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!

 

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Annabelle – Chapter 1 – Nice to Meet You

I get the bill. “The second one was on me.”

The title for the Annabelle series was going to be: “The Final Elegant Arc” but in light of what I’ve learned in the last year, I can no longer call it that. So I’m not going to call it anything.

My life has its moments of elegance and moments of pain, but it is far from final.

I was meeting ex-girlfriend Michelle (See: Michelle – 2007 to Present – Nice to Meet You) for brunch on a Saturday. She was getting her hair done in the morning and then we would do our usual Saturday ritual. I was early as usual and her hair appointment was running long. (That kind of amazing beauty takes time. Just happy we’re still friends!)

I stepped into one of the shittiest hotel bars I’ve ever been in. Just because it was a block from the hair salon. The Warwick Hotel is a beautiful place on 17th and Locust. They have a restaurant a coffee shop and a bar connected to the hotel. Prime Rib is a nice spot on Locust and Tavern 17 is at 17th and Chancellor. I’ve been to this bar many times before when friends would visit the city and stay at the Warwick. The drinks suck, the service blows, the management turns over on a semi-annual basis and the way the place is laid out is in a way where you can’t see anything. There are all of these large pillars or supports that are everywhere through the bar area, and you can’t see what’s going on at the bar. The bartender may not see you and you’ll have to wait.  You can’t find your friend, etc. It’s just a suck bar.

But I thought the number 17 would bring me luck. 17 is my family’s lucky recurring number. It is very prevelant in my father’s life and I thought there could be something there. Recently my friend Trish (See: Trish – 2011 to Present – The She Wolf) asked what my birthday was. I told her 8/9/62. She said,  “What’s 8 plus 9?” I responded…17.

I walk in a little hung over from the night before. The website I worked for at the time had a huge party the night before and we were all a little shattered from it. I walk in Tavern 17 around 1pm on that fateful Saturday. It’s empty and dark. Which for once I was happy about. Behind the bar was a very tall, fresh faced, slender blonde working the bar.

I swagger up to the bar and ask for a Corona. I introduced myself and run my usual program on her. “What’s your name, what do you like to do when you’re not working here?” She tells me her name, and says she’s a photographer as her full-time gig. The Corona is crisp and deliciously ice-cold. It’s actually just what I needed.

Something tall and golden that is no longer Michelle.

Annabelle seems nice and I’m making her laugh with my fatal charm. She’s 5’ll”. Taller and leaner than Michelle. We exchange business cards. I tell her I’ll check out her website. (Michelle is still way prettier though! Michelle reads this blog!)

I text Michelle and let her know where I am. I’m having a beer and she can just come here when she’s finished.

I crush the first Corona just to knock the edge off the day. Annabelle pops the cap from another and places it front of me. It’s just as good as the first. There is no one else in this shitty bar at this time of day, and she’s happy to have someone with which to chat.

She says she does a lot of head shots for local actors in the city. Annabelle is very connected with the local theater community here in Philly. She also does some wedding work as well. I’m assuming that pays pretty good. I can’t put and age on her but she looks to be about 24 or 25.

I’m feeling better now. Chatting with this tall blonde is good and the cold beer has reactivated the alcohol still in my system, giving me a gentle but effervescent buzz.

The door squeaks and the sunny afternoon light pours into the bar. Michelle enters the bar. “Oh, and here comes another charming and lovely blonde.” I say on cue. I introduce the two ladies and we have a laugh. “Your hair looks great, Michelle”

I get the bill. “The second one was on me.”

“Thank you, Annabelle!” I tip up to what the bill would have been and gather my stuff. We say goodbye to Annabelle and head out of Tavern 17 into the afternoon to have some delicious brunch and drinks.

Then we’d probably head back to my apartment and watch Netflix, sip wine, and smoke cigarettes. I’d be in my chair and she’d recline on my sofa.

I later checked out Annabelle’s website and reached out to her on Facebook, but nothing ever came of it. I didn’t ask her out on a date or anything. I may have asked if she ever wanted to meet for lunch or something. My usual gentle M.O.

But like I said, crickets.

When you meet someone like that, and it’s brief, there is a good chance they will quickly fade from your memory. I met tons of people back in 2012. I had a job that was 50% socializing. I didn’t forget Annabelle, but I wouldn’t see her again until a year later in 2013.

And it would be a whole new ballgame.

 

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Church – 2013 to Present -Seizure Salad

I’m sitting in my go to bar with Church. It’s our spot and it’s what we do. He’s sipping a Sailor Jerry and Coke, and I’m having my usual Chardonnay with a side of ice. He orders a salad and I go with the sliders. There is a couple a few seats down from me to my right. I know the guy, his name is Brian, but I don’t know the lady he’s with so I wave but don’t approach. He could be working.

On the left of Church, is a brunette in her thirties and an older gentleman. Looks like a lawyer. We don’t really pay any attention. We’re chatting and doing our thing.

Daphne rolls behind the bar and says hello. She tells me it’s a slow night. Not much happening. She goes back to her hostess stand and it’s just another night in paradise.

Suddenly, the woman who was sitting to Church’s left, goes off the bar stool and hits the floor. Normally, I’d call that Thursday night.  We see so many banged up people around the city losing their shit. But this woman was having a seizure. People within visual range are shocked and the bar goes quiet.

I point to the phone on the wall, because the bartender on duty didn’t see one of her patrons suddenly vanish from the bar. “Liz, call 911.”

She starts dialing. Church, with his cat-like reflexes, springs into action and goes from sitting next to me sipping a drink to all the way around the other side of her on the floor holding her head to keep her steady. I get down there and untangle her leg from the lower rail of his bar stool. I have the legs. Church is focuses on the poor woman’s head. She’s thrashing about, and Church is barking commands to those around him. He’s literally single-handedly coordinating the effort to help save this poor woman, and keeping her from injuring herself further.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but Church was formerly a Corpsmen in the United States Navy.

A Corpsman works in a wide variety of capacities and locations, including shore establishments such as naval hospitals and clinics, aboard ships, and as the primary medical caregivers for sailors while underway. Hospital corpsmen are frequently the only medical caregiver available in many fleet or Marine units on extended deployment. In addition, hospital corpsmen perform duties as assistants in the prevention and treatment of disease and injury and assist health care professionals in providing medical care to sailors and their families.

They may function as clinical or specialty technicians, medical administrative personnel and health care providers at medical treatment facilities. They also serve as battlefield corpsmen with the Marine Corps, rendering emergency medical treatment to include initial treatment in a combat environment. Qualified hospital corpsmen may be assigned the responsibility of independent duty aboard ships and submarines; Fleet Marine Service, SEAL and Seabee units, and at isolated duty stations where no medical officer is available.

Yea, pretty bad ass. That’s the guy you want next to you when somebody takes a header at your favorite bar.

She’s making what almost sounds like barking sounds, and staring wildly about. He’s got a good hold on her. He’s talking to her. But mostly he’s trying to keep her from bashing her face into the wooden wall of the bar. The bartender comes around, and some others have gathered. I grab a cloth napkin and ask if we need to put it in her mouth. I always heard that epileptics could bite or swallow their own tongues. Church says, no. He knows what he’s doing and has the situation well under control.

She seems to be calming down. I look over at the guy who was with her. He’s just standing there staring, and looking uncomfortable. The paramedics come and stabilize her. I feel so bad for her. It’s the holidays, and she’s out for a drinks and this horror befalls her. They get her onto the gurney and roll her out. The police are there and also ask some questions. Church is on point, he gives law enforcement the full report.

They also speak to the guy she came in with. He says he doesn’t know her very well. He met her over at DelFrisco’s steakhouse, and then brought her over here for a drink. That’s a big lawyer hang out. Not my scene. This guy didn’t do anything to help or comfort her when she had the seizure, and he didn’t go to the hospital with her. I don’t care if you just picked up the chick in a bar. Lady falls down, you go to the damn hospital with her. I’m thinking that weasel was married and didn’t want any problems. How would he explain to his wife that he was at the hospital with some other woman? I may be wrong, but I got the vibe something was definitely shady about that guy.

We go back to our seats at the bar and have another drink. Church is pissed because somebody was telling him to turn her head when she was foaming at the mouth and that’s not what you’re supposed to do. Me, I was just glad the lady was okay.

Daphne came over to chat and get a recap. I tell her what I know, and tease her.”You had to say it was a slow night and that nothing was happening, and look what you did, Daph…”

“I know, right? Me and my big mouth.”

Indeed…

 

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