Wildwood Daze – 1980 – Joette and Lola

16 year old Joette Carty and yours truly in 1980.

God… I never realized how good looking I was back then.

I’m the rhythm guitarist for the the Union Jacks. I’m in relationship with a 14-year-old girl and then I meet Joette.

Anne lives in Newark and I met her at the and of the summer when things were slim.I  was desolate. She was hot, young, and available.

you thought she was 16.

I always had a thing for long-legged Joette. The flautist that liked Niel Diamond and Barry Manilow. You knew that those guys were brilliant but my life was Aerosmith.

It’s the dead of winter. I’m in this band, but trapped in a high school where I know like one guy. And he’s in my band! I see this one girl wo’s in the school band, named Joette. She’s tall, pretty and blonde.

I loved that back then. Now I like more ethnic looking women, but that’s probably because I live in  city. There is so many different kind of beauty here in Philly.

The song says: “If you can’t be with the one you love… Love the one you’re with.”

My little girlfriend, Lola was in Newark, NJ. Joette was here. Live and present.

I liked tall, blonde long-legged women back then. I loved ex ex ex girlfrind Michelle and she had lovely legs when I knew her.

But Lola wan’t around and I’m stuck in this desolate shithole of a town and I start crushing on Joette.

Look at the photo. I was a good-looking guitarist in a local band and she was a musician too. We had different tastes in music but come on… You know it’s going down in Wildwood.

So we hook up.  She seems nice. Her mom seems nuts. Her parents are divorced. My drummer Brian tells me he went to high school with her crazy brother Joe.

Her mom is on a bureau drawer amount of pills, and Brian tells me her brother Joe once took his belt off and beat a teacher in class once before being kicked out of school.

Yea… she’s hot. This’ll be good.

It actually was. Her mom kept her little helpers in check and liked me. Her crazy brother actually liked me too because he said I was the first nice guy that was good to his sister.

That was a nervous moment.

Joette and I were and item through the cold desolate winter that year and i enjoyed my time with her. I still saw Lola when she came down but Joette was my constant local main squeeze.

I just loved her because she had long legs and she was built like a woman. Tall and lovely.

Great flute player.

Totally different from what I did at the time.

 

Spring rolled around and I was pretty wrapped up in Joette. I rmember my mom telling me that Lola was on the phone and wanted to talk to me.

The summer was about to break and that is an exciting time. You as a native are going to crawl out of the horrible darkness of the winter and stand in the sun again on a warm sunny beach. Surrounded by friends and new talent.

Living in Wildwood in the winter is like being lost at sea at night for months. The cold lonely nights. The isolation. The depression. The beauty of the place that feels like a windy prison.

It’s awful. I wouldn’t wish it on any child. resort towns need to be a summer fun spot to be enjoyed but the rest of the year is terrible for its youth.

It’s like any podunk shit town in america.

I’m with Joette now… Lola is on the phone. She says how much she’s looking forward to coming down this summer and us being together and being in a relationship.

“I love you.”

“Uhhh….” ( I can’t do it. I’ve been with Joette all winter thorough the darkness that is this island my sisters and I have been dropped off on.)

“Chaz… do you love me?”

“Ahh…”

So back then at 18 I was pretty much romantically bankrupt. I didn’t know how to compartmentalize like I can now. I was and absolute neophyte when it came to matters of the heart. i was a dumb teen that wanted what he wanted when he wanted it and never thought of the repercussions of my actions.

It’s sad that I couldn’t see that. I simply wanted the thing in front of me now and could no longer think of the little girl who fell in love with me at the end of last summer.

But living in Wildwood and being in a band changes a boy. There’s a certain curse you hold being in that godforsaken town in the winter. If you’ve been following this series, there is something that happens to the youth in this town and you affix to it because you have no other choices.

It’s unhealthy to raise children from the city on an isolated island where nothing is happening.

You did it for yourself dad.  Plus you were already running your program with your hot secretary pool down here sir.

It was a natural progression of you continuing your agenda of inner unhappiness about it affected a few people along the way dude.

It made me cold and calculating in my Romantic life, dad. Passionate like you, but I had the same romantic bankruptcy that you had.

I remember I once asked you… “What if you got a girl pregnant and she had a kid that was yours. What would you do?”

“Well I don’t know that kid and I didn’t raise him so… nothing.”

Okay.

So I’m on the landline in the dining room with my little girlfriend on the phone asking me if I still love her and how much she wants to be with me and I’m ambiguities.

That’s cold.

I remember doing that to Lola.

That was shitty.

I’m not a good person in this moment.

I have my band which is rocking. I have established my place here as someone. I have a hot blonde girlfriend. The summer is approaching. I know what the summer looks like here.

Non stop fun and gorgeous teenage girls I want to spend time with. I will meet them and love them as they arrive in droves. Literally delivered to me after this horrible winter of discontent.

I mis my life and friends in Philly. I have been banished from all that i know, but the fun is returning.

Any minute now.

It’s June. I’m going to graduate high school.

All I want to do is have fun and play guitar in a band.

I want to be Joe Perry.

Lola is crying on the phone. I can’t commit to this summer being her boyfriend.

I felt nothing, selfish juvenile cunt that I was back then.  (look at the photo)

We hung up and I knew it was over. But i didn’t care. i was glad i didn’t have to deal with her anymore.

I just wanted to work at Hunt’s Pier and play in my band and go to clubs and have fun.

I was just a typical asshole guy I suppose. I hurt a young girl’s heart and didn’t feel a thing, too self-absorbed in my own success.

But I will tell you… when you pull shit like this no matter what your age, you leave a hole. You will trip over that hole later in life and have to somehow fill it in and fix that hole.

Because although you put a whole in a person, you left a hole in yourself.

You will have to fix that son.

 

Lola was heartbroken and found solace in my lead guitarist Jim. Classic. I can’t have Chaz, so I’ll be with his best friend. I never gave a shit after that, because I was emotionally bankrupt. I’m sure Jim never enjoyed her at the level i did.

Oh, and Joette. With in a week after dumping Lola and the summer exploding in full swing… I dumped Joette too.

The shark needs to swim. Great White needs to hunt. It’s the summer of 1980 and the island is on fire.

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Mark Piro playing a blonde Fender Precision Bass

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

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

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

I am amazed.

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

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

Mark                                                                                                       Me                     Brian 

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

Mark                                                                             Me with a bad haircut

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

Brian Smith

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

“Wow sorry man. How’d that happen?”

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

I turn away from Jesse to Brian.

“What happened?”

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

“Okay….”

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

Jesse said nothing.

 

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

“Learn these songs.”

“Okay.”

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

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

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

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

     Mark                                                                                                                       Me

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

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

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

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

So for Christmas that year he got me this:

 

I nearly came in my pants.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Marshall is that powerful.

It changed my life.

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

Thank you dad! I love you!

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

Jesse Dean playing a brown Gibson SG

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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Wildwood Daze – Autumn of 1979 – Garage Band in a Shed – Part One

I go back over these memories and I want to write about these moments in my life. But I have found that after writing this blog of over a year and a half I have to dig deep. That does something to you.

Actually two things.

You get the benefit of reliving your youth and the joy of what you once did in a nostalgic way. The other side is what you were going through at the time to make all of that happen. That can be painful, but also joyful. Writing it all down and expressing it does have a cleansing effect. So many people talk about doing it but never make the time.

Because writing is a lonely experience. You have to do it alone. People don’t like that. They like being busy and surrounded by other people to validate their existence.

I no longer need that. I’m not living to acquire possessions or impress anybody. Once you can reach that state, it is somewhat blissful. I like to be alone. But I get my energy from people. I adore the company of delightful women and cool guys. But I have always enjoyed being alone. My father once said, “A man who can sit in a room alone is really at peace.” I’m sure that’s just some shit he read in a book because the man has never had an original thought in his life, but thank you for passing that along Pop. You’re right. Or… They were right.

But that’s how I really feel. It’s really all about the effort. Bands like the B-52’s don’t make it on talent. They made it on originality, fearlessness and going for it. That’s what we all need to do.

It’s so easy to sink into a job under a pile of college debt nowadays. So sad.

Go live your life, people!

I’m writing this story because it needs to be told. It will be on the internet when I’m long dead. But it happened to me, and if it inspires one person then it’s been worth it.

As I write I listen to an internet radio station. I love Pandora, but Tune In Radio Classic Rock is so much better! Check it out! They really got it together! Promise.

 

Jim and I meet up. He’s a nice guy. He’s deep and sensitive. Not like his goofy band mates in the Tom Danning band. Interesting side note here, Tom Danning’s dad was in a band called Dickie Do and the Don’ts and that name in itself makes me want to put a pistol in my mouth, but I digress. Who cares. They suck. Jim wants to rock. I want that too.

I invite him over to jam in our shed. Yea. The basement of the Philly house died with my first band Renegade. My first band and love had been cut from me by my father because he decided to uproot us from Lawndale and toss us all into the shore house.  April and Gabrielle have been dropped off at Margaret Mace, the local public grade school and I’ve been tossed into Wildwood fucking High for my Senior Year.

It’s a nightmare, but my previous chapter has clearly illustrated my experience. So we’ll move on.

Jim and I are in a shed. Not a garage. A shed. It’s getting chilly on the cape and we have a space heater out there to generate some warmth. We are surrounded with bicycles, lawnmowers, brooms, rakes, shovels and other garden equipment. It sucks ass.

But Jim and I jam together. He’s a good guitar player. Taken lessons. Can play lead. I like him. We jam out some Creem and Eric Clapton and some Beatles. It’s rough but I’m just happy to be playing with somebody.

Something to do.

Some sort of direction.

Something.

Jim is mature for his age. I don’t know exactly where he is in the birthing order in his family. But I learn that he is from an Italian Catholic family of a dozen children.

I’m blown away by this number. What kind of reckless fucking do you have to have to birth that many kids? Apparently his mother is pregnant again with their 13th child.

I’m shocked and amazed at this story but I can only think of his mother being in gestation for nine years straight most of her adult life. I also think that at this point his dad banging her is like throwing a hotdog down a hallway. (Sorry Jim. I love you and it’s funny!)

We’re jamming out and realize we should probably put a band together. He likes the idea that I write original songs and we work on them too. All I have at this point is “Get Lost” the punk song about that little dick teaser from Philly, Therese, about my obviously love, and a new one about Farrah Fawcett called “Bombshell.”

I like Jim. I start to like him like a best friend. He’s sensitive and deep. I’ve always gravitated to young people. I feel safe with them. Jim was a good guy. He was my only friend in Wildwood. He understood the desolation of the town in the winter. We had each other. Even though he came from a huge family I know Jim felt some of the same isolation I felt from my family and the world and especially high school.

I found a friend!

School was okay. It was easy. I was making second honors by the midterm. I used to joke that we were studying high-speed skipping and underwater basket weaving at Wildwood High.  When anyone outside of the shore found out I was going there they thought it was a joke. Because it was!

One day at lunch time I went outside and smoked a cigarette. I was stopped by a member of faculty and I told them I was new and didn’t know the rules. He simply told me to go across the street and do it. I complied.

We needed a drummer and a bass player if we wanted to get a band going. The town was so small how would we find anyone?

Well, we were going to find out…

 

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Wildwood Daze – Winter of 1979 – Time With My Only Friend

“A selfish unforgiving decision had been made against my life.”

Jim and I remained friends. I would walk up to his house at 19th and Central Aves. every morning and we would walk to school together. We were close. I always felt a deep connection with Jim.

There was nothing open in Wildwood in 1979 after the season ended. I have no idea what the kids did here when not in school. I did notice a high level of drinking, drug use and teen pregnancy. So it was basically like living in an affluent rural area. An odd dichotomy.

School was going well for both of us. Me the fresh transplant from Philly, and him out of middle school and now in high school. Jim never felt younger to me. He always felt like a mature thoughtful, brooding equal.

We would just walk the streets at night of this resting resort town that felt like a ghost town to me for the first time. I had only known Wildwood as a full on circus every summer. This was its dark underbelly. A lonely empty place. We both did the best we could on this deserted island.

In the windy nights on the Cape we really got to know each other. We’d frequent the local haunts. There was a pizza place at 15th and New Jersey Aves. that was open all year round. We’d eat slices and drink sodas there. We’d go to the bowling alley. There was place called the Sundance around 26th and New Jersey Aves. Kids would gather there and eat and sip sodas. At least it was warm. Something to do.

We never bowled there, we’d just sit and talk and look at girls.  Sometimes we’d end up at the 7 Eleven downstairs and talk to some weird clerk there we named Scoodly because that was entertaining to a couple of teenage boys. He was a bit eccentric and we got a kick out of him. But it always felt good to get a frozen soft pretzel from the freezer and pop it into the microwave. A sweet reminder of my lost city of Philadelphia.

My greatest memories of hanging with Jim in the dead of winter back then in this godforsaken wasteland was at that very bowling alley. We’d sneak into the little lounge they had there. There was always a live band playing in there and it was fun to watch older guys and girls play. We were just so fascinated by live music and bands that were working and do it.

We’d slip in and check out the latest band playing top 40. The music was not what we were into but it at least felt like something we were interested in. Sometimes we’d last longer than other times. I was 17. Jim was 15. But he looked older. The drinking age in Jersey back then was 18. Unbelievable by today’s standards. But I looked so young with my baby face but Jim could pull it off. We’d get a few beers and watch the set and do our best to be cool and hang in, but there was always that point after about two beers we’d be suspect.

I’d get tossed first and then they’d ask Jim for ID and he couldn’t provide either so out we’d go.

But we’d always go back because we wanted to see live music, and there was NOTHING in Wildwood to do in the winter back then. It was a horrible place to live as a teenager. A selfish unforgiving decision had been made against my life.

One night we met this guitar player in one of the lounge acts that was playing in that place. He was older but so nice to us. We told him how we were musicians and picked his brain about music. It just felt good to talk to older guys that were doing what we wanted to do. But not exactly.

“Jim, I would rather kill myself than play top 40 in a fucking bowling alley for a living. I want to be a band that plays in big bars and then tours and them makes records.”

“Yea.”

“I just would never want to have to play all of that shit for a living.”

“You need to get a real guitar.”

“What? My shit’s real.”

“It’s a Sears Silvertone kid’s electric guitar, Chaz.”

“Yea but I learned on that. I like it. It has good action.”

“It’s a fucking toy guitar. If you really want to play rock, and you’re serious about this you should get a proper instrument.”

“Alright well. I guess. I could start to look at instruments.”

“I play a Strat. It’s a really good versatile instrument.”

“Yea… your Fender’s awesome. Brown and functional. I think I’d like something a little flashier.”

“Well that’s up to you. It’s your money, but your guitar is shit.”

Yea, I guess you’re right.”

Suddenly we are approached by the bar manager.

“You guys got some ID?”

Jim and I do a simultaneous bottoms up with our beers and run out of the bar laughing.

I’m happy I have a friend and at least I have the bonus of him being a sensitive and funny musician like myself. Musician. Who and I kidding? I’ve only been playing guitar of six months.

But I’m learning fast.

Maybe I need to look at getting a real guitar.

So I can get this dream going….

 

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

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Wildwood Daze – Summer of 1979 – Starting Over

I was working as a busboy at the Dolphin Restaurant for the second summer in a row. One season as a Pool boy at the El Morro Motel was enough. Greek owned restaurant. Solid food. Nice hard-working people. It was what it was. I was in love with one of the waitresses named Therese. (Pronounced: Terez so it’s even hotter.) She had killer legs and was one year older than me. She had a boyfriend that was in college so basically to me she was dating a grown man. I could never compete with John. Therese was always so nice to me. I would joke around with her sometimes. She was totally cool with my dark sense of humor because she knew I was a good guy that was in love with her. I’d make cracks like:

“Wow, sorry to hear about John in that boating accident.”

“What? He wasn’t in a boating accident!”

“Oh, right… that’s next week.”

—————————————————————————

Spending all summer in Wildwood was every kid’s dream. I was 16 going on 17 just like that Liza Von Trapp girl.

Two blocks from my house was an arcade called Botto’s. We fucking lived in there. The owner was a guy named Joe Botto, a retired Philly cop. He was a cool dude considering 90% of his customers were a bunch of kids. He liked us because we were nice respectful boys for the most part. It was a pretty simple setup. Walls lined with a juke box that played 45’s, (Google it youngsters) Pinball machines, and video games. (Galaxion, Pac Man, Space Invaders, etc.) In the middle of the room was a pool table. I spent many a happy hour in that wonderful place. Obviously no cell phones back then but there was a payphone outside. If I wasn’t home, at the beach, working, or up the boardwalk, the only other place you could find me was at Botto’s. I’d be hitting free games on a pinball machine called Flash. That was my favorite machine of all time.

Sometimes there’s be some little guys in there. Eleven and twelve-year olds. We were like their idols. But I knew guys that were twenty and twenty-one and they were my idols. It’s just a pecking order in young men. We gave the little guys nick names, Chicken Man, Snappy Organs, and Slim Gonads. Chicken Man is a name I came up with. It started one day on the beach. I’d be hanging at the beach with my friend Tony, and this little skinny blonde kid would run up from the ocean and tackle him. I have no idea in regard to the origin of this ritual.

Tony would jump up, grab him and tackle him in the sand. Toss him around and roll him in the sand. He called it, “Shake and Bake.” I don’t know if they still have Shake and Bake but back then there was a cooking product named that. You buy a bag of this premixed seasoning, throw some chicken parts in the bag, shake it and then bake the chicken in the oven sans bag. Very popular.

So when this kid would do this to Tony on a weekly basis, it became a thing. Soaking wet he would jump on Tony, I’d yell Chicken Man is here! Tony would tackle him back telling it was time for “Shake and Bake.” The kid would so covered in sand he looked like a skinny little chicken right out of the bag covered in seasoning. He was a nice kid and it was all good fun. Just boys doing horseplay. I don’t remember the kid’s real name, and apparently that nickname stuck with him his whole life. (In and endearing way) Because to this day I hear my family still refer to that guy as Chicken Man.

The other kid in this little crew was Snappy Organs. I don’t remember what his real name was either. But I do remember him being a bit hyper and known to be short-tempered at times. So he’s be snapping out about some nonsense so I just started calling him Snappy Organs. I have no idea where that came from, the organs part. Maybe something I saw on Monty Python.

The third kid, Slim Gonads. I think his name was Frankie Breslin for some reason. He didn’t have a nickname like his other two buddies and asked if I’d give him one. I just looked at him and said: Slim Gonads. Just like that. No idea. He was skinny and gonads is a funny word. He was like: “Cool! GO-Nads!” Like it was some sort of sporting cheer or a war cry. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that his nickname literally translated to: “Slender testicles.”

While we’re on the subject of kids, there was another kid that we used to see around. He was super pale so he looked way out-of-place in a summer resort town. He always wore a hat like his mom didn’t want her baby to burn. They must have also had money because he was the only kid that rode around on a Moped.

He cruises by one day, and my friend Tony is like, “There goes Don on his Moped. Look at those big lips. Hey! Steven Tyler! Ha ha ha! Slurp! (Oh, yea, that was Tony’s laugh: Ha ha ha ha…then he would slurp. It was fuckin’ weird)

Don just looks at him and keeps on rolling by.

“I wish I had a Moped.”

“No you don’t Tony. Mopeds are gay.” (Everything was gay back then)

“Why?”

“You either ride a motorcycle or drive a car. There’s no in between. Having a Moped is like dating a fat chick. Sure they’re both a lot of fun when you’re on them, but you don’t want you friends seeing you on them.”

“Point taken.”

————————————————————————

One day before work I’m blazing through a game of Flash at Botto’s. Snappy Organs comes in and stands next to the machine to watch me play.

“Didn’t you say you played guitar?”

“I did.”

“Do you want to start a band?”

“With you?”

“No. I know some guy from the neighborhood and he plays guitar too. I told him about you. He’s in some other band right now and they kind of suck. I think he wants to do something else.”

“Well you tell him to come here and meet me and we can chat.”

“Cool! I will.”

“Hey Snap. I racked up a few free games on here. I gotta go to work. They’re yours.”

“Really? Thanks!”

I head off to work thinking about that last transaction. I know Snappy will come through and set it up. These kids are super loyal to us. Let’s see who this guy is and what he’s all about. Who knows? Could be the next phase of my musical journey.

I walk into the restaurant through the back door. One of the cooks is standing out there smoking a fat joint. He offers but I pass. I wasn’t a huge fan of weed back then. That, and I have to work! I can’t be high busing tables! I’ll be giggling and thinking everyone’s staring at me!

I put on my little apron. I walk through the kitchen and out the swinging doors. It’s early. Before the dinner rush. The people plow in here. Eat and then head to the boardwalk. It all happens from 6 to 8pm and then it’s over.

Oh, there’s Therese. She smiles. God, I love her.

I know… I’ll write a song about her!

 

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

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Emily – Super Baby Sister

Emily is a sweet young girl that works at one of my favorite bars. She is 22 but looks like she’s 15. She does a little bit of everything there. Bar back, hostess and server. She is really a nice little person and I always make a fuss over her. I started calling her “super baby sister” because she’s so cute.

I met with her recently at McGlinchey’s for a drink because I told her about this blog and she says she wanted a chapter. Normally I don’t tell the people about the blog because I am going to be writing about them. But Emily wants the attention. So she’s in.

I get to the bar and order my usual. Whatever the house white wine is with a side of ice. The beauty of this filthy bar is a few things. That glass of wine costs $2.60. You can smoke in this bar. The jukebox is good, and the staff is surly. The bathrooms are so gross. No doors on the stalls, so if you have to go number two you have to go next door to Jose Pistola’s, climb the steps to the third floor to take a dump in a private clean restroom. Mcglinchey’s bathrooms are so covered in graffiti I don’t even know what color the walls were ever painted. I describe going to the restroom at McGlinchey’s as if you are playing the game “Operation.” What’s the one rule in Operation? “Don’t touch the sides.” But I love that bar and have had some great memories there. Especially with my pal Johnny R.

Emily arrives and climbs up on the stool beside me. She is immediately carded. She pulls out her passport. I think this is odd, but maybe she doesn’t drive. It’s a city. Some people just don’t. She looks adorable. I bought her a pack of Marlboro 27’s  and hand her the pack. She’s very grateful because that’s her brand and cigs are expensive now.  I think part of me invited her out because I love young women. I purposely invited her out to Mcglinchey’s because I like the idea of a middle-aged man sitting in a shitty dive bar drinking and smoking with a girl who appears to be a teenager. Think what you like but that’s what I wanted to do. I’m not going to do anything to her, but I’d like to. And I’ll do it again. But nothing will happen. (Don’t worry, loyal readers, I have integrity, I’m Lorelei’s Dad.

Emily is from a small town in Pennsylvania. She is attending college here in Philly, and is in a co-op program there. She currently works at an event planning company part-time. She wants to do that for a living when she graduates. She wants to plan large-scale musical events and concerts.

She told me that she got into a relationship with a guy within a few months of entering college. They were together for a few years, but she said after a while he went schizo. That seems odd how a person would suddenly go schizo but I suppose anything is possible. Mental illness takes many forms. I know a half a dozen women that have heads full of bad wiring.

But they broke up and she was really sad. She says she suffers from anxiety and depression. I tell her I’ve suffered with both of those things my whole life. The artist’s spirit, my father used to say. I console her and tell her ways of working through your fear and sadness without drugs and alcohol. It’s a tough road to hew.

She orders a Jack and Coke and tells me that her co-op job won’t renew in the next semester so she will be working more at the bar where I see her. I tell her I have some good contacts at Live Nation, The Electric Factory, and Steezpromo. She says she’ll send me her resume and maybe I can help her get a gig at one of those places. I got my daughter Lorelei her last two jobs so I can probably help Emily too.

Emily says depression and alcoholism runs in her family. That’s pretty common. But recently she was busted for DUI. She lost her license for 90 days and had to pay a fine. She also had to take some AA related classes. She says she learned her lesson and she will never do it again. I hope she sticks to that. I tell her a few of my drunk driving stories to let her know we’ve all done it but you really should never get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking. There are so many other options especially now in this city. UBER, Lyft, Septa, and taxis.

She says she likes to drink and hopes it doesn’t become a problem. I tell her it’s easier said than done. Alcohol is a wicked mistress. She says she hasn’t been having much luck with men since the break up with her ex. I ask her what’s she’s been up to lately. She says she hangs out with guys and they are usually drinking and she hooks up with them. She wants sex too, but she says then that’s all they want her for.

“They just treat me like a I’m a piece of meat.”

I think that’s terrible. I tell her she’s going about it all wrong. If a boy really likes you he will court you. He will take you out on proper dates. He will do thoughtful things for you. He will take you to the movies and dinner and enjoy doing things with you. If romance develops, then you will have mutual feelings for each other. At some point if you are both ready, you both agree that you want to celebrate your mutual desire for each other and celebrate that with the exchange of sexual pleasure.

I mean that’s life right? We all want that.

I know that sounds textbook, but it’s a fact. Sure, we’ve all hooked up with people in our lives. I was in three bands. I’ve had tons of tail handed over to me and I’ve relieved a few ladies of the burden of their virginity. But I was always  gentleman.

I tell Emily that she is a lovely, smart young woman who has her whole life ahead of her. Sure she gets horny, but I told her she has great value and deserves to be treasured. She has to resist her urges even if she really likes a guy and hold back.

I tell her my Tao of Steve mantra: “You always want that which retreats from you.”

Be inaccessible. Be a little allusive. It’ll make him want you more. Be unavailable. Don’t get right back to him when he texts you. Seem busy with your life. Don’t make him the center of your universe. You’re busy. You are the Sun. Until he proves his worth, he is merely a planet to you.

I tell her to stick with this advice and she’ll make better decisions. She agrees and tells me she has a date with a guy, that she met through a co-worker at the bar. I tell her that’s a good start and make sure he locks down a date and time and takes you somewhere nice to get to know you better.

Hopefully I helped her and I look forward to hearing more about how her life is going when next I see my Super Baby Sister.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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Rebecca – Chapter 4 – Cypress and the Oak

Another tale of one man’s journey through the dating scene in Philadelphia, searching for true love.

It had been a while since I had heard from Rebecca. She certainly made an amazing impression upon me on our first date. It didn’t make sense that she “ghosted” me after our very first meeting. It felt like it had been a couple of months, and all I heard was the deafening sound of crickets. I did text her twice in that time to meet up for a drink and just never heard back. This has happened before. I know this other little hottie that is always saying she wants to meet me for drink, but can never pull it together.

But then out of the blue she texted me. “Sooo sorry for being off the grid. Can we meet up for a drink soon?” I told her I could do Monday or Wednesday. She picked Monday. I liked that because it was sooner. I asked her if she had any preference. She said for me to pick the place. I wanted somewhere that was nice, but not some place where we’d stick out like a sore thumb. I had a few days to figure it out. I have to come up with a place where they knew me, but I’d have some privacy. I decide to meet her at 1 Tippling Place at 6:30 the next Monday. “Great! I always wanted to check that place out!” was her reply.

1 Tippling Place is a really cool, living room style cocktail bar. It’s located at 20th and Chestnut streets. The outside is really nondescript. Just a glass and steel door, next to a large window. If you blinked or sneezed while walking by you’d miss it. But inside there is all kinds of neat comfy furniture and coffee tables. The artwork is eclectic and the room as a whole is nicely appointed with interesting artifacts. The cocktails are first-rate. They really don’t serve any food. I mean they have some little hors d’oeuvre, but that’s about it. You go there for the quality drinks and the atmosphere. I also enjoy the snarky attitude of the lead bartender. When you first meet him you think he might be gay. Then in walks his smoking hot girlfriend. It’s one of my favorite bars in the city because it’s an original that has real character.

I arrive early. I always like to get to a place early to scope out the scene and get the lay of the land. I chat with the owner. She’s awesome. Normally she’s in and out during the day, and then leaves around 7pm. We’re pretty tight. I’ve even walked her home on occasion. I normally don’t order off the cocktail menu. I just tell the bartender that I want something dark and spirit forward. They make it and I drink it. It’s always good. I will say that the place is a little expensive. Most of the drinks cost between $12 and $14.

I look at my watch. 6:20. Hope she isn’t late.

Hope she shows up.

Five minutes later the door opens. It was like one of those moments in those 80’s teen comedies, when everything moves in slow motion and they play some cool song. Rebecca enters the bar. I take a deep breath. Her dark hair is up, which always looks so sexy on the right woman. Her ripe lips an exquisite pout. She is wearing a burgundy cocktail dress. It comes to mid-thigh. She is wearing black sheer stockings and elegant black high heels. She looks amazing. I’m blinking my eyes trying to focus on this vision.

I immediately stand to greet her. She hugs me, and I am more intoxicated by her beauty and lovely fragrance than any cocktail that could be crafted at this bar. “Rebecca,” is all I could say. “Shall we get a table?” she replies. I nod, and guide her to a quiet table in the corner so we can chat. “You look lovely. I feel under dressed ” I say. “Well I haven’t seen you in a while and I like to dress up.” she responds.

We order a round of drinks. I have my usual dark power, and she goes with something equally strong. Interesting. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe she likes a heady drink or maybe she needs a bit of courage. We chat about what we’ve been up to and she’s telling me about work, and some of the challenges she obviously faces in the medical industry. Then she says, “I suppose you’re wondering why you haven’t heard back from me in a while, and I am sorry about that.” I tell her it’s okay and I’m just happy that she is here tonight.

“Remember how I told you that I went out with that man who was older than me and I didn’t feel any chemistry after four dates?” “Didn’t that guy get married? He didn’t try to…?” “No…no. Nothing like that. I just wanted to preface what I was about to tell you, that it doesn’t feel that way with you.” she says. Now I’m getting a little worried and a little confused. “Do you mean you do feel chemistry with me or you don’t?” I ask, feeling a slight searing heat in my heart. This could go be a short date.  She smiles and takes my hand. “I do like you. It feels different just being around you. You’re not like anybody else I know.” I visually sigh in relief and she reads my expression. I need to be cool. “Don’t worry, I’ve thought a lot about where my life is and it sometimes can be confusing.” I reassure her that whatever she is concerned about I understand, and will listen.

Women don’t want men to solve their problems. Men are all about solutions. They like to fix things. Women are more about their feelings. That’s why men define themselves on what they do, and women define themselves on who they know. The way to a woman’s heart is really quite simple. Don’t tell her what she should do, or how she should do. Just listen. I’m just happy at that moment that I am the one who is present to listen to whatever it is she needs to get off her chest.  I just hope she can’t hear my heart beating.

Rebecca takes a sip from her drink, not breaking her gaze with me. Looking into me with those brilliant emeralds. “Two years ago I met this guy on Tinder named Derrick. He was around my age. As you know guys my age basically suck for the most part. They don’t know what they want or who they are yet. But he ‘Super Liked’ me on Tinder. And… I did the same on his profile so I thought it was kismet. I know now I only did that because he was really cute and not much else. Isn’t that why most people swipe right for the most part anyway?”

“I suppose. But I’d like to think that some of us are more thoughtful when it comes to matters of the heart.” I reply. (Bold faced lie.) She seemed smart in her profile, but I know I swiped right because she was smoking hot.

“I know right?” she exclaims. “Thank you! But I guess I was dumb and just being superficial. So we exchanged numbers. It all happened so fast. We met up, and it was fun. He seemed kind of full of himself and his band. But he was good really good-looking. He invited me to come out and see his band play and we’d hang out after their set. So I get dressed up and go to the bar where their playing. Derrick was the lead singer. I was kind of hoping he’d take me on a proper date, but I thought that would happen after we got to know each other. I suppose it’s not a bad way to meet someone for the first time. You’re in a bar surrounded with people so it’s not like you’re meeting a stranger in some isolated place. I also prepared myself for the fact that he was the singer in the band and usually they are surrounded by willing girls. I mean, you told me you used to play guitar in a band in L.A. Weren’t you always around a bunch of girls?”

“Sure. There were a lot of girls and guys at our shows. We played hard rock, so our audience skewed more male than female. But I had a steady girlfriend at the time. I was committed to my relationship with her.” (Bold faced lie)

“Well you’re one of the rare ones.” (I wonder if she can see the devil horns sticking out of my head?) Anyway, so I’m at the their show. I didn’t want to go to a bar alone, so I took my roommate Amber with me. We had an agreement that if things went well with Derrick she’d either hook up with someone there or UBER it home. I mean it wasn’t a real date so I don’t think there was anything wrong with bringing my friend with me as backup.”

“What kind of music did they play?” I ask, hoping to get insight about the boy through his musical tastes.

“It wasn’t emo, but it sort of sounded like that. I guess it was more post hardcore.”

This guy already sounds like a douche, I thought. She takes another sip and this time her eyes are down. I can see this is hard for her. “Okay. Please go on. I’m listening.”

“So they end their set and we’re hanging out. Me, my friend Amber, Derrick, and his lead guitarist, Simon. We’re drinking and laughing and having a good time. We’re at this table all the way off to the back. I’m sitting next to Derrick and Amber is across from me with Simon in a booth. Amber likes to party. Simon is ordering shots and beers and we’re all getting pretty buzzed. I feel like I’m really liking Derrick. He’s going about how important the music is and all of that stuff, but I don’t care I just think he’s hot. Next thing I know Amber is all over Simon. I look at Derrick and he’s on me. We’re just making out like crazy. Normally I’m not like that but I think it was the drinking that made it easy. Plus I wanted him cause he was so good-looking. It was fun.”

At this point I’m wondering where all of this is going. We order another round.

“So we decide we want to go someplace else. We leave the bar and start walking. Simon pulls out a couple of joints and we’re all smoking. Just smoking weed walking down the street. We didn’t care. We’re all giggling and Derrick has his arm around me. We end up some really dark bar. I don’t even remember where it was. We’re drinking and we’re all pretty messed up. The place is full of people. We’re in the back. Derrick is like, Do you ever go skiing? and I’m like, yea, I have been but I’m not that great at it, but I have good balance. Then he pulls out this little bag with white powder in it. I assume it’s cocaine. I go, Oh… skiing. I had never done coke before, but I know Amber has and she says it’s great. So they look around all paranoid and shit, and literally start spooning it out. Derrick does a hit and then offers me a bump. I just do it. I don’t know why. Amber’s like, “gimme some!” Then she and Simon do some. I couldn’t believe it. Doing coke in a bar? It felt cold in my nose, and I could feel this clear euphoria. It almost felt sobering to do it. But different. Higher. Intense. I can see why people love it so much. You were in a band in California. You must have done it right?”

“I saw what drugs did to my peers. I was more of a beer and whiskey guy. I smoked weed occasionally but never really liked it. A little drugs an alcohol can loosen the mind to create, but I knew people who did loads of drugs and it literally sledgehammered their talent and destroyed them. So no. I steered clear of coke.” (White lie) Get it?

“Oh well that’s good. But anyway, I know I’ve been blabbing on about this. Long story short, these guys come back to our place and we end up fooling around with them. It was crazy. I guess we were all just caught up in the moment. I think we stayed up most of the night. Well, Derrick and I ended up being boyfriend and girlfriend after that. It felt like he really loved me. I loved him.” She takes a sip and a deep breath, looking off into the distance, as if trying to visualize a faded past. An image that vanished in her rearview mirror long ago.

“What happened?” I say, concerned.

“We went out for about a year. It was intense. We moved in with each other. Amber had gone off to school anyway so it was perfect timing. Things were great at first. But they always are in the beginning. We always did things together and went places together and partied together like a really great couple. I know he was focused on his music and really wanting to make it. But there were a lot of times when he wasn’t around. Times I wouldn’t hear from him and couldn’t get in touch with him. A girl starts to wonder what’s going on. I even started spying on him. Going to places they were playing. He wouldn’t see me, but I wanted to know what he was up to. I wanted to trust him, but you know when you get that weird feeling in your gut that something’s wrong. Well, his behavior had become more and more erratic. I know he was doing drugs but I just wasn’t into it like he was. We just weren’t connecting like we did in the beginning. Like maybe he was just tired of me.”

“Sometimes he would even get really mad about things that didn’t make any sense. Well, one night I followed him after he left me to do a show, and I saw him making out with this redhead at a bar. He wasn’t even playing with his band that night.  She was like all emo or whatever with tattoos and shit. I was devastated. I just jumped on the train and went home.”

“I’m sorry I’m telling you all of this.”

I could see that her eyes were wet with the beginnings of tears. “It’s okay. You can tell me. I’m here.” I took her dainty hands in mine. She sniffed and nodded, holding back the tears.

“That night he had the gall to come home and try to do it with me. I pushed him away. He got all mad at me and I told him what I saw. He denied it at first, but I told him I followed him and saw him. He got really mad and started throwing stuff around. He broke this little snow globe he gave me in the beginning. At that moment I didn’t even care about the globe. He had already broken something far more precious than that stupid thing.”

Okay, now I was getting upset. “My God, Rebecca. I’m so sorry.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. She took a healthy sip of her drink. I wiped the tears from her face with my thumb. She hugged me. “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s not your fault, Rebecca. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

She sniffed and I offered her a cocktail napkin. (Note to self: Start carrying a clean handkerchief in your lapel pocket.) She wiped her face, and her nose. ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

My bartender showed up at the table. “Is everything okay?” he asked. “Yes…yes. She’s just suffering a loss.” I replied. “I’ll bring you another round, yes?” I glance at her. “She smiles and blinking her eyes, nods in affirmation. He quickly returned. “These are on me guys.”

My man at Tippling is always on point.

“Okay, so that was over a year ago, right?”

“Yes. He took his stuff and left me. I was crushed. Destroyed. I cried for months. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I drank so I could get some sleep. When I would wake up in the morning, I’d  just go to the bathroom and dry heave over the sink.”

I could see she was struggling. “So did something happen recently?”

Heavy sigh. “Yes. He reached out to me on social media. I had blocked him from Facebook and in my phone, but I was on Instagram and he got to me that way. I had a panic attack when I saw his name.”

“Let me guess. This happened sometime after you and I went to the Museum.”

“Yea. I know it’s so stupid. He said how he missed me and how he was wrong and had grown so much. And like the idiot, I unblocked him in my phone. We met up and as crazy as it seems I was actually happy to see him. He looked a little older and a little more haggard, but it was still my Derrick. We were at a bar up in Northern Liberties. Things felt different. Time had passed. Too much time. I had grown and healed. But old habits die-hard. I just wanted to take a look at him. He said he was really sorry for what he had done. He said it hadn’t worked out with the redheaded slut. She actually ended up cheating on him with some drummer in a band that opened for them. I was actually kind of glad to hear that. But I’m sure he didn’t feel the loss that I had experienced. I had scar tissue on my heart from what he did to me. But I couldn’t let him tear open the sutures and open my old wounds. I work in a hospital emergency room. That shit hurts!”

Rebecca actually laughed at that moment. It had been the first time the whole night. That sound was like magic to my ears. I smiled a knowing smile. Because she didn’t know that I have been down that road twice in my life, and it’s a nightmare.

Love is a many splintered thing.

“So yea, that was a two months ago. I told him that I’m glad he was doing well, but I had moved on after a year and that I was in a relationship with a really nice guy in financial services.” She laughed again. “I could see he was disappointed, but I couldn’t let myself go through that shit again. It was a small chapter in my life and I had to draw the curtains on that dead body. He had me, and he squandered it. I think in that moment he realized that it was really over for good. It was hard to do, but I told him I had to get home to Cole, my investment banker boyfriend. He hugged me, and I knew I would never smell him again. it was like pulling the plug on a fatally injured patient.”

“So that was it?” I took a sip of my rye infused medicine.

“Yea. I went home and put on and episode of Stranger Things and ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s and had a good cry. So… that’s why I disappeared for a while. I just needed to think about some things and move forward with my life. So, I’m glad you met up with me tonight. I’m sure you never expected our second date to be this confessional. I really appreciate you listening to all of that, but it felt really good to get it out. I was like a little tree blowing back and forth in the wind, but now I feel more calm. Like the storm is finally over and I’m safe.”

“Well, I’m glad you trusted me enough after one date to see me again and confide in me, Rebecca. Like my profile says, I’m a good listener.”

“Yea…Thank you.” Taking my hand again in hers. “You’re like a strong tree. Good roots  with unwavering branches.”

“Yea, and my bark is worse than my bite!” I snapped. She cracked up. Rebecca was back.

“You’re awesome.” she said as she again hugged me tightly. Oh, that lovely slender neck and her fragrance was sobering.

We had our intimate moment and then paused.

“Are you hungry?”

“I’m starving!” she laughed.

“There’s a great bar called Mix that is one block from here that has delicious 12 inch brick oven pizzas.”

“That sounds like the greatest idea I have heard all day! Do you think I’m over dressed or pizza?”

“I’m sure you’ll pass they’re rigid dress code, Rebecca.”

And with that she pulled from her hair the thing that was holding it in place, and those rich ribbons of dark chocolate tumbled over her lovely shoulders.

It’s hard to believe that this story could get any better at this point, but it does. The bill came and my guy placed it on the table. I reached for it to access the catastrophic damage to my bank account that 6 drinks at 1 Tippling Place would cost me… plus tip.

But Rebecca was faster, and she grabbed it first. “Uh uh. This is on me.”

I was in shock. My face, a mask of disbelief and mute protest. “Are you sure?” She looked at the bill. “Yep.” She whipped out her credit card and stuck it in the flap, as she nodded to the bartender.

I instinctively reached for my wallet. “Can I at least help with the tip?”

“Put your wallet way.” She said firmly, giving me a wry smile.

“Will you at least let me buy a lady some pizza?”

She ran her fingers through her hair, fluffing her dark locks. “I’ll think about it.”

The bill returned. She signed it and handed it back. ” Come along, Sir. I’m hungry.”

I liked that she called me Sir. I also like that she took my hand, and led me out of there. When we were outside she locked arms with me. I was in heaven. We’re on our way to eat delicious pizza.

 

Tune in for The Return of Rebecca, Part 2 in Two Weeks!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly