A little more than three months ago, in our January 12 issue, I told you a little bit about the story of my friend, local karaoke legend Wild Bill Peterseim. The article gave a lot of information about a 70-something man who not only does a pretty good Elvis impersonation while doing pushups during the musical interludes of his (and other people’s) karaoke songs at O’Brien’s Irish Pub in the Wesley Chapel Village Market, but also of his long business career and of him saving a man’s life at the Lexington Oaks clubhouse pool.
Lexington Oaks is the community where Bill lived with Linda, his beloved wife of 46 years, who passed away last year from an extremely rare form of melanoma and where the couple lived in the aftermath of Bill falling victim to a trusted business associate’s Ponzi scheme. Believe me, the above is the Reader’s Digest version of the story.
Since then, Bill has had the home in Lexington Oaks taken away from him by the bank in the aftermath of the Ponzi scheme (another really long, hard-to-explain story) and it was possible he would have to move to Winter Haven to live with one of his two daughters and her family.
Shortly after my article came out, Derrell Newell, another O’Brien’s karaoke regular who actually is a professional Elvis impersonator, informed Wild Bill that he was planning to perform a benefit concert at O’Brien’s to (at the time) try to keep Bill in his home.
That benefit was held in February and, more than 60 songs later — including about a dozen duets by Bill and Derrell — a total of $700 was raised, all of which was donated to help Wild Bill pay some bills.
About $160 of that total came from Bill’s new friend, local photographer and DJ Chuck Amstone, who read about the benefit in the Neighborhood News and contacted me to get involved in the fundraiser, even though he had only met Wild Bill once or twice before (Bill does have that effect on people).
Chuck brought his photo booth to the benefit and raised his money by asking people for donations for Bill when they took pictures in the booth during the show.
I give major props to both the charismatic Costco employee who prefers to be called “Elvis D” and to Chuck for stepping up big time for a friend.
Around the same time, Wild Bill’s financial picture became a little bit brighter when yours truly hired him as an office assistant. Even though I knew that Bill was overqualified for the job I hired him to do — organize my shambles of an office and the storage area next to our conference room — I also knew that this vibrant guy who is back to doing pushups on stage after a little bit of a health scare of his own would sink his teeth into it and do a spectacular job. And, he has exceeded my expectations. My only regret is not taking before-and-after pictures because no one who has spent any time at our “palatial” office would believe how organized the place is now.
So, the saga of Wild Bill continues. Come meet Bill, Derrell my fiancé Jannah and all of the other karaoke regulars at O’Brien’s on almost any Wednesday night. Gary Carmichael of Heart & Soul Karaoke is back and he has the greatest song list in creation, so whether you end up singing or not, I know you’ll feel like another member of our karaoke family.
If you’re looking to hire a Vegas-quality Elvis impersonator for your next event, Wild Bill and I both urge you to contact Derrell at (617) 909-0168. And, for all of your DJ/photography needs, call or text Chuck at (727) 215-4487.
So, if you haven’t watched the recent episode of WCNT-tv, where Susanna Martinez and I tell you how I did in the Sharkbite Challenge & Paddlefest off Honeymoon Island on April 14, I hope you’ll access our Neighborhood News Facebook page and watch it.
Here’s why: Two years ago, when I first entered this four-mile (more on that below) race, I did so in a kayak I borrowed from a friend and it just so happened that the Gulf of Mexico was extremely angry following a big storm that day. It was so bad that the organizers rescheduled the Saturday races for Sunday, where the winds were still 25-30 knots and the seas were 3-5 feet. I ended up flipping the kayak and swimming it to shore.
This time around, I went to check out Honeymoon Island a few days before the Challenge, and it was like deja vu. Even though I now have my own 18-foot-long surfski single kayak (I call it the “Neighborhood News/WCNT-tv Banana Boat”), the winds were whipping up to about 25 knots and I just couldn’t stay in the boat. Oh…and I recorded it all on a GoPro-style camera and showed a smidgen of it during the WCNT video. Pretty funny stuff.
Undaunted, I still returned to Honeymoon on the 14th and, with only 10-15 mph winds and much calmer seas, I finished the 3.5-mile (they did shorten the course because of the wind) Open Division race 61st of 92 finishers, in 58:14. It may not be the feel-good story of the year, but it did make me feel pretty good about myself, despite the fact that others in my age group beat me by more than 20 minutes.