If you could go back in time and double your income during the first Bush presidency, what would be your commodity of choice?
Rollerblades? Nope. Fanny Packs? Not. Beanie Babies? For the love of Allah, I hope you die a painful death. Perhaps sliding down a razor bannister would suffice.
Back in 1990, I invested a decent chunk of my life savings (about 500 bucks) in New Kids on the Block tickets. They had announced a show for the Wheeling Civic Center and I knew it would be a guaranteed sell-out. Hell, the place seated less than 10,000 and at the time, NKOTB was routinely filling up major arenas.
This was back in the day when people actually "camped out" for tickets. So I did it old-school. I partied all night long at Capone's (Rolling Rock bottles for $1.25) and then ventured westward to the Kaufman's department store "Choice Seat" outlet before the crack of dawn. St. Clairsville would be the scene of the most heinous crime ever recorded in the history of the Ohio Valley Mall. Come hell or high water, I was going to scalp the living shit out of this New Kids nonsense.
Turns out, I was one of the first people in line around 5am. A few teenage girls had been on the scene since well before midnight. They pestered me with a barrage of questions. Who's your favorite New Kid? What's your favorite song? Who did I think was the hottest? E-gad. I reflected and gave due praise to the unforgiving concrete.
I assured them that I was only there for the "white sale" --- deep discounts on linens, sheets and pillow cases. But they saw right through my ruse and persisted with the interrogation. So I changed my story and told them I had been tasked with getting tickets for my younger sister. Note: I only have two older brothers and I doubt that either of them has ever taken an active interest in NKOTB. After a while passed, they gradually grew more suspicious and somehow managed to get me to fess up. I made the mistake of admitting that my sole intention was to buy tickets and resell them for a tidy profit. With nothing else going on, this newly found controversy set everyone on fire. They actually started to harass me and even threatened to alert the Belmont County police and the Kaufman's manager. Comprehend the audacity! Some asshole had the unmitigated effrontery to exploit the benevolence of the world's first mega-Caucasion boy band.
At one point, I retaliated with a hellacious "SBD," a silent but deadly fart that stunk up the entire line. Keep in mind, we were in an outdoor environment. I tried to play it off. Like it wasn't me. But the narrative was impossible to spin. One of the girls even started to cry. She called me a "stinky scalper" and rallied everyone against me. An old man eyed me up, held his nostrils and yelled "Peee-youuuu!" But I held my ground. I wish this part of the story wasn't true. That it was just my overactive imagination. But it was the real deal. In 1990, I maliciously exposed some 7th graders to a round of abhorrent flatulence.
Long story short, I managed to snag about 20 tickets. My plan was to sell them for a little more than double the cost (in the neighborhood of $50 or $60 a pop). I even placed an ad in the local Green Tab. Needless to say, my phone rang off the hook for the next couple of weeks. I'll be honest. It made me feel important. I envisioned myself as a coke dealer on Miami Vice. My ground level apartment on Wheeling Island served as the base of operations. And I'd arrange for clandestine meet-ups at the nearby Convenient Food Mart, exchanging New Kids tix for cash.
Seriously, it gave me a tiny bit of a rush. Like I was part of a burgeoning criminal enterprise. All mobbed up, n'at. Probably because this whole thing coincided with the ongoing "Catfish" Joseph mafia trial at the Wheeling Federal Building. Back then, I worked at the McLure Hotel parking garage. This put me directly in the middle of all the action. Everyone (the jury, the lawyers, the media, the scumbags, etc.) used my facility... so I had an excellent front row vantage point from my little aluminum booth.
Months later, the New Kids would stay at the McLure. Once again, everyone was looking for an angle about who was coming and going. And once again, I was deemed an "authority figure" on the scene. Not a good sign when you're sporting this retro-mulletized plumage with 50 shades of near-sighted confusion.
When your appearance is comparable to this ^^^... let's just say, get the fuck outta my way. Move over, grandma. Saf is livin' life in the fast lane. And I hate to steal whoever coined these lyrics but they would seem an apt characterization. Totally spot-on.
Nobody's gonna slow me down, oh-no
I got to keep on movin'
So fast forward about a quarter of a century. Last night, Gigi and I entertained her family for a couple hours. She fed us steaks, dill and/or basil smashed potatoes, salad and pencil-thin asparagus. I've said it before... thick asparagus is for losers. And for dessert... homemade blueberry cheesecake. Yummo goodo.
I took the opportunity to school her niece's husband on the dome hockey table. It was both an educational and emotionally rewarding experience, for myself and Air Force.
We kicked them out around 6:30 and devised a makeshift plan for the evening. Two options --- Steve Miller at the inaugural concert at the Riverhound's Highmark Stadium at Station Square OR we could hit up the New Kids on the Block concert at Consol with opening acts, TLC and Nelly. I thought to myself... isn't Nelly the guy who peed on some teenage girl? It's amazing how some expertise with damage control can salvage an embattled rap career.
Turns out I was thinking of R. Kelly... not Nelly.
With the forecast calling for torrential rains, we wisely opted for the indoor show. To be honest, I was pretty indifferent. I've seen Steve Miller at least a dozen times. He opened for the Dead during the stadium shows in the summer of '92. Seen him a bunch of times at Starlake too. His concerts have a strange effect. Physically speaking, when he plays Swingtown or Fly Like An Eagle, I tend to yawn, both loudly and aggressively. It's similar to an allergic reaction. But I do likes me a groovy Abracadabra.
In retrospect, we made the right choice. The Steve Miller concert ended up being postponed due to inclement weather. How ironic --- earlier in the year, I had an extended conversation with Riverhounds owner Richard Nightingale about their emergency evacuation protocol. He understood my concerns (warning fans with a 3 second looped message... that LEGIT evac orders do NOT come from your personal cell phone), but never took any action. Not a surprise really. Hey, at least he listened and was forthright and honest when he admitted that "nobody had ever brought this matter to his attention." I do give him credit for at least acknowledging the fundamentals.
Anyway, Gigi scored a freebie ticket off some woman and I ended up purchasing a print-out for 5 bucks off this one desperate scalper. I had a difficult time reconciling this transaction. The last time I paid anything for a ticket --- in 2012, I paid $3.00 for a ticket to see Queensryche at the Wheeling Island Casino. I've carried that stigma of shame, that scarlet letter of defeat... up until last night.
We really didn't have much of a choice. The scene outside the arena was pretty dead. All the "seasoned, veteran" concert goers probably went inside around 5pm. I'm being facetious of course. These 40 year old fans were almost exclusively divorced women, all decked out in their vintage Saved by the Bell wardrobes. The row of women below us truly put the "punk" in Punky Brews, the newest line of Soldier Moon Fry fashion.
So what are my actual thoughts on the show. Well, we missed Nelly. I'll assume that he played the "it's getting hot in here, I'm gonna take my clothes off" song. Truth be told, when it comes to "not" taking off clothes, there can be only one. And that's Smoky Mountain Sam, the former drummer for Jermaine Stewart, who in all likelihood embraces nudity to the fullest extent of the law. I scoured the internet but couldn't find the pic I wanted with the frizzed hair, devilish mustache and drumstick in mid-twirl. Trust me, it's a gem.
Hard to believe Jermaine Stewart died in 1997, nearly 20 years ago. Now that is insane.
We caught most of TLC sans Left Eye. She's dead as well. About 15 years ago in a car crash in Honduras. Didn't she torch Andre Rison's house? He was a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. Now that is the essence of CrazySexyCool.
Hey, the Atlanta Falcons have a new stadium going up. Here's a thought --- if you truly respect your feathered fans, why not explicitly warn them that LEGITIMATE emergency stadium evacuation orders would NEVER be delivered via their personal cell phones? Seriously, how difficult is that? Just tell them the truth.
TLC was okay I guess. The highlight was when they lured this overweight, homely gay white dude onto the stage and gave him a pseudo-reverse lap dance. I guess that qualifies for a highlight. I mean, it's better than listening to Ted Nugent speak at a Ted Cruz rally in rural Texas while chewing on thick asparagus I suppose.
After a brief break, NKOTB thugged their way on stage. Incidentally, the set up was really impressive. It took up almost the entire floor of the arena. I've seen a few shows "in the round." But this stage was really striking. Plenty of moving pedastals and corridors which allowed for a lot of fan interaction, sweaty hugs and embraces, selfies, and various masturbatory simulations which elicited shrieks of unbridled enthusiasm from the audience at-large. And when I use the term "at-large," I really mean it. The crowd's collective weight seemed considerably heavier than your typical Long John Silver's restaurant.
I gotta be honest, they were pretty decent. Not a whole lot of musicianship, but I wasn't exactly anticipating Radiohead. Their voices have held up pretty well over the years. Kind of like if Sinatra had a bunch of bastard Boston offspring. They even waved terrible towels and flashed pics of the Penguins, Pirates and Steelers. Not sure how they reconcile this with the douchebag Patriots who also fail their fans miserably with regard to obsolete evac protocol. So do the Steelers.
Now one of the guys just can't sing. As a matter of fact, his voice totally sucked. I'll end the suspense. It's the tannish orange Guito on the left.
However, he did manage to compensate with some impressive flexing and breakdancing.
All things being equal, it wasn't that bad. Of course, my expectations weren't very high. Somewhere in the realm of Sarah Palin on her knees, using a loaf of Wonderbread to sop up a pile of vomit spewed forth by a drunken Kenny Chesney fan.
I'll leave you with a Pittsburgh Hangin Tough. This one's from 2013 at Consol.
Jesus Fucking Christ! 2013, 2015... is it reasonable to assume that NKTOB will be back in 2017? With all the combined excitement and professionalism of the Republican "clown car," maybe that clown on the left (Guito) should enter the presidential race. Not sure about his domestic and foreign policy views, but I'm sure he'd be the superior singer. And that pretty much sums up the sorry state of affairs heading into 2016.
Here's my motto --- if you can find a CREDIBLE major party candidate who's a BETTER politician than Hillary, lemme know. Because I honestly believe that individual does not currently exist.