Archive for the ‘Miami’ Category

Hollywood Sportatorium circa 1979

Posted: June 24, 2010 in Miami

My friend Richard and I were both hyped up about the concert as we were walking towards the car. Hollywood Sportatorium was a lone solitary building way out in the middle of nowhere, but it was always well worth the trip to hear the best rock concerts. Miami wasn’t a major touring venue back in the 70s for most big rock groups, but everyone stopped by the Sportatorium. A large warehouse-like building with a beat–up stage in one end, surrounded by aisles and aisles of weathered seats and a large vacant floor they called “festival seating” that was usually packed so full that a sardine would complain, the Sportatorium had played host to huge 70s icons such as Alice Cooper, Billy Joel, Supertramp, The Guess Who and Santana, to name a few.

The ’76 Santana concert was memorable for me, but not for Rich. Eighteen years on this planet does not instill you with much wisdom, so downing a Salisbury steak TV dinner before the concert and accompanying it with a large bottle of cheap red wine in order to be suitably “shitfaced” for the musical event was not a brilliant idea. Add to this a six pack of Budweiser as we drove up there and you’ve got yourself  the poster child for inebriation. Fortunately, I was not one to drink that much in those days (a fact that has since been corrected throughout the years). My friend Rich, however was much more ambitious. So he spent the first hour of the concert enjoying a view of the Sportatorium floor as he retched out the Salisbury steak, the wine and the entire six pack. The one advantage to this is that we had a lot of elbow room thanks to his insistence on purging. The disadvantage was that it smelled like a drunken cow had come in to decay. Thankfully for Rich, he only puked during the Bob Welch set and was completely recuperated when Santana came on. Being eighteen gave you the ability to shirk off things like losing your entire digestive system very quickly. I just hope Welch didn’t consider his barfing a reaction to his music.

After another evening at the Hollywood Sportatorium, me and Rich were walking out of the Pink Floyd concert all pumped up from hearing most of Dark Side Of The Moon, Animals and Wish You Were Here. The Wall had not been released yet.

“Wasn’t that fantastic, man?” I asked.

“Yeah, man! Totally far out! Gilmour is the best fucking guitarist I’ve ever heard.”

“Oh, come on, man. Don’t go that far. No one beats Hendrix.”

“Yeah, I know but when it comes to bands, there’s no one like Gilmour.”

“Jimmy Page.”

“Yeah, OK. There’s Jimmy Page.”

“Keith Richards.”

“Well, of course, there’s Keith Richards. I’m not counting Keith Richards. I’m just saying that Gilmour’s guitar sounds like angels greeting us into heaven.”

“George Harrison.”

“George Harrison sucks , man.”

I took that as a personal affront.

‘Are you crazy? Harrison INVENTED that slide sound, man! Before Harrison, guitarists would just pluck! Harrison smoothed it all out!”

“What about ‘Sleepwalk’?”

“What?”

“’Sleepwalk’. Santo and Johnny. 1959. That had that slide sound.”

“Shut the fuck up, man.”

We said “man” a lot back then. This was way before “awesome” was introduced into the lexicon of street talk. “Awesome” was an eighties word, probably first uttered by Sean Penn in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” along with “dude’ and “gnarly” although the latter went the way of quickly discarded words like “groovy”. I suppose it had something to do with words that started with ‘g’. But I always had a problem with “awesome”. Still in use today, “awesome” is an incredibly over-used word. To me, the word “awesome” should be used to describe a tsunami or the Second Coming, not say, a really good corned beef sandwich. I still prefer “man”. Much better word. Brief. To the point. You could even say it to a woman.

Dozens of wasted kids like us staggered away from the Sportatorium with us as we approached our car. Everyone had parked on the side of the only road that led up to the Sportatorium because their regular parking lot had been packed since early that morning. Us normal folk had to settle with driving as far away from home as possible and walking the rest of the way once traffic got bad. And traffic always got bad at least 10 miles from the Sportatorium. We were lucky that night, though. We were only a few blocks away. And I was looking forward to the drive back home because earlier,  I had just scored an ounce of grass for all of $30 and it was waiting for us in his glove compartment. In my inimitable twenty-one year old wisdom, I thought it best to take the whole stash with me instead of rolling a few joints. I suppose I wanted to make sure we were officially in the proper state for the mind blowing event that is The Floyd.

“Hey, look at the police lights, man.” marveled Rich.

I looked and yonder near where we parked were a lot of blue and red flashing lights along with what seemed like several people, from cops to concert-goers, milling about. A thought flashed through my mind. The grass. The glove compartment. Naaahhh. I shook it off.

“Where did we park, man?” I asked.

“I think near those police lights.”

“Hmm,” I pondered. “I wonder what happened?”

“I dunno. Someone got busted I guess.”

“Maybe an accident?”

“Maybe. Which side did you park on?”

“This side, nearer to us. Can’t you remember, man?”

As we walked towards where we left the car, we discussed the meaning behind “Us And Them”. “Ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run. You missed the starting gun.”

“That’s so deep, man! They’re trying to say that before you know it, you’re ten years older and you may have wasted all your time.”

“I know, Richard.”

“’Kicking around in a piece of ground in your hometown’, man!”

“I got it, Richard.”

Floyd was God. I was convinced. And I was beginning to get a little uneasy that the closer we got to Rich’s car, the closer we were also getting to the police.

“Oh, cool,” said Rich.  “We’re gonna pass the cops so we’ll get to see what’s going on.”

Then he got strangely quiet.

“Uh, the car is somewhere near here.” He said a little quieter. “It could be any of these. Keep a look out. It’s dark.”

I looked at car after car. White Mustang… white Mustang. Where was Rich’s white Mustang?

The crowd thickened and we had to push past them. We finally got to where all the police lights were and suddenly it was very bright. The cops had brought in a huge white light to illuminate the entire half-block area. Some of the cops were directing us all to keep on walking. I noticed other cops all huddled around a car, on the passenger side. They were in the car with the passenger side door open, flashing their lights inside the car’s interior. It was a white car. A white Mustang.

We kept on walking.

“Uh, was that your car, man?” I asked, dreading the answer.

Richard said nothing.

“Did you hear me, Rich? Was that your…”

“Yes! Yes, that was my fucking, car, man! They were looking inside my fucking car!”

It was at that point that my heart traded places with my balls. Busted. Drug Addict. On my Permanent Record. Jail. Hardened criminals for roommates, where fudgepacking naïve young potheads were their daily recreation.

“What are we gonna do, man” Rich asked with the same level of desperation in his voice that I felt in my bowels.

“I don’t know about you but I’m walking home.”

Yeah, good idea. Let’s walk home!”

We walked silently for a few seconds before he spoke up again.

“Shit! We can’t walk home, man!”

“Why the fuck not?”

“Because home is thirty miles away!”

“I don’t care.”

“Tomorrow’s Monday! I got a test tomorrow! At this rate, we’ll be home by Thursday if we’re not devoured by alligators first!” The Sportatorium seemed to be in the middle of the Everglades.

“Well, what the hell us are we gonna do? You want to go back and go to jail?”
“Oh, fuck no.”

“Neither do I. I prefer to walk home.”

“Do you have any idea where we are? We’re way out west! There’s nothing here but swamps, man!”

“I’ll take my chances with the alligators.”

We walked silently for a few more seconds. I thought I heard animal-like rustling out there in the darkness.

“What about my car, man? I can’t leave my car here!”

“Fuck your car.”

“I can’t fuck my car, man! I still owe payments on it!”

“You won’t be doing much driving in a jail cell, Richard!” I always called him by his full name when he annoyed me. He was beginning to really whine.

“What the fuck makes you think we’re gonna be arrested?” he pleaded.

“I left an ounce of grass in your glove compartment. I doubt the cops are gonna overlook it.”

“I told you not to take all that shit with us!”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Well, if anyone’s gonna get busted it’s gonna be you,” my dear friend said. “It’s your fucking pot!”

“It was in your fucking car!”

“What are you telling me? You’re gonna tell them it’s my grass?”

“Well, you did smoke with me! You’re just as guilty as I am!”

“Maybe it’s something else. Maybe they didn’t find it.”

“Rich, they were looking at the passenger side of your car! They were looking in the glove compartment!”

“Yeah, but why would they make such a fuss over one ounce of grass in a car? Is that a felony or a misdemeanor”

“In Florida? A seed is a felony!”

“I’m turning back.” He said.

“See ya.” I responded and continued to march into the growing darkness. I think we were walking away from civilization because there were no lights to speak of anymore. I could barely see my hand in front of my face. Fortunately, there was still a road.

“I’m not gonna leave you here,” said Rich. “You have to come with me.”

“Don’t worry about me. I’m walking home.”

“Well, if you are, for starters, you’re walking in the wrong direction. You’re walking towards Mexico.”

“I’ll take my chances.”

“Oh, stop being such a fucking pussy. Come on, let’s turn back.”

I swallowed half a dozen times and came to the realization that the jig was up. We had to turn back. There was no other way to get home. Sombreros did not look good on me.

“OK, fine. Let’s just get this over with.” I said.

As we headed back to the dance of lights, I saw my future. I wondered who my cellmate would be. I wondered if I would start getting used to anal sex, if I would go gay. Worst of all, I wondered how I was going to explain this to my mother.

“OK,” I said. “You call your dad and ask him if he’ll bail us out.”

“I’m not gonna call my dad.” Rich whined.  “He’ll kill me if he finds out!”

I tried using reason with him. “He’s gonna find out sooner or later.”

How’s he gonna find out?”

“When you don’t come home for five to ten years, he’s bound to wonder!”

“Oh, my God. My parents are gonna kill me.” he whined. I was sometimes in awe of how high his voice could get when he got nervous.

“I hope this doesn’t affect my grade point average.” I muttered to myself.

We arrived at our destination and saw that the cops were no longer looking at our car. Instead, they were looking at another car. They must have found drugs in all these cars. Judging by the looks of my fellow concert-goers, there was probably so much weed around, I was praying that they couldn’t possibly arrest us all.

We approached Rich’s now lonely white Mustang. I walked over to the passenger side like a prisoner walking The Last Mile. That’s when I saw the side of his car. Window smashed. Side dented.

It had been broken into! That’s what the cops were looking at. And it wasn’t just our car. It was at least a dozen cars, all of them with smashed windows. They had stolen everything. Including the pot! Joy! Rapture! I wasn’t going to jail. I looked at Rich and smiled.

“Hey, man! It’s just a robbery!

“Fuck you!” he said.

“What?”

“Look at my car, man! It’s destroyed!”

Before I could retort, a black, scary looking policewoman yelled at us.

“Hey! I saw you guys walk past! Why are you back?”

Oh shit. Every cop turned toward us. The jig was up. Suddenly we were the center of attention. My response however was so quick, so perfect I must say, that I still can’t believe I had thought it up as I was saying it.

“Well, with all the lights and all the confusion, we didn’t realize that it was our car.”

The cop gave me that look that said, ‘Oh, I didn’t think of that’. She turned away, giving us the evil eye as she realized there was no way she’d be able to pin a thing on us. The rest of the police only turned around and went about their business.

The remaining several hours were spent with Rich filling out reports and bitching about his beautiful car. I gratefully waited, humming ‘Wish You Were Here” and analyzing the lyrics in my head. A walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage. Brilliant. I was getting hungry.

“Hey, Rich. When you’re done, what say we go to Denny’s and get some breakfast, man?”

Yep. Back in those days. We said ‘man” a whole helluva lot.

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