The Dale Wiley Show is broadcast every Friday from 2-3 pm on KWTO Radio. The show focuses on books, interviews with authors and musicians, interesting content focusing on Midwestern history and lore, and humorous segments.
March 16, 2018
BEAUTY FROM THE ASHES: THE STORY OF THE EAST SIDE
Today on my KWTO show, I'm going to air an interview with the cast of the East Side podcast that I have been working on. It is far different from anything that has aired on there, and I want to tell you all about it. It is my story, and it will surprise some of you. Here we go.
I spent a good portion of two years of my life on The East Side, from 2009-the beginning of 2011. I had been involved in the horrible failure of my business, and I felt like I had been deserted by God. I never stopped believing in God, but I sure felt like he couldn't communicate with me. The one place I could escape was going over to the gentlemen's club I joined on The East Side. It was pricey, and I could go there and forget about things for a few hours. When I got over there, I immediately started asking myself: What is the world are you doing over here? I wasn't raised like this! And those were the constant thoughts running through my head.
I spent a couple (literally like two) nights over there asking myself those questions, and on about my third visit, I was sitting in the main area of the private club, sitting with a beautiful and very intelligent VIP bartender, and a guy who was going through a divorce himself, and he sure made me look like a champ. He was wearing an Ed Hardy t-shirt way too tight Affliction jeans and he was probably way more honest about his pain than I was. He was drunk and he sat down and turned to me and said, "can you fall in love with a stripper after one day?" I did a double-take a responded, "Falling in love with a stripper will make a bad situation so much worse." The VIP bartender didn't miss a beat and said, "They oughta write that in neon above the door of this place." My head immediately went to the opening of The Interno by Dante, when "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter" is written above the door to hell, and I knew at that moment that I had the reason why I was there: This was my great American novel.
It was one I was too embarrassed about to even think about writing. Couldn't even consider it. Even though I escorted people from Crane up to my little private paradise, I couldn't dream about telling my mom about it, and frankly, at the time, I wasn't writing much about anything anyway.
But the stories and characters I saw! And what eventually became very apparent to me was that for every ridiculous story I could tell about the people I met over there, I saw another one that was brilliant and heroic and beautiful. I made some of the best friends of my entire life during those two years, those who showed and proved their dedication to me. And I saw how the men treated the women, which is not a very good thing, to say the least.
There were so many lessons I learned, about the way that a man might have a bad evening if a date went bad, but a woman might lose her life. I helped some women get divorces and restraining orders, and I had a heckuva good time along the way.
Then I dated a woman who exceeded every expectation I had ever had, and I left that life, never returning even one time since then, from July of 2011 to the present. I couldn't stand the way the women were treated, and I saw a woman who made me feel better every day about the way I was a parent to my own kids. It was truly a revelation.
We started getting serious, and it probably would have gone further, but the man she had been serious with found out about us, tricked her into coming over to his house, and then shot himself in the head while she stood there. She describes watching the smoke come out of his mouth. The bullet lodged under his eye, and miraculously, he didn't die.
In the next couple of months, I found out who my real friends were, and I found out that these lines were not entirely the way I would have imagined. But I found out how stalwart and upright some of the new people I had met really were.
And then I went to my girlfriend's church in State Park, Illinois. And I learned what an amazing thing the right church can be at the right time, Amazing friends and amazing people who let me experience miracles galore, literally from the first day I went there. The relationship couldn't stay together after the PTSD and the guilt, but I found out that God never left, even when I was looking the other way. Maybe especially when I was doing that.
I wrote the first couple of my books, and then reconnected with my old friend Phil Conserva and started planning out all of the different ideas I had planned out since 2009. All the things that had time to develop in the way with all the TV shows I loved best like Breaking Bad and Arrested Development, figured out I could handle that type of "oh I know where that was from" watching and re-watching that the best TV provides, and was on my way developing the "gritty urban drama" I have lived with for nearly a decade.
The podcast debuting on March 30 is a part of that world. It is G for Gritty, not G for Good. R for Real, maybe. It's filled with curse words and a type of writing that I feel like is the best work that I've ever done.
We talk about the story in this "bonus" episode of the Podcast, and I wanted to let everyone know that I didn't intend to share this much, but it came out, and it's time to tell the whole "story behind the story."
Subscribe to the podcast, and let's make this thing big. My Hollywood team has treated this project like a jewel, and I thank them for that. I thank Italia Gandolfo and Liana Gardner for helping along the way with the writing side, Andréa Vasilo for helping write the TV pilot, Heather Burns Knierim and Liz Allen Giordano for being constant sources of inspiration, Ron Habermehland Debi Habermehl and Nancy Moss and Darlene Denninger for inviting me to the best church ever created, all my Crane friends for sticking by me, my new sticking up for me, GiGi Hutchison, Elizabeth El Armstrong, Anita Bruffett Karr and Robert Montgomery for helping bring the first part of this vision to life, and for my sister Elizabeth Wiley Exley along with my non-Facebook parents for always being there.i thank Mackenzie Parks for being one half of the two best friends I have found (Kenz, please thank our non-FB friend Candice) and everyone who has been along for the ride.
Not everyone will like this story. I am finally okay with that. But I think it's important, I can attest to it being real, and it certainly changed me. I guess I'm asking for forgiveness instead of permission, but here is the story I've been waiting to get off my chest since the earliest days of 2009.…
January 1. 2018
Happy New Year! Enjoy a great Soutee letter from 1975:
December 22, 2017
Full Episodes available to download:
November 24, 2017
November 17, 2017