Rich Wilhelm

Archive for July, 2016|Monthly archive page

“The Night Juice Newton Waved to Me” and Other Juice Newton Stories

In 1980s, 1983, Cheap Red Wine, country music, family, Juice Newton, memoir, Music/Memory on July 30, 2016 at 11:41 am

I was reminded early this morning that I have several Juice Newton stories. Everybody knows that I once walked Debbie Harry to her car, but did you know that Juice Newton once waved to me?

Way back in 2009, I recorded the video shown above. It was the first official episode of my now-dormant “Cheap Red Wine” video series, and it was about the night Juice Newton waved to me. Not to my dad. To me.

Here is the basic story, though you are welcome to watch the video. It was a September night in 1983. Our family had gone to see country music superstars Alabama at Philadelphia’s Spectrum. Juice was one of the opening acts. At one point during the show, I screamed “JUICE!!!!” and she looked up in our general direction. She waved, presumably to me, though in subsequent years, Dad would humorously note that it was actually him to whom Juice Newton waved.

Later that evening I happily purchased a “Juice on the Loose!” t-shirt.

So, that’s one Juice Newton story. But there are several more.

Like the time I was in church more than 30 years ago and the priest brought Juice Newton into his sermon, citing Brenda Lee’s “Break It To Me Gently,” but noting that Juice Newton’s more recent version was pretty darn good and we ought to check it out. I think the point of the sermon was that Jesus never broke anything to anybody gently, but my  takeaway was that there was at least one priest in the world who listened to Juice Newton, and that had to be a good thing.

Then there was that time in college. I was sitting with friends in the dorm cafeteria when another friend, Ed Masley, bounded in, as only Ed can bound. He was wearing a Juice Newton t-shirt (the “Juice on the Loose” edition? I don’t think so.) and extolling the virtues of a Juice Newtown show he had just seen, I think at the now-long-gone Valley Forge Music Fair.

Years later, Juice played a show at a water park, right here in Phoenixville. I strongly considered going, but it was 2003, the summer Dad was sick and ultimately, my heart wasn’t into going to a concert, especially since Dad wouldn’t be able to go. But if you watch the video, you’ll see that I invited Juice to come back to Phoenixville anytime. I promised Juice that I’d personally attract big crowds to the Colonial Theater, should she want to perform there. That offer stands, as long as the Colonial is OK with it.

As for the “Cheap Red Wine” video, my late friend Tommy loved it, and told me so. He particularly liked how I demonstrated the way I yelled “JUICE!!!!” at the Spectrum that night so long ago.

A few months before Tommy died of cancer, I sent him some of my Really Cool Notebooks, which are made from old record album covers. One of the notebooks was made from a Juice Newton album cover, and he told me in a thank you note that when he opened it and saw a “JUICE!!!!” notebook, he smiled and actually laughed, for the first time in months. Imagining the moment Tommy — who I never met in real life — opened that package, found the Juice Newton notebook, and smiled and laughed is something that has always made me glad I got to know Tommy to the extent that I did. We touched each other’s lives, if only for a few years, and Juice Newton played a part in that.

So those are my Juice Newton stories. Do you have any?




There Is No Way in Hell I Will Ever Vote for Donald Trump

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2016 at 12:40 pm

There is no way in hell that I will ever vote for Donald Trump. For any office, anywhere, anytime. Voting for Donald Trump is a thing that I simply will not be doing in this, or any other lifetime.

If you are committed to vote for Trump, if you really believe that he will “make America great again,” well then, go for it. I am not writing this to stop you.

I am essentially writing this so it is part of my own permanent record. If people stumble onto this blog one year, 10 years, 50 years from now, I want them to see that I was not down with Trump. I want to be able to see it for myself.

[I would also like to note that if the Republicans had chosen any of the 129 other contenders to run against Hillary as their nominee, I probably wouldn’t have felt the need to write this essay. But Trump, well, he’s just special enough for me to want to go on record.]

If you look through my 2016 entries here on The Dichotomy of Dog, you’ll see that I was relatively prolific from January-June. I had committed myself to posting an entry at least once a week and I basically did that.

I kept up with the blog during that period because I was personally going through some things (both good and bad), and we were going through some things as a family (also both good and bad), and I wanted to capture my thoughts on those things, at least those thoughts that I was willing to share.

What you won’t find in any of those entries is a mention of Donald Trump specifically, or the presidential primaries in general. I wasn’t going for political pontification, but Trump and company were always in the background of my thoughts as I was working through the personal stuff.

However, I can no longer allow the blog to exist without making the aforementioned statement:

There is no way in hell I will ever vote for Donald Trump. For any office, anywhere, anytime.

The reasons why? Far too many to count. Mostly though, the man is simply unfit to hold the office and he has conducted himself in a way that has proved this, over and over again.

Now, I know: Hillary Clinton. I have mixed feelings, though if you are a Trump fan, I think it’s a safe bet to say that I like Clinton more than you do (also, it’s a safe bet that I like Yoko Ono more that you do, but that’s a separate essay). Clinton has clearly made mistakes, including some big ones. Yes, I have reservations. But Clinton has my vote. We have had flawed presidents before and we have survived. We will survive Hillary Clinton. In fact, I think we’ll be fine, but I will dial that feeling down to “will survive” for the sake of this entry.

We’d probably survive Trump as well–the U.S. is resilient like that, which is part of the greatness Trump believes is gone–but I believe we’d collectively be a nastier, more morally diminished society by the end of a Trump term.

Finally, I am not saying that Trump hasn’t tapped into a legitimate anger. He has, and that should be addressed by Clinton. This anger, or at least the part of it that isn’t based solely on racism, xenophobia and/or general looniness, should be a part of the national conversation, now and into the future. The Democrats talk about inclusion, and that inclusion should clearly include many of the economically disenfranchised people Trump is reaching. However, based on pretty much everything Donald Trump has said and done over the last year, and over the course of his lifetime, he is not the man to lead this conversation, since his only real focus is how to manipulate the fear and anger to achieve his own ultimately shallow aims.

So, once more, and this is the last time I will say it, because from now on I will simply refer anyone who wants to know my views to this essay:

There is no way in hell I will ever vote for Donald Trump. For any office, anywhere, anytime.





Stuff I Do Because It’s Fun, Interesting, and/or I Get a Free T-Shirt (Part 1)

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2016 at 3:58 pm

My wife Donna has recently started a blog. Check it out, it’s fun!

Over the past few months I’ve helped my friend Karin by volunteering for a few things. She’s an EMT, so she’s always involved in interesting stuff. She also tells some of best, fu…

Source: Stuff I Do Because It’s Fun, Interesting, and/or I Get a Free T-Shirt (Part 1)

The Beginning Is The Ending Is The Beginning

In journal keeping, Philosophy/Creativity, Uncategorized on July 8, 2016 at 3:12 am

Maurice Stephens House, Valley Forge National Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania 7/7/16

Much earlier today, I shot this photo at Valley Forge National Park. My idea at the time was that I could kick start one of my other blogs, 1 Picture, 217 Words. However, after I got home this afternoon, I attempted to write those 217 words and they just wouldn’t flow.

Maybe it’s time to take a break. Truth is, I am surprised to have written as much as I have this year.

It all started with the passing of David Bowie back in January. Like millions of other people, I was affected by Bowie’s death more than I figured I might be. But it wasn’t just sadness. Reading about Bowie’s last year inspired me. I was amazed at how he used his time to further delve into his immense creativity, resulting in the profound Blackstar album.

In short, David Bowie made me want to create. And my most accessible means of creation is to write. So, I started writing, averaging a blog entry a week from February clear through the end of May. I was very happy with some of these entries, merely satisfied with others, but the point for me was that it felt good to be doing the work.

It wasn’t just Bowie though. From New Year’s Day on, we were very aware around this house that each day, week and month that passed was leading to two very concrete events that would be happening during the second week of June: Chris’ promotion to high school and Jimmy’s graduation from high school.

We weren’t constantly thinking about these events, but the knowledge was just there, and that knowledge was certainly informing my thoughts about where I am in my life and where my family members are in their lives. A certain amount of introspection ensued and I found the energy and time I needed to sort it out in the blog entries I was writing.

Meanwhile, the 2016 U.S. presidential electoral circus and various and sundry other events provided the surreal backdrop to whatever else has been going on in my life. Let’s face it: 2016 has been one of the weirdest years anyone now alive has ever experienced.

And, no, I really don’t write about Donald Trump. At all. But the very nature of his campaign has left me wanting to try to restore and maintain whatever dignity I may have lost in my own life and writing seems to be my way back to it. Not just writing–I have been working in other ways on this restoration, but some of these activities have moved at a glacial pace. In the meantime, writing proved to be a very effective outlet.

Then, Chris and Jimmy graduated from their respective schools. The things we had known would eventually happen, did.

So where do we go from here? Obviously, when September comes, things will be a bit different around here. But, for now, I feel like we have fallen into a weird dimension in which each of the four of us is in our own weird little place, with different eating, sleeping, working, and playing habits.

And, for me, the writing stopped. After the graduation ceremonies ended, my introspection dissipated, and has been replaced with a sort of vague blandness. Like it or not, I don’t seem to have much going on in my head right now.

But instead of trying to force the issue, I think I’m just going let this blog and its associated blogs be still for awhile. I’m going to attempt to chill out a bit. In the interim, perhaps I can figure out what it is I want The Dichotomy of the Dog — a title I have more or less maintained for more than 15 years now — to be once I get back to it again.

Or, maybe I’ll just have a new entry next week. Either way, thanks to those of you who have been following along in recent months. I appreciate it.


Patrick F. O'Donnell

writer, editor, general wordsmith and scribe

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