Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not Really TMI

This is not TMI in the sense that it will make you go "ew", but it's still a bit embarrassing for me because it involves a time when I had a little too much to drink.

In the early '70s, I went to a Kiss concert at the Omni in Atlanta with my friend Gary and my other friend Gary. Back then, although there were strict rules about what you could and could not bring into a concert venue, nobody checked very closely and it was ridiculously easy to sneak things in that, strictly speaking, were prohibited.

Thus, my friend Gary decided that he would take along his mini-cassette recorder and tape the show for posterity. In 1973, a "mini-cassette" was approximately the size of an unabridged dictionary, but Gary somehow managed to get it into the show under one of the enormous CPO jackets that we were all wearing at the time (I've mentioned before that this was a very ugly decade).

Anyway, this thing was huge, came with a leather cover, and had all the fidelity of a tin can on a string. Since the microphone was built in, it tended to pick up whatever sound was closest to it, which in this case was about 10,000 screaming teenagers. Gary held this thing over his head at arm's length all night. We listened to the tape of the concert later. Since the little built-in mike was completely overloaded, the entire tape came across like a static-filled AM radio station at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It sounded something like this:


Anyway, another advantage of attending rock concerts in the seventies was that the vendors would gleefully sell beer to teenage boys like myself and my friend Gary and my other friend Gary. Suffice to say that we took full advantage of this lapse of judgement.

As the evening drew to a close, Gary decided that it was time for him to retrieve the leather cover for his recorder, which he had earlier stowed under his seat. He searched around under there and came up with a hand covered in blood. Turns out that somebody else (none of us) had decided that it would be a good idea to smuggle a pint of vodka into the concert and perhaps, I don't know, break the bottle under the seat of some unsuspecting concertgoer.

Anyway, Gary had managed to gash his hand wide open on said broken vodka bottle. Fortunately, he was also in such a state that it really wasn't causing him a lot of pain. It was obvious pretty quickly that he was going to need assistance. We stumbled our way up the stairs and found an usher, who led us to a guard, who took us to the medical station, which was back stage. Gary and I are standing (reeling) there watching a nurse clean up Gary's hand and apply butterfly bandages while informing him that he should go for stitches, and just over to our left, 20 feet away, was Kiss finishing up their last encore.

As the show ended, I noticed a short, fat, balding security guard standing at the stage exit. He had his back to us and was holding his arms out and saying, "Stay back! Keep back! Back!"

The thing is, nobody was there. He wasn't holding back a crowd, except maybe in his own mind. He was holding back... nothing. In my state of mind (if it could be called that), I really felt sorry for the guy. I mean, here he is, working late at night, probably at a menial salary, and he has nothing to do, really. I give him credit for trying to make the best of it. So, being the kind and gallant guy that I am, I walked over to where he was and leaned against his outstretched arm. He immediately turned all his attention to me, but kept up the same banter. "BACK! Stay back! Give 'em room! Keep back!" I felt really good about it. I had given the man a purpose in life. How many of us can really say that?

Unfortunately, even then he didn't do a very good job. As Kiss took their final bows and exited the stage, I was able to slap every one of them on the back. I'll never forget what happened next. As I was slapping them all on the back and saying, "Nice show!", Gene Simmons looked over his shoulder and said "UUUuuuuh."

Even after giving his all at a show, covered in sweat, and exhausted, Gene Simmons went to the trouble to look over his shoulder at a young teenage admirer and offer him, "UUUuuuuh."

That's right, those of you who met me at the blogger meetup are one degree of separation from all of the members of Kiss.

OK, maybe I was wrong. Maybe it did make you say "ew".


Lemmonex said...

Aw, that was sweet. That poor usher.

Did you see "Role Models"? It is somewhat inconsistent, but there is a whole Kiss subplot that is pretty damn hysterical.

LiLu said...

Ahhh, that is so cool! And you did give that poor squat man purpose... you're a good egg.

fiona said...

Imagine that, having a personal "crowd control guy" I salute you!
You crowd that you are.

lacochran said...

One degree away from Gene Simmons? Ew. I best see a about walking ads for STDs.

Gilahi said...

Lem - Thanks. "Sweet" was what I was going for here. Can't say that I've ever even heard of "Role Models". Looked it up though. Anything with Paul Rudd has to be a winner, right?

LiLu - I think I said it in a previous blog: A saint. That's what I am.

fiona - Sometimes when I'm angry, I turn into a mob.

la - This was pretty early in his career. Maybe he only had a couple by then.

Katherine said...

If you have ever been acknowledged by The Clash, The Ramones, The Cure, or Debbie Harry, I am to ply you with questions next time I see you.

Gilahi said...

Katherine - Sorry, except for The Ramones, most of those were a little after my time. I did meet Keith Emerson once, and I shook hands with Olivia Newton-John. I've chatted with Susan Werner (folksinger) and Susan Powter (amazon). I once met Hans Conried (look it up). When I was 5 I was on an episode of "The Popeye Club" and got to meet Officer Don. I was once introduced to the guy that shot John Lennon (before he did it). Do any of those count?

Mike said...

I like their hit songs. Their picture makes me go ewww. Always has.

Gilahi said...

Mike - In the ugliness that was the '70s, Kiss was pretty much the pinnacle. But hey, they paved the way for such groups as Insane Clown Posse.

Katherine said...

Yeah, the Popeye appearance counts. Totally.

Gilahi said...

Katherine - Cool! I'm going to add that to my resume.

D.C. Confidential said...

Gene Simmons scares me.

Gilahi said...

D.C. - What if I told you that Gene Simmons' real name was Chaim Witz, that he was born in Haifa, Israel, and that he once lost a racquetball match to Al Franken after telling Mr. Franken that he could "kick his ass"? When Simmons demanded a rematch, Franken offered to play for $500 bet and Chaim walked away. Would that make him a little more accessible to you?

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