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

Hunt’s Pier – Chapter 7 – Secret Admirer

Wildwood, New Jersey – Summer – 1980

As I walked up the ramp to the boardwalk, to make the short walk in the golden late afternoon sun down to Hunt’s Pier. I thought about how different my life was now. I had come so far from the world I lived in back in Fel’s Junior High.

Can you imagine being equal to the Golem in Lord of the Rings? That’s how I felt in Junior High School. It was a terrible place for me to go every day. Everything was against me. My face, my mind, my body, my parents, my sisters, the faculty, the kids, the bullies at school, and everywhere around me. I was a thing I didn’t understand. I only knew a small part of how I worked. Just basic functions. I was a disaster.

All of the ways I could describe myself back then. Greasy hair, pimples all over my face, chest, and back. No athletic ability. Bad grades. braces. glasses. weird clothes. I should have just put a potato sack over my head and spray painted a target on it because that’s what I was. An easy target for scorn and cruelty. I brought nothing to the table. I felt like an absolute failure in the house of my life, and I had no keys to any of the locks that held the doors to everything I wanted. I wanted it so much, but none of it was for people like me.

Ugly. A failure as a person already. Not even 14 and I hate my life and who I am already. Everything is wrong with me.

I remember this pretty girl in my art class I liked. I didn’t know how to talk to her, or what to say. She was making some lam picture and kept hitting the paper with a crayon. I asked her about her work.

“Why do you have so many dots on that?”

“Why do you have so many zits on your face?”

How could a child be that cruel to another one? I didn’t even know her. I was just a slug, a nothing, scuttling along through the hallways of this prison. This act of cruelty had to have somehow been learned. How could a girl that pretty have such ugly things come out of her mouth?

She was beautiful, but ugly on the inside, already. I was ugly on the outside but I would never hurt anyone like that. But that was back in 1977.

It was now 1980.

I graduated from Wildwood High with second honors after spending my senior year in a strange school in a dark cold town that I was dropped off in by my father. Ripped from Frankford High, a school I liked with teachers and kids I could connect with. I was a singer in a rock band in Philly. But now I was a guitarist in a band here in Wildwood. I was left here to squirm and perish, but I thrived. How about that?

Anxiety? Depression? Stranger in a strange land? Wildwood in the winter? Awful. But we all adjusted and made the best of it. I know I made the best of it. I conquered Wildwood.

I was no longer the 14-year-old mess. But I’ll never forget him. He has his place in my past, but I’m no longer chained to him.

Pictured: Vince Kostek

I remember coming onto the pier one night at the beginning of my shift and Vince the manager handed me an envelope.

“Hey. This came for you today, handsome.”

“What’s this?”

“It’s a letter addressed to you, and based on that lipstick kiss on the back I’m assuming it’s from some young lady.”

“Umm… okay, thanks.”

“Are you having your fan mail sent to the pier now, Sport?”

I later read that letter and made the connection to the postcard that was dropped off at my ride the other day.

What an elegant gesture. Honest and beautiful. I was honored and in awe. So sweet. Fragile. Bold. Heartbreakingly beautiful. Feels like something that only happens in a movie. But it was real. It was real and it was happening to me. In my life.

The lame cub of the litter…

Now a lion.

I had finally arrived.

All of the money in the world can’t buy a minute of time, and it certainly can’t buy what Gail did for me that day.

If anyone reading this recognizes Gail or knows her from PA, give her my contact info on here, I’d love to chat with her and thank her for her sweet letter. If we had met back then, I would have been honored to take her out on a proper date!

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

Footnote: In 1983 when I was in Los Angeles, California I was hanging out in my apartment in Mar Vista one night and I called the number that Gail had written in her letter.

She was surprised and happy to hear from me. But she told me she had heard from a “friend” of mine some years ago and he told her that I was a womanizer and a horrible person in an attempt to destroy her image of me. He was basically describing himself to her which is the ultimate irony.

I had shown the letter to this individual back in 1980 when I originally got it. He had been jealous of me since 1977 and didn’t like the idea of me getting adoration from women. He had peaked in 9th grade and although a bright kid, was a social failure and a pathological liar. Gail told me his name and it really showed me what a truly awful person he was. She told me she never believed a word he said, so his little scheme against me was just another one of his many failures.

I don’t speak to this person anymore and want nothing to do with such a toxic person. But what a sad and mean-spirited thing to do to one of your so-called friends just to make yourself feel better about your own pathetic life. A thief and a liar. That’s what he is.

Even though we hung out a lot back in the 70s, I’ve vowed to never write about him in this blog and will only refer to him as “the neighbor” or “the kid next door” because his existence in my history doesn’t warrant giving him any sort of life in this forum or anywhere else.

The best part is, when I leave this world I’ll leave a rich legacy of wonderful memories with so many great friends, lovers, and family. He, on the other hand, leaves only a trail of bad memories strung together by lies and betrayal.

Like Iago in Othello, he poses as a friend but willfully with premeditation, a clear understanding of their actions, the weight of their consequence, commits injury anyway. 

Just a rotten human being that could have achieved greatness due to his incredible intellect, but instead chose the path of sloth and malice.

Although forgiven, I will never dignify his existence by ever writing about him.

Hunt’s Pier – Chapter 6 – Lisa, Janice, a Panda and a Postcard

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1980

I had become prolific at meeting women on the ride and getting dates with them. If it was Tuesday night and I hadn’t met anyone yet, I would think something was wrong.

That’s how crazy and easy it was back then.

One night I met this lovely little blonde from Lebanon PA, named Lisa Hale. I met her on the ride and we decided to hang out after I finished work. I was in a band at the time and loved all things rock and roll. We ended up sitting in the chairs outside her motel room, sipping beers, and smoking cigarettes. She was a sweet girl and I really liked her. The thing I remember most about her was how much she liked music. I was an Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones guy at the time. I told her I liked hard rock and she told me to check out some bands I knew nothing about. She told me to go find some cassettes by bands called Judas Priest, Scorpions, and Def Leppard. I had never heard of any of these bands but on her recommendation, I did go out and buy Judas Priest’s new album, British Steel, and Scorpions, Animal Magnetism. Those two records became my go-to albums for the rest of the summer and began a lifelong love of these bands and all things heavy metal. Thank you, Lisa!

Here’s a photo she gave me. If anybody knows this girl, please tell her I’d love to talk to her and thank her for the rock! Cutie!

One night a pretty blonde caught my eye when she got on the ride. My boss Louie could see I was checking her out and she was smiling at me. He left the seat behind her empty and handed me the flashlight and told me to take a ride through to “check on the ride”. He knew I wanted to chat up this girl. So on the way up the hill to the roof, and through the ride, I got the name of the motel where she was staying and made a beach date with her for the next day.

The next morning I looked up where the hotel was in the local phone book. It was all the way down near Wildwood Crest. Normally I would walk to wherever the women were but that day I had a better idea.

I walked up to New Jersey Avenue at 8th street and hopped on a bus down to the Crest to see her. I never told her that I took the bus and she thought I walked the whole way. She gave me lots of love for making the long trek to see her. (Yea!)

Like the others, she was my weekly girlfriend. I even kept in touch with her and saw her the next summer too!

Here she is. We’re still friends on Facebook.

Janice!

There were girls that would come up and go on the ride all of the time. Some would talk to us and some wouldn’t. We had fans. There were these two girls that would always come on the ride and look at us and giggle. They told us they were older than they were but we knew they were younger. It was really cute. They would come on the ride almost every day. Sometimes during the day and sometimes at night. One of the girl’s names was actually Panda. I am not kidding you. Her last name sounded like the word “bear” but was spelled differently. I had to ask myself, what kind of parents would name their baby daughter Panda? A rare creature? I have no idea!

We called her and her friend out on their ages and they showed us their IDs. The cards stated that the girls were 16 years of age. They still looked questionable though. But Panda was cute as a button.

One night I was going on break and left the pier to go grab a snack on the boardwalk. (Slice at Sam’s Pizza? Probably!) I ran into Panda and she was on her own. We chatted for a bit and she seemed kind of shy. I was 17 by then and I thought it was endearing.

We walked off the boards and I kissed her. She sort of froze in my arms and she blushed and giggled. It just felt a little weird and I told her I had to get back on the ride. I handed her some free passes and went back to work.

Recently, while doing research for this series, I searched for her on Facebook. I found her and checked to see if I could find her date of birth. I did. She was not 16 years old when I gave her a little smooch in 1980.

YIKES!

One night I came into work and one of the guys handed me a postcard. He said some girls left it for me.

That was one of ours because that was a daytime shot of Hunt’s Pier and that was our Whacky Shack!

Of course, I turned it over.

I was surprised and puzzled by this postcard. Who dropped this off, and what did it mean?

And…who’s Gail?

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

Wildwood Daze – Spring of 1980 – The Union Jacks – Part 2

Look at Chaz in his black outfit, with his ’79 Black Ibanez Iceman, rocking out for the kids. Baby steps.

 

We get our first gig at Margaret Mace Elementary and Middle School. We’re going to play for the kids in middle school. 12, 13, 14 year old kids.

Jim went to this school, and knows the faculty. He was good student, but my dear friend is an older man in high school now. He’s in Wildwood High now with me and Mark the bassist.

Incidentally I will add this side note. My Uncle Jack was valedictorian from the first graduating class of Margaret Mace. My father told me he never cracked a book. Just a brilliant charming dude.

Love him forever.

I wish I were his son. Just neglect me and let me play rock and be in the music industry.

I think family genetics get mixed up but great creativity came from pain and oppression so I’m fine with where I came from.

All the best art comes from the oppressed. Under Jack I may have just ended up a privileged asshole so I’m fine with where my soul landed.

I’m terrified to do our first show. But it’s a bunch of young kids in an auditorium. I can’t eat before the show for fear of throwing up. No one in the band knows about my severe anxiety problem.

They’re ready to rock these kids and take this band for a test drive.

I’m terrified, but we’ve rehearsed everything and have our whole set list ready. Brian would write out the set list and tape it to the floor in front of every one of us so we knew what was going to happen. I always felt comfort in that, so thank you Bri.

If I just could get through the first song I’d be fine. We got this. We always opened with Freeway Jam, I think by Jeff Beck. It was just a cool song we could run licks on and warm up to get the audience going.

It’s funny because almost every blues act does the same thing. They come out and jam for a bit and then get into their real shit with singing and hits. We did the same thing as a fledgling band automatically. It just worked for us so we could warm up and get to the songs.

We hit our groove, and Brian is always the constant professional showman we need to carry us forth.

He’s just great. He is clearly the leader of this band and we let him have the reigns. He carries us through our show with tight drumming and great vocals and showmanship.

Brian is clearly the leader of this band, but he can’t do it without me, the creative songwriter, cute, rock star one, Jim, the sizzling lead guitarist, and Mark, his flexible tone deaf puppet, carrying the rhythm.

It’s Brian’s band and it’s always been Brian’s band, but today he’s a little outnumbered. The audience has me and Jim rocking out on our guitars in the front.

Thats who the audience adores.

I’m just trying to hold it together and hit all of the right notes.

However, I’ve brought several guitar picks with me and I am throwing them out to the kids in the audience.

I’ve lived this exact scenario as a kid. If there was some rock band playing and I could be a part of it, I would attach myself to that in a second. I knew that even though I was playing rock at a middle school I had to go full on rock star. Because that’s what I wanted to be.

I bought tons of guitar picks before the show and threw dozens into the crowd knowing the result. The kids went crazy. Brian picked up on this and tossed drumsticks into the audience and they fought over them.

Back in 1979-1980 the song by JJ. Cale that became a hit by Eric Clapton had become a hit. It was all over the radio. It was called Cocaine.

Huge hit. We covered the song because it was wildly popular that year. People loved it.

Should we have played Cocaine to a bunch of 13-year-old kids? Probably not. We didn’t even think about it at the time. It was just a hit. But to play that for a bunch of kids in middle school, we probably should have deleted from the set list.

I can tell you that we did the chorus…. “She don’t like, She don’t like, She don’t like…..

The kids would shout: COCAINE!

We had know idea.

Union Jacks were already a dangerous band. (We were just playing what was popular on the radio. (Should we have reviewed the set list before playing in front of a bunch of kids….yea probably)

We’re nearing the end of our set. (The kids are going wild) The Vice Pincipal walks onstage and tells us we’re done.

Brand new young lead guitarist Jim and former alum literally pushed him off the stage…

“We’re not done yet.”

He launches into “My Generation” by the The Who, which to me is my favorite song Jim ever performed with our band. It just seemed so arrogant. It just seemed to embody my best friend.

We close out the show and I think maybe Jim busted up his Strat for show.

We never fucked around with our equiptment but because I spent $500 of my busboy money on my sweet guitar I always treated like my best girl. But Jim beat his Strat into the bass drum that day. It was a pot CBS Strat so I knew that bolt on neck would hold and could be fixed.

 

We promise to meet up later to review and revel.

By the end of the show I had a headache from not eating/not puking/anxiety/ I walked home and sat at the kitchen table with my mom.

“How was the show?”

“I should probably eat something.”

“PBJ rock star?”

“That would be lovely, mom. I think we did good but we may have played some songs that not everybody liked.”

“Well you have to expect that in rock and roll. You think Elvis cared?”

I knew my mom cried when Elvis died, but in that moment I knew my mom, even though she wouldn’t go to my shows, was proud of me.

She got it.

She just was so afraid of watching me fail.

I didn’t care. I was just happy I didn’t puke on stage because of my anxiety.

I did it. I made it.

Knock at the door. Mark and Brain are there.

One Bufferin and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich later…

“Hey guys. Thanks for bring my gear home.

Mark: “I feel like a fuckin roadie.”

Chaz: Welcome to real rock and roll. We just played a real gig and rocked the fuck out. I know it was to a bunch of kids, but we’ve got something here an got paid! ”

Mark: “Some kids recorded the whole concert on tape recorders.”

Chaz: ” Really? We have to hear them!”

Brian: “Yea. We have more gigs coming up.”

Chaz: “Cool man. We’re going to the top!”

Brian: “Oh, these are for you. Looks like you’re pretty popular.”

He hands me a stack of slips of paper with girls names and phone numbers on them.

IT’S STARTING….

I have finally arrived.

I read them all and can’t believe that after all of this time of being a loser this is happening now.

A bunch of 11, 12 and 13 year old girls want to meet me.

I throw them all in the wastebasket in my bedroom.

Because all of these lovelies are minors. Sadly this is something that will haunt me my entire life.

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Van Halen Had Sex Tents

Hagar exerted himself so much during his nightly trips that he temporarily lost the ability to climax.

Before they became a quartet of endless punchlines, Van Halen used to be one of the coolest bands in the world, and they demonstrated their status by having sex with every female who wandered within one mile of their powerful aura. Their career is a filthy memorial to how being in a band is a more powerful aphrodisiac than things like “not looking completely ridiculous,” a criteria David Lee Roth specifically targeted for destruction.

Roth infamously claims that he had his penis (nicknamed “Little Elvis”) insured and would hold a nightly contest wherein he would reward his roadies with a cash prize if they were able to convince girls he had spotted in the crowd during the show to come backstage for a personal discussion with Little Elvis. It is unclear whether his insurance policy required each girl to sign a waiver beforehand.

Roth’s eventual replacement, Sammy Hagar, was a little more “Roman Emperor” in his groupie interactions. One tour saw the band build a tent directly beneath the stage specifically for Sammy Hagar’s erection. During the mid-show 20-minute guitar solos Eddie Van Halen would launch into each night, Hagar would disappear to the tent and discover a group of naked fans waiting to swallow his penis, which we assume was as pinched as his face.

But owning your own sex tent apparently has powerful side effects. Hagar exerted himself so much during his nightly trips that he temporarily lost the ability to climax. That’s right — Sammy Hagar had so much sex that he ran out of sperm. And with that mental picture, I end the post.

 

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Tales of Rock – David Crosby Rams Car into a Wall While High and Armed

“Why do I keep fuckin’ up?”

A lot of musicians who came of age during the ’60s exited the decade with serious drug problems, but few were still running wild decades later. David Crosby of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and (sometimes) Young, has proven a noteworthy exception here. In 1982 he went to prison for nine months after being charged with possession of cocaine and heroin. In 1985, while on probation for DUI, he was arrested for driving into a fence with a gun and cocaine in his car. Asked by a reporter why he was armed, he said it was his response to the murder of John Lennon by a crazed fan.

In Crosby’s episode of VH1’s Behind The Music, one of his band mates in Crosby, Stills and Nash complained that he once interrupted a jam session to stop his crack pipe from falling off his amp and breaking. As recently as 2004, Crosby was arrested after leaving his luggage, which apparently contained an ounce of pot and a gun, in a hotel room. The bag was searched and when Crosby returned for it he was arrested. To quote his occasional collaborator Neil Young, Crosby might want to ask himself, “Why do I keep fuckin’ up?”

You really should slow down in middle age. Especially when you’ve already had your liver replaced.

 

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