Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

RIP Ralph Archbold AKA Philly's BEN FRANKLIN

Ralph Archbold, the quintessential Benjamin Franklin


Back in the late 90s, I worked at the City Tavern as a server. I've mentioned it before. My server/waiting/bartending jobs set the tone for my wild and crazy 20's.  I became extremely close with a group of other servers from the Tavern and remain so to this day. We were a motley crew of twenty somethings:  men, women, black, white, Hispanic, young, old, single, married, gay, straight .. you name it. We worked hard and then played hard, hitting the sack at the crack of dawn, only to get up 5 hours later and do it again for double shifts at the Tavern. Twenty years later, I loved that time, wouldn't repeat, and still thank God I survived some of it.

For those who don't know, the City Tavern is an accurate reconstruction of a period colonial tavern in Philadelphia on the exact same spot as the original building where we servers would wear colonial garb and serve tourists traditional American fare with a twist. The Chef Walter Staib, still overseas operations since the early 90's. It was called the "most genteel tavern in America" by our founding father John Adams and hosted other founding fathers by the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.

One of the fun aspects of Independence National Park is the opportunity to interact with the impersonators who play historical figures walking around the Park conversing with the tourists. We Servers at the Tavern ran into the historical actors on many an occasion as the Tavern was a popular stop for their wanderings.

Benjamin Franklin, played by the late Ralph Archbold since the 1970's, would come in quite often and mingle with the guests moving from room to room stopping at tables, offering advice, commenting on people's "gadgets" or clothing. He would try wandering into the kitchen and we would kindly direct him back to the dining rooms. Always nice, always professional, he would continue his educational anecdotes and speeches while being directed by staff into the more common areas of the Tavern.

Sadly, Mr. Ralph Archbold passed away this year on March 25, 2017. Mr. Archbold was absolutely incredible at his job. I didn't appreciate his dedication to his job and his craft was until I matured a bit more. Here is a link to the great article written by Jonathan Lai on Philly.com.
http://www.philly.com/philly/obituaries/Philly-Benjamin-Franklin-impersonator-Ralph-Archbold-dies.html

It isn't until I thought about Mr. Archbold's impressions of Mr. Franklin that I really how good he was. This blog post also serves as an apology to Mr. Archbold because my friends and I were a bit of a menace to the poor actor back in the 90's while he just trying to do his job and do it well.

To a twenty something kid who was trying to handle 10 lunch tables at once, Mr. Franklin ... was downright annoying. He would get in my way, disrupt my service, and be the cause of a great deal of stress for myself, a snotty nose obnoxious waiter, serving lunch in the 90' Philly summer heat.

Even between lunch and dinner services, Mr. Archbold would NOT break character. He was devoutly loyal to his alter ego, Mr. Franklin, to the core. For instance, someone would pull out a flip cell phone and Mr. Franklin would inquire, "What is that newfangled device you are speaking into?"
One of us servers would respond, "OMG Ben, it's a cell phone,  you know that ... Break character and have a Coke."
Marc (with Cindy, the nicest server ever)
Mr. Franklin, "Oh I don't know what you mean ... talking into a little hand held box ... how extraordinary! Maybe I'll just have a sherry instead."
"UGH!" we'd collectively reply.

"Oh my look at that horseless carriage? What will they think of next?" Ben would exclaim.
"It's a Philly taxi cab Ben! We are all on break! Now please give US a break!"
"No, no," he'd reply in his slightly faux British-American accent. "Much work to be done today and then I'm off to bed, for remember, early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!"
"Please Ben, it's 99' out, it's hot, and your are quoting us your famous quotes again!? I've got two lobster pot pies in the back I will most likely burn myself on, I need to focus on juggling them to table 10, four pepper pot soups to table 4, and pick up 3 Thomas Jefferson Ales at the bar!"

Ben, I mean Ralph, no I mean Ben, would quote his famous quotes often much to our surly dismay. We'd comment to him, "Oh my GOD! Are you kidding me? Will you not break character? There is no one else around? We are not tourists!"

I was an asshole to be sure, a punk bitch ass ungrateful waiter to be more specific. I get that now.

Ben/Ralph was truly a nice guy. It just annoyed our immature selves that he would be in character 24/7. Hell, even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson broke character every now and then to complain about the hot weather, their girlfriends, the honking taxi cabs or the fact that all they wanted was a beer in the August heat.

But there was Ben, always in character, ever so knowledgeable. "You know when I was a child, we didn't have these large metal electric cold boxes, we kept our ice in an ice house! Do you know I invented electricity?" as he wandered through the restaurant kitchen while we were trying to eat our pre-service staff meal.

"REALLY BEN!!?? Can't we just each our employee meal!? Will you just stop it for 10 minutes while we eat! Then you can go back to being Ben, OK?"

"Oh I surely don't know what you are referring to my good man. Remember ... An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."
"Please for the love of God, Ben, stop for just 5 minutes! What does that even mean? I'm just a waiter who can barely pay his rent and have enough money for partying the night away at a local dive bar!"
Ben would just laugh, shake his head, and continue wander the building dropping quotes and missives to unsuspecting tourists.

The man was incredible, he absolutely loved his job. As a young server, it annoyed the hell outta me. But then again, most of the world annoyed the hell outta me. My job did, my apartment did, the summer heat did.

As a (ahem) mature adult, I now appreciate this man's dedication and loyalty to his craft. AND I formally apologize to Mr. Rich Archbold, our Philadelphia's own Ben Franklin.

Rich Archbold, you will surely be missed by your great city of Philadelphia! And actually, you will be missed by me. I wish I could have the love for my job that you had for yours.

Lastly, I am reminded by a quote from Ben Franklin I've just recently discovered. And I thank Mr. Ralph Archbold for it, as I would not have discovered it if I had not started writing this blog post:

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." by Benjamin Franklin 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wisdom Going into my 47th Year

I won an Emmy for my bullshit work through life. LOL


This year has had its share of ups and downs. Rather than relive the past years events, I figured I would share with you some wisdom and observations I have learned, some which I've been reminded of, and some interesting facts I've discovered.  Some old, some new. As always, they are in no particular order. I spout off as things come into my head. OK OK, maybe serious to silly...

I often get myself worked up trying to get everything done on my "to do" list. Never happens. I am reminded of this voice in the back of my mind. It is my mother's. We were having a quick conversation one morning the year before she passed away. She asked me what I was doing on such a beautiful Sunday. I said I had a list of so much to do but I had to tackle the dishes. The dishes were the priority. She responded to me, "THE DISHES? Marc, the dishes can always wait. Go out and enjoy yourself today. The dishes will be there tomorrow."  With that, I did what she said and I had an awesome day. The dishes were there tomorrow and no one got hurt putting them off for another day! I always seem to go back to her voice in my head, lovingly admonishing me. 💗

Friends are an ambiguous term with regards to today's social media. Use your social media WISELY and make certain people "close" friends, others "acquaintances" and unfollow people that give you stress. It helps. You don't have to unfriend them, just unfollow them for a bit or so. Remember, you aren't gonna get along with everyone and THAT'S OK. I know I've been unfollowed by several people and I'm fine with it. (Honestly I really don't care. I just shrug my shoulders. Life is too short to get worked up over that.)

Or, take a break from social media for a week or so like sometimes I do. You may go through a withdraw for a day or two but trust me,  you'll get through it.

If you wanna be friends with someone, then be friends with someone. Don't let other people (who may not like that person) influence you ... make your OWN decisions.

Over the years, friendships may grow apart. That's natural. But they can also be rekindled. Don't let other people poison your mind or sway you. Again, I know I'm driving this home, make your own decisions about who you want to be friends with. Don't over think it. You can apply this whether you are a teenager or an adult.

Also, try not to give a shit about what people think about you (still even at 47, sometimes easier said than done).

Don't be so hard on  yourself with life in general. It's not easy, wasn't meant to be. We as individuals, are constantly learning.

The older I get .... the LESS I KNOW. Remember when we were 20 something and thought we knew fucking everything??? Yeah, that lasted a New York second.

Getting in shape is harder than ever as you get old so go easy on yourself on that too. Just keep doing SOMETHING, keep moving, and stay active.

One awesome beer is worth more than 3 crappy ones. I still would marry a good Saison farmhouse ale if I could. :)

I'm beginning to channel my grandparents with the tissues and hankies I keep hidden everywhere. (Hey I got allergies, whaddya want?)

I look at my disheveled self in the morning and say to myself, those bums are even lucky I'm making it in.

No tomato sauce after 10 PM. Hits me about 3 AM.

I compare medications with glee to people my own age and older: "Oh yeah, you're on Lisnopril for high blood pressure too? What dose!?" It actually becomes a rite of passage!

I am still NOT cool with checking the age box "45-54."

I looked into the qualifications for becoming a Franciscan Monk this year and apparently, I am TOO OLD! They have an age requirement. I didn't even get to the part that being Jewish might hold me back...

Time for progressive lenses for my glasses, I am playing the dancing paper game in front of my eyes, trying to bring paperwork into focus.

And now for some ridiculously stupid crazy embarrassing fun things I have learned:

Oil Rigs are not attached firmly to the ocean floor by large metal or concrete pylons. They are actually kind of large ships floating in the ocean, staying relatively still adjust to the moving waves/water. It's called a flotation production system. WOW.

Straw and hay are apparently not the same thing.

Custer's last stand is NOT Custard's last stand. The former was at the Battle of Bighorn, the latter located at 7302 Rising Sun Ave in Philly. LOL

I think that's a good place to end this. 😉