick of Tina Fey being lauded as a feminist when she thrives on jokes that shame and dehumanize sex workers.

If you watch “30 Rock” or read her book “Bossypants” from a sex workers’ point of view, you’d be shocked by how little she thinks of us. Other feminists who hold higher degrees and teach at prestigious institutions have gotten the general public, federal government, and chief executive officer himself on board with the conflation of sex trafficking and consensual sex work.

You’ve noticed what a trendy topic sex trafficking (modern slavery) is, right? It’s really hit the mainstream, but feminists, law enforcement, and federal lawmakers don’t have a damn clue how to actually distinguish voluntary sex workers from exploited trafficking victims.

Instead, by enacting bills like FOSTA-SESTA, they’re letting the bad apples make it harder for the rest of us to do things such as bank and avoid housing discrimination.

4. We are disenfranchised from mainstream society.

A few years back, Chase Bank was accused of shutting down the bank accounts of adult entertainers and their spouses, even when the work they do is legal.

When porn star Teagan Presley received a letter from Chase saying accounts belonging to herself and her husband were being closed, she was told in person by someone at the bank it was because she was deemed to be “high risk.”

Soon after, Frank Keating, CEO of the American Bankers Association, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he claimed the US Department of Justice was actively involved in the situation.

“Operation Choke Point,” he wrote, “is asking banks to identify customers who may be breaking the law or simply doing something government officials don’t like … Banks must then ‘choke off’ those customers’ access to financial services, shutting down their accounts.”

Sex workers have used other services like Paypal, Bitcoin, GreenDot Cards, MoneyPaks, and more to obtain deposits from clients, and law enforcement keeps catching on to us and shutting down various resources. The closures of Craigslist’s adult section, Backpage, and websites like MyRedbook (where sex workers could advertise), have forced some of us onto the streets to survive.

Federal authorities portray these moves as ways to protect underage sex trafficking victims and bust money-laundering pimps, but what they really do is endanger consenting sex workers who are of age and willingly involved in the industry in the process. This kind of discrimination is why a lot of us, including myself for a time, literally live out of hotels.

5. We will forever be defined by our time as sex workers.

I’m not fame-obsessed like most Americans. I don’t care about celebrities and I don’t care to become one. However, now that I’ve worked not only as a stripper but as a full-blown hooker, I’m terrified of becoming a successful writer or public figure. I’m worried that a single Tweet or viral blog post could put me under the microscope and do me in.

Aside from certain careers where a sex worker’s past isn’t such a big deal, our career options can be severely limited for the rest of our lives.

People like writer and producer Diablo Cody (whose real name is Brook Maurio) are burdened with having to forever field interview questions about stripping. Olympic runner Suzy Favor Hamilton, who briefly worked as an escort, had her name stripped from the Big Ten female athlete of the year award and has been burdened with having to explain that part of her life using another stigmatized subject, mental health, to explain her actions and make them somewhat more acceptable to society.

6. We watch people do themselves in with drug addictions.

You meet a great deal of proud recovering alcoholics and addicts as a sex worker, but you also meet tons of clients and colleagues looking for an enabler or looking for a place to drink or do drugs with someone.

I lost one stripper friend to a heroin overdose, and she had a somewhat rapid unraveling. Her first relapse was booze, and the needle soon followed.

Hearing girls in the dressing room boast about being off “H” for a few days was depressing, to say the least, as was seeing others zoned out of their mind on Xanax or booze, moving about like numb zombies.

I’ve personally abused Adderall when stripping, causing me to act strung out, and I’ll see people taking higher-stakes chances with their lives.

I’ve tried to help out strippers who were living out of hotels by offering them accommodations with me or offering to loan them the house free for the night. It’s draining to repeatedly try in vain to help people who won’t help themselves.

7. We lead double lives and have to lie all the time.

There are some out and proud prostitutes, while others have been outed against their will.

Lying is both exhausting and something that doesn’t come easily to me. I gloss over discussions of work with my family and steer conversations toward my hobbies, volunteering, and culture consumption, and inquiries about other family members.

When it comes to dating, I’ve disclosed to several men that I stripped (and even met some men I’ve dated at the clubs), but I’ve never disclosed being an escort to any guy. Not getting really serious with guys is a defense mechanism; I fear domestic violence or retribution like online shaming.

On a day-to-day basis, I’m always fudging my work situation a bit, sometimes in front of people who know the truth. These days, I’ve made progress proving to my family that my mental health has improved and is being better managed; however, it’s hard to have the weight of hypocrisy on my shoulders as I lie about my main source of income.

8. There’s rampant racism.

There is tremendous pressure for escorts to lower their price points and sell themselves short, thanks to the internet keeping prices competitive, just like it does for other industries.

And as is the case in other fields, minority women are often under more pressure to resort to this than their white counterparts.

When I work at the strip club, it seems like guys consider the minority girls more “attainable” if they’re thinking strictly with their penises. On the flip side, tons of white escorts have “No Blacks Allowed” policies, in the same way, many escorts don’t “see” men under 30.

While I’m all about sex workers setting and maintaining their own boundaries, having a blanket “No Blacks Allowed” policy seems a tad overzealous.

I admit I’m guilty of racism at times. I too often ignore black customers at the strip club, even when there are no other customers or I’ve already tried all the others. I’ll sometimes roll my eyes when young minority men get bottle service and make it rain on the big booty girl, while not tipping me a single dollar for hanging upside down on a 20-foot pole.

9. People feel entitled to our bodies outside of respectful parameters.

I refuse to work at full-nude strip clubs and was reminded why the other night when both of my first two lap dance recipients tried to sneak their hands under my thong.

There are a ton of guys out there who think buying a $20 lap dance entitles them to finger us, touch our breasts, whip their penises out, or even get a quick blowjob or handjob.

Before switching to escorting, I remember a guy ejaculating after two lap dances and thinking to myself, “How is getting a guy off for $40 any better than turning a cheap trick? If I’m going to get guys off, I should charge what an intellectual college grad deserves.”

All sex workers have different boundaries, but guys seem to find out what they are by crossing them instead of asking first.

As a whore, I provide companionship with a side of mostly vanilla sex acts for money. If a client forces anal sex on me, that’s a form of rape. If he forces sex without a condom on me, that’s a form of rape. If he threatens to write a bad review about me if I don’t perform a certain sex act or forego a condom, that’s a form of rape.

I’m usually able to use the internet to weed out bad guys, but this behavior knows no class or race.

10. There’s constant cyber-bullying.

A website called The Erotic Review is my arch-nemesis. Since I began escorting in 2010, that site has gotten even worse at bullying escorts into compromising our boundaries, namely whether or not we allow reviews and how we let the threat of bad reviews impact our appointments, our price points, and our-self esteem.

To earn a 10/10 on “performance,” unsafe sex is required. The term “BBBJ” (bareback blow job, i.e. condomless) is extremely in demand, and that was bad enough, but now clients can report when girls allow “BBFS” (bareback full service, as in condomless sex, and perhaps even condomless anal sex).

Girls who are naive, uneducated, or who rely on sites like these for free advertising pander to these jerks and escort agencies only contribute to the problem. Guys who pay less expect more, and they complain when they don’t get it. Guys who pay more tend to be more discreet.

I’ve worked with four agencies, all female-owned, and found that the owners are invariably in it for themselves, which means offering competitive prices and catering to review board culture. Thankfully, my agency work has never compromised my independent brand.

 

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

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

The Bizarre Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allen Poe is a Halloween Story Of Its Own

More than 150 years ago, Edgar Allen Poe, literary icon and father of gothic horror, died a dark and untimely death. His demise is shrouded in so much mystery, the story could easily be plucked from the pages of one of his books.

(Cue thunder and lightning.)

Edgar Allen Poe is a name synonymous with suspense and dark romance. His poem “The Raven” is a classic that still appears in modern pop culture, and yes, a football team named themselves after it. Without his book “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” the world’s very first detective story, we very well might not have the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. His beloved moody aesthetic has even inspired other prolific cultural icons such as Salvador Dali and Alfred Hitchcock, according to Biography.

And with the recent news that Mike Flanagan, creator of Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” will be adapting “The Fall of the House of Usher” into a series, Poe’s name is buzzing around yet again.

Though many of us can recite a famous morbid line or two, not everyone knows about the tragic life and utterly bizarre death of the Master of Macabre.

It seems Poe was destined to become well acquainted with melancholy, and even some scandal. Born to transient, alcoholic actors—both who died within a few days of each other—Edgar was sent off to a foster home when he was just 2 years old. Later, at age 27, he secretly married his cousin Virginia … who was 13. To be fair, we’re still not sure if this was indeed a romantic relationship. It’s certainly a conversation starter in cultural relativism circles though. Oh, did I mention that the controversial relationship was also cut short by death, when Virginia was overcome with tuberculosis? Are you surprised? Me neither.

Edgar Allen Poe’s child bride Virginiaupload.wikimedia.org

During his life, Poe was the poster boy for “starving artist.” Struggling to make any sort of money from his work, he resorted to gambling to pay off debts. Spoiler alert: It led to more debt … We’re talking burning your furniture to stay warm kind of poor. Not a good look. It eventually led him to joining the army to escape his creditors.

“The Raven” was Poe’s first worldwide success. Other works like “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” began gaining popularity and critical acclaim. At long last, the writing career he had pursued since the age of 13 was finally coming to fruition.

And then….DEATH! Behold, I’ll tell the tale.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poeupload.wikimedia.org

Once upon a midnight dreary … it was a rainy night in Baltimore, 1849. Election Day (more on that later), a man was found addled, immovable and in the shabby clothes of a stranger. That man was none other than Poe. He spent the next three days in delirium, flowing in and out of hallucinations and calling the name “Reynolds,” who to this day, is unidentified. The great poet’s last words ever uttered were said to be: “Lord help my poor soul.”

Though an official record states the cause of death as “brain swelling,” it has sparked much speculation and alternative theories.

There’s the good ol’ fashioned “beating by ruffians” theory, thought to have happened after friends left Poe in a drunken stupor. Or, for something a bit more sensational, the gang fight could have been instigated by a woman who “considered herself injured” by Poe. Seeing as Poe had a reputation for tumultuous romances, this is entirely plausible.

Then there’s a possible “cooping.” Don’t know what “cooping” is? I didn’t either. But Smithsonian Magazine defines it as “a method of voter fraud practiced by gangs in the 19th century where an unsuspecting victim would be kidnapped, disguised, and forced to vote for a specific candidate multiple times under multiple disguised identities.” It added that before Prohibition, alcohol was often given as a reward for voting. So basically, Poe could have been voted to death. You really can die from anything.

One doctor has hypothesized that rabies was to blame. This theory has a few reported kinks to it, however, as there was no evidence of hydrophobia. Yeah, apparently a common side effect of rabies is a fear of water!

A more modern theory developed when Poe’s grave was dug up and, inside his skull, an unidentified mass was found. A mass that studies now show could have been a lethal brain tumor. I, for one, could see a mind like Edgar Allan Poe’s eating him slowly from the inside in silent agony. And they say that you don’t have to be pained to be creative.

There are still other theories of carbon monoxide poisoning, heavy metal poisoning, and, yes, alcohol poisoning. Though that last one is a tad boring.

Portrait of Edgar Allan Poeupload.wikimedia.org

No matter which theory ends up being true, the legacy of Edgar Allan Poe is one that continues to bewilder, inspire, disturb and delight us. In a way, he is the absolute epitome of transfiguring the grotesque into the beautiful, both in life and in art. And his romantic, yet sorrowful spirit lives on in our retellings of his beloved classics.

Though he himself is nevermore, his poetic style will remain timeless forevermore.

 

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

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

Tales of Rock – 10 Fascinating Band Name Origin Stories

Picking a band name is no easy feat, as it will have an enormous impact on how you are perceived by the world. There are many fantastic band names out there, but of course there are also some pretty terrible ones too. But regardless of whether the name is good or bad, it is always fascinating to hear how they came about. There are some excellent band name origin stories for many of the biggest acts of all time, including these 10 iconic groups.

10. Nickelback

While they are not the most popular band (anymore) and constantly the butt of jokes, the origin of Nickleback’s name is quite interesting. The name came from bassist Mike Kroeger (brother of frontman Chad), who was working at Starbucks when the band formed. With prices at $2.95 and $3.95, he would constantly be saying here’s your nickel back” to customers after each transaction. When they were trying to come up with a name, the phrase “nickel back” stuck in his head and he suggested it to his brother. Chad thought it was perfect, and Nickelback was born. Despite the endless abuse that they receive, Nickelback is one of the most successful rock acts of the 2000s, with “How You Remind Me” being the best-selling rock song of the decade. They have sold over 50 million albums worldwide, making them one of the most successful Canadian groups ever.

9. Queens of the Stone Age

Originally called Gamma Ray, founder Josh Homme was forced to change the name after a German power metal band of the same name threatened to sue. He settled on the unusual name Queens of the Stone Age, as this is how producer Chris Goss described his previous band Kyuss a few years earlier. On why he chose the name, Homme stated “Kings would be too macho. The Kings of the Stone Age wear armor and have axes and wrestle. The Queens of the Stone Age hang out with the Kings of the Stone Age’s girlfriends when they wrestle, and also it was a name given to us by Chris Goss. He gave us the name Queens of the Stone Age. Rock should be heavy enough for the boys and sweet enough for the girls. That way everyone’s happy and it’s more of a party. Kings of the Stone Age is too lopsided.”

8. Pearl Jam

There are a few suggestions as to the origin of legendary rock band Pearl Jam’s name, but they originally went under the name Mookie Blaylock. As any NBA fan will tell you, Mookie Blaylock is a former all-star who spent 13 years in the league. The band was fan of Blaylock, but they were forced to change their name due to trademark concerns. As a result, they named their hugely popular album Ten after Blaylock’s playing number (he was also a fan of the band). In an early interview, Eddie Vedder stated that they settled on Pearl Jam as a reference to his great grandmother, Pearl, who was married to a Native American and they had a special recipe for peyote-laced jam. This has also been dismissed, however, and some claim that “Jam” came from when they attended a Neil Young concert where he extended his songs with lengthy jams.

7. 30 Seconds to Mars

After playing their first concerts under a few different names, Jared Leto and his brother Shannon settled on the name 30 Seconds to Mars, which was taken from a manuscript titled Argus Apocraphex. Written by an ex-professor of Harvard, this was the title of one of the subsections. It discusses the exponential growth of technology that relates to humans and saying that we are literally 30 seconds to Mars. For Leto, he found that the phrase perfectly encapsulated their music and he explained it as a metaphor for the future and how it “works on several different levels, a phrase that is lyrical, suggestive, cinematic, and filled with immediacy.” The band went on to be immensely successful, but in these early days, Jared Leto would not allow the use of his Hollywood fame as a promotional tool for the band.

6. Led Zeppelin

Often said to be the greatest and most influential band of all time, hard-rocking British act Led Zeppelin first formed in London in 1968. They first formed under the name the New Yardbirds (in reference to Jimmy Page’s previous band, The Yardbirds), but they soon restyled themselves as Led Zeppelin. Now one of the most famous band names ever, the story goes that Keith Moon and John Entwistle were discussing the prospect of starting a supergroup with themselves, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, and they stated it would “go down like a lead zeppelin” (“lead balloon is a British idiom for an ill-conceived idea, with a zeppelin essentially being a much bigger balloon and therefore a worse idea). The band decided to intentionally change “lead” to “led” so that it would be correctly pronounced. It is now an iconic name for one of the greatest bands of all time.

5. The Velvet Underground

An enormously influential group that formed in 1965, the band name actually comes from an S&M book about a secret sexual subculture during the early ’60s, written by journalist Michael Leigh in 1963. It reports on Paraphilia in the USA, which is the experience of intense sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations, and individuals. The New York-based band decided to use the title of the book as their band name after Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison’s friend, a filmmaker called Tony Conrad, found a copy of the book lying in the street in New York. Morrison was a fan of the name as it reminded him of underground cinema, and it stuck. It is somewhat fitting, as the band achieved little success when they were active and could be considered “underground,” but are now deemed immensely important and influential.

4. Steely Dan

Steely Dan may seem like a fairly innocuous band name for the jazz-rock act founded by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen who were hugely popular in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but the story behind their band name is cheekier than most people realize. As fans of Beat Generation literature, the band named themselves after “Steely Dan III from Yokohama,” which is a sex toy mentioned in the novel Naked Lunch, written by William S. Burroughs in 1959. Not quite as innocent as most thought, Steely Dan has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2001. The band split up but reunited in 1993 and has toured consistently since.

3. 311

Nudity and rock and roll seem to go hand in hand, and this is exactly how popular American rock act 311 got their name. Formed in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1988 by Nick Hexum, Jim Watson, Aaron Wills, and Chad Sexton, the band name came from when Watson was arrested for streaking when he and some friends went skinny dipping in a public pool. He was arrested and handcuffed before being taken home to his parents, all completely naked. He was issued with a citation for code 311, which is a police code for indecent exposure in Omaha. The band found the story so amusing that they settled on 311 as their band name. Watson, the lead guitarist, would later leave the band and was replaced by Tim Mahoney. They are still going strong today, with 2014’s Stereolithic being their most recent studio album.

2. The Who

An excellent band name for one of the all-time great rock acts, The Who were originally called The Detours. Whilst searching for a new name for the group, people would come up to the members with their suggestions. There were a lot of odd suggestions, which frequently saw the likes of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend, and Keith Moon simply reply “the who?” Townsend and his roommate Richard Barnes also liked the theme of having joke announcements as a band name, such as “No One” or “The Group.” In another version of how the band name came about, Townsend’s grandmother would always refer to bands as “the who?” due to her impaired hearing. Whichever version is true, it turned out to be an excellent choice, as they would go on to become one of the greatest bands of all time and now everybody knows their name.

1. Lynyrd Skynyrd

The act is famed for popularizing southern rock through signature songs such as “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” Lynyrd Skynyrd first formed in 1964 in Jacksonville, Florida. They first went under the name My Backyard, and they would not settle on Lynyrd Skynyrd until 1969. They first decided on Leonard Skinnerd, which was a mocking tribute to the physical education teacher that all of the members had when they were in school together. This was a teacher that they disliked due to his strict enforcement of the school’s policy against boys having long hair, which led to Gary Rossington dropping out. The spelling was altered shortly after to avoid a lawsuit. With their success, they became friendly with the teacher in the later years and even invited him to introduce them at a concert in the Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum.

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Tales of Rock – Explicit Adventures of Traveling Rockstars

The annals of music history are rich with tales from the road — stories of questionable behavior, catastrophes in transit, run-ins with the locals, and shenanigans of the most bizarre and extreme order. Who could forget the infamous Led Zeppelin mudshark incident, or that time Frank Zappa was nearly killed when a crazed concertgoer, incensed by his girlfriend’s infatuation with the musician, pushed Zappa off the stage at London’s Rainbow Theatre?

Frank Zappa recovering after being pushed off stage

These stories are the stuff of music history legend; they become mythologized, and some are even completely fabricated, like Robert Johnson’s crossroads meeting with the devil, or Ozzy’s Alamo urination.

Such anecdotes have become an art form, a time-honored tradition in the culture of any genre of contemporary music. Thousands of biographies and memoirs recount the exploits of musicians on tour. And the notion of the “crazy tour story” hasn’t disappeared as legendary musicians hang up their boots or pass on to that great gig in the sky.

A new crop of bands and artists has taken up this mantle, constantly refilling the anecdotal coffers with fresh tales of mayhem. Sure, there are sexed-up narratives to be told, but the typical “so I took her back to the tour bus” story only has so much mileage to it. Wilder is the violent episodes, the truly catastrophic stuff. And while the escapades of big-name artists can prove droll, those of grassroots, touring bands are often more intriguing.

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The Holly Springs Disaster guitarist Josh Guillaume on tour in Stouffville, Ontario | Photo by Daniel Bray

Today, there’s an entire subset of the music industry, and innumerable careers, dedicated to chronicling such noteworthy events. Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, MTV News and TMZ — a dazzling array of media outlets keep us fully abreast of on-the-road monkeyshines of musicians from any stratum of fame, from one-hit wonders like Afroman, who recently made headlines for delivering a haymaker to a fan who was unlucky enough to be dancing behind him onstage, to superstars like Justin Bieber (no one’s forgotten what you did in Germany, Biebs). Outside the realm of celebrity, though, musicians are still getting into trouble, and their tour stories continuously add to the canon of lore that has come to define the archetype of the traveling musician.

Sauced

“This is what rock and roll is all about,” says “Evil” Jared Hasselhoff (real name: Hennegan), bassist for the raunchy pop-rock group The Bloodhound Gang (think, “You and me, baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals”►). He’s talking about a night in New Orleans 10 years ago, when he was working as a roadie on the Jägermeister Tour with Slayer, Archenemy, and Hatebreed. He tells this story between an anecdote about going to court to testify against some young punk (“this fucking ballbag”) who graffitied the Gang’s RV in Towson, Maryland, and a tale about filling his manager’s briefcase with old sushi one time in Berlin.

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Bloodhound Gang bassist “Evil” Jared Hasselhoff performs onstage at the V2000 Festival in the U.K., 2000 | Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

That night in New Orleans, the tour package was playing the House of Blues, and after soundcheck, Jared had gone to the Harrah’s next door to gamble a bit. “I made a huge mistake and had some mall sushi,” Hennegan says. The raw fish made Jared’s stomach churn and roil. He felt what he was sure was just a substantive fart building up, and he let ‘er rip. Unfortunately, Hennegan got more than he bargained for and his bowels voided themselves at that moment. “There was at least a solid cup of shit,” he claims. Jared’s stomach rumbled again and his gut expelled another wave of noxious waste. “It was everywhere,” he says. “It was, like, a quart of diarrhea.” Soiled, shit-stinking, and sick, Hennegan retired to his hotel room to lie down.

Several hours later, Evil Jared was back in action, hanging out with some other roadies in the venue’s VIP section. But the scene was grim: “No broads there; not a looker in the lot.” He grabbed the tour manager and headed to the bar next door, where they were soon approached by an enthused fan. “I think she’s half-Mexican, but she’s pretty hot,” he says.

“Yo, I know you work with the bands,” the girl proposed. “I’ll do anything if you get me into the show.”

Now, you might think you know exactly what happened next, but if you’re picturing a sordid, back-room exchange, you’d only be half-right. Evil Jared handed the girl “a shot of insanity hot sauce,” which she put down without issue. Then she took another. Jared escorted her backstage to the VIP section and went back to his hotel room to watch TV, while the girl proceeded to attack with gusto the green room’s generously stocked open bar.

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Jared Hasselhoff of Bloodhound Gang performs, pouring drinks for fans in the front row of the audience at Soundwave Festival at the Royal Melbourne Show Grounds on February 27, 2009, in Melbourne, Australia | Photo by Martin Philbey/Redferns

Two hours later, Hennegan was back at the House of Blues and had run into a hot-sauce girl. “This is the guy who got me in!” she screamed, hammered after a go at the open bar. She threw her arms around Jared and shoved her tongue into his mouth. “We weren’t really making out, more like she was molesting me,” Jared offers. She was sloppy, but that was hardly a deterrent. Wanting privacy, Jared took the girl through the back of the venue to a quiet area, pulled open a door, and stepped into a small room. “Even working for Jägermeister, making out with some pissed-up slapper in the middle of the VIP area is frowned upon.”

“I realize we’re in the trash room,” he says. The couple was literally surrounded by gargantuan piles of trash, heaped high and probably smelling like the contents of Jared’s underwear earlier that night. Things started getting hot and heavy between the two, and suddenly, the girl stopped the action to make a request. “I’m on the rag right now,” she said, before asking Jared to place himself someplace fairly uncomfortable. “She asked me to fuck her in the ass,” Jared says.

“I think she was from Memphis,” he concludes.

The Cinder Block Brawl

Daniel Bray, a Toronto-based photographer, was on the road with the hardcore group, The Holly Springs Disaster, when the tour ran into some trouble with the residents of Stouffville, a small town in Ontario. The tour package had played an “awesome” show, and the bands were loading out when “out of nowhere, a hail of rocks and chunks of red bricks came raining down on us.” The groups turned to see two kids chucking stones from an empty lot nearby, and sent four or five guys over to deal with the situation.

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Singer Mike Froh of The Holly Springs Disaster performing in Stouffville, Ontario | photo by Daniel Bray

They broke Hayden’s leg! Bray heard minutes later. “One of the dudes named Hayden, from one of the Calgary bands on tour, went over there to stop these kids who were throwing bricks,” he says. “And one of them picked up a full-size cinder block and threw it at Hayden, and it broke his leg badly above the ankle.”

While Bray stayed with Hayden to administer some rudimentary first aid and help him into a fan’s car, the rest of the tour package went off in search of the culprits. Heading back to the venue, Bray saw a kid dash past him, holding a skateboard, with eight guys in hot pursuit. Bray followed.

“I’m not sure who got to him first,” Bray says, “but they caught up to him right behind the backstop for the ball diamond. They tackled him and had him up against the chain-link [fence], feeding him punches, in no time. Everyone else joined in as soon as they got there.” The entire tour package laid into the kid, using his skateboard as a weapon against him.

One guitar player broke his hand on the kid’s face. “You know those oil barrels that are used as big garbage cans?” Bray asks, “I saw one of those full of garbage dumped on the guy then the barrel thrown at him. We beat this guy up till he was limp.”

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Hayden at the hospital | photo by Daniel Bray

A few minutes into the beating, two cops watched from the safety of their squad car. “Alright boys, he’s had enough,” said one, emerging from his car to drag the bloodied youth away from the melee. “The other cop told us that this guy was the town’s biggest shit disturber,” Bray says. “He fucked with every single band that came to town, and no one ever did anything about it.” According to Bray, the cop was “stoked we put an end to [the kid’s] shenanigans and taught him a lesson.”

Greyhound to Hell

It’s not unusual to hear of out-of-town bands getting into altercations with local folk, especially in rural areas and red states. Once, while on tour, I nearly found myself the victim of a hate crime in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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Paul Adler inside tour van “Connie,” left, and “Connie” parked in a residential area.

I had been working for a tiny record label on the 2010 Vans Warped Tour for six weeks, hawking my solo album in parking lots and spooning bags of ice while sleeping on the floor of our 15-passenger Ford van, “Connie.” The day after the Atlanta stop of the tour was to be an off-day, to give us time to make the drive to Cincinnati while those bands lucky enough to ride in buses had the chance to do some volunteer work. We woke up that morning in the empty parking lot of the festival grounds where the tour had stopped. We were freaked out. We’d heard gunshots nearby the night before.

We stopped at a gas station — where some guys pulled up next to our van and tried to sell us a VCR — and discovered the card we’d been using to gas up had expired. All we had was a couple of hundred dollars in the cash box, just enough to get the van back to our home base in D.C. The owner of the record label and I made the call to send the rest of our entourage back to D.C., giving them the cash to finance the trip. We would continue on to Cincinnati to shore up our contacts, as we assumed we’d want to get on the tour the next summer. We headed to the nearest Greyhound station to buy bus tickets.

Outside the station, we killed time waiting for our bus, crushing up Vicodin into a mason jar that’d once been home to moonshine-soaked berries. We mixed in some raspberry schnapps and some Svedka and drank deep, knowing we had a long ride ahead. We found a bum who sold us a $5 bag of weed, rolled a joint, and smoked in the van until we heard a knock at the window. It was two cops, who warned us this was a “rough neighborhood” and walked away.

As my buddy and I went to board our bus, a haggard-looking old man asked if we wanted to buy some Xanax, which we politely declined, as we were already pretty fucked up.

We got on the bus and, to our chagrin, the only two seats available were aisle seats directly across from each other. However, the seats weren’t entirely, well, available: the gentlemen taking up the respective window seats were so large that their torsos spilled over into our seats, leaving me and my buddy each with one cheek in the seat and one in the aisle. Uncomfortable as it was, it wasn’t long before we passed out.

I awoke at 5 p.m. at a bus station on the outskirts of Knoxville, irate and desperate for a beer. We had half an hour to kill, and I thought myself miraculously lucky when I found a bar right next door. But when I walked into the dank, dusky honky-tonk, I found myself in a scene akin to a classic movie. Every drunken day-shift worker put down his drink and stared right at me. These guys were white-bread, and I’m the kind of half-Indian who gets dark in the summer. On top of that, my tattoos were exposed and my beard was in full effect. “I’m going to die,” I thought.

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Marie’s Olde Town Tavern

As soon as I got my $1 Bud, this yokel sidled up to me and slurred, “Hey, brother, you better get off that Allah, man — it’s all about Jeeeezuss!”

“Oh. Oh no. No, I don’t like Allah. I love Jesus. I swear,” I swore. The man put down his beer and started to stand up; several of his peers did the same. I grabbed my Budweiser and made for the door, full beer in hand.

I made it back to the bus and on to Cincinnati in one piece. I was back on another Greyhound by 2 a.m. the next night, after paying a cabbie $10 to drive me over the bridge into northern Kentucky — where I’d stood in front of a line of cars at a drive-thru liquor and begged the cashier to sell me a fifth of whiskey. I didn’t tour much after that.

Detours and Disasters

Often, musicians on tour encounter pitfalls in the form of natural or man-made disasters — tempestuous weather, accidents, and calamities of every sort, ranging from mild delays to Almost Famous-esque transportation woes.

Geoff Bennington, the guitarist/vocalist of the Brooklyn indie-rock outfit Gillian, describes narrowly missing one such cataclysm while the band was en route to Johnson City, Tennessee. “I think it was only the second full day of our first time on the road together as a band,” he remembers. They’d almost reached their destination, driving south on I-81, when their phones began to buzz and flicker with messages announcing an area-wide tornado watch. “We had no idea what to do,” says Bennington. “We looked out the window and saw that [the sky] was, for the most part, totally clear and open,” so the band kept driving.

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Band Gillian | Photo by Brian Lauer

Minutes later, everyone’s phones lit up with a second emergency message, a tornado warning. The band drove on, watching as other motorists pulled over and switched on their hazard lights. “We’re fine as long as we’re not close to the exit for Route 21,” guitarist Paul Demyanovich said, trying to calm down the rest of the van’s occupants.

“The next sign we see says ‘Route 21, next exit’,” offers Bennington. “This also happens to be the road we have to take to get to Johnson City.” With no tornado in sight and their destination nearby, the band pushed forward. It didn’t take long for them to notice the broken signs and snapped trees littering the highway, so they got off 81 and made for the backroads.

“Suddenly, we could go no further,” Bennington says, “because a huge barn had been knocked over and into the road, along with some trees and power lines.” The van came to a halt as the band stumbled onto a harrowing, almost biblical scene: farm animals, loose, milled about in terror. In the middle of the road, an enormous barn lay in ruin, having dragged down a number of trees and power lines with it.

On the side of the road, people were emerging from storm cellars and damaged homes, their faces contorted in shock and dismay. “Apparently, we missed it by about two minutes,” Bennington says of the tornado. “Suddenly, I felt bad for discouraging that last quick bathroom stop we took that probably saved our lives with its serendipitous timing.”

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After the tornado hit, all that was left of a barn was a pile of lumber in the middle of the road

As long as fans of music are willing to shell out their hard-earned money to see live performances, there’ll be occasions for artists to get into trouble, to get involved in situations they’ll end up recounting to friends, fans, and journalists. These few snapshots into the lives of touring musicians are mere drops in the bucket, pages in an elephantine tome of booze-addled tomfoolery, waylaid van trips, vicious tempests, and snafus involving the locals. Every tour story, every new bit of oral tradition, adds another layer to the lore of the itinerant musician and another episode in the vast history of on-the-road antics we’ve come to expect from bands the world over.

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