Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From The Way Back Machine

Back in the old days, I worked at a place where real bands played.  A place where if you were brave enough, you could go see a show some 200 days out of the year.  A place where your feet might stick to the floor, but you didn’t care, because you were seeing a band on their way up, or one that was gracefully returning back to the bottom. Sometimes only a ten spot to see some of the best bands of the day.  New bands, old bands, classic rock, punk rock, metal, reggae, rap, alternative, you name it, we did it. The great part about being part of that scene during those heady days of my youth was getting to interact with the bands, the fans, and people of all walks of life.  On one night, I got more than I bargained for.....

Ugly humid summer afternoon. And there’s no air conditioning in here.  We’ve all got used to sweating out the booze from the night before, and we’re doing what we always do.  Waiting on the band and crew to show up.  The bus pulls up, and the door swings open with that Star Trek kind of noise that the bus doors make.  Out stumbles the crew, weary, and red eyed, and they head towards the load in door.  A moment later, a tall lanky figure appears.  Black mop of hair, leather jacket (in this heat!), skinny black jeans, and Chucks.  He says “Hello” as he passes.  I smile, and am without a response, as my chin is on the alley pavement.  It’s Joey Ramone.  Joey EFFIN Ramone!

There are few artists that I hold in high regard for their contribution to American music.  The Ramones top that list.  I’ve always been a fan, and yes, I was a punk rocker of sorts.  Not a boot stomping moshpit punker.  Just a big fan of the thrashing, raw energy of its’ best bands.  Tonight, I will see The Ramones up close and personal.  Stageside.

Each song begins with a ONETWOTHREEFOUR!!  Two minutes in a cloud of dust, ripping apart the old venue from the inside out.  Red, white and blue light show to go with their big presidential logo.  They MEAN IT.  These guys are coming at us like a runaway freight train on meth.  Hell, who knows, they might be....  It’s blistering hot in here, and these guys don’t seem to care.  Leather jackets and their sneakers up on the monitors’ edge as they punch us in the face with each song.

After the blazing 90 minute set, I’m on the side of the stage by a stage door, waiting for the band’s crew to start tear down.  I’ve just wiped the sweat off my face with my shirt sleeve.  The stage door swings wide, and in walks two SWAT team members.  Yeah.  SWAT.  Not your local LEOs, these bad asses usually tote machine guns besides their sidearm 9 mils.  Clothed in black from head to toe, vests with SWAT in big gigantic white letters front and back.  We have cops come in all the time, sometimes it’s to tell us to stay out of the streets, or to just poke in and find out who’s playing, or to tell us to move a tour bus.  SWAT guys NEVER show up. Ever.

I’ve gone straight into panic mode.  We have SWAT in the building?  After a big punk rock show?  Something really bad has happened..... I wonder if it's safe to walk to my car two blocks away.

“You- Come here, son.” 
 “Yes, sir, Mr. Badass SWAT team member sir.” 
 “Is the show over?” 
 “Yes sir, the show has ended.  About 15 minutes ago.  More accurately 17 minutes ago.”

He looks at his partner.... Then back at me, completely stonefaced.

“Do you think they’re still selling tshirts?”
I guess the black concert tshirt works well with their wardrobe.


  1. Holy crapola, Batman! I kept getting confused as to whether you were talking about stuff that happened then or whether it was happening now. Honestly, I'm still unclear...but loved the story regardless. I could picture the whole thing...and I do believe I peed a little bit on that part about the 17 minutes since the show ended.

    So. Freakin'. Sweet.

  2. Oh,...shut up! That was too funny!

  3. Middle child, glad you liked it! Miss K, it was a story from a long time ago. The 90s to be more accurate. Joey Ramone 'left the building' in 2001. Gone, but definitely not forgotten.

  4. Oh, the good old days. Would I know the place if you said the name?

    I love living and writing in the past. I just click my heels together three times, and...

  5. Oh, Linda, any self respecting rocker chick from our town would know the big theater style venue down on High Street across from The Union.... ;-)