Monday, March 9, 2009

A Rocking, My Town Monday Post


This week's My Town Monday post is somewhat of a stretch, as it's more personal than educational, but until I have a functional camera for research, I'm going to rely in memories from the deep recesses of my brain.

The Amarillo Civic Center Coliseum, also known as Cal Farley Coliseum, is nothing special when it comes to arenas. With a permanent seating capacity of slightly less than 5000 it fails these days to draw most top-notch touring acts. Besides being a rather smallish venue, a lot of dates are taken up by the two sports teams that call the arena home. The Amarillo Gorillas of the Central Hockey League and the Amarillo Duster of Arena II football.


I am a huge hockey fan and once upon a time I followed the local franchise, (Back when they were called the Amarillo Rattlers) but Gorillas is a foolish name for a sports team in the dusty, windblown Texas Panhandle. and truthfully the hockey is bad. As a Dallas Stars fan I've become spoiled by the talent of NHL players.

And as far as the Dusters go, I simply do not like Arena football. The game resembles the true sport of football about as closely as WWE does collegiate or Olympic wrestling. But to each his own.


Back to the civic center coliseum. Once upon a time it was almost a home away home for me. You see my mom worked there. She counted tickets and coordinated the ushers and ticket takers, and as a single mom she had little choice but to take me with her most nights.

Many a time I sat at a table in the foyer and finished my homework as roadies scurried about wrapping up the final touches for that evenings shows. From George Strait to George Thorogood. Judas Priest to Jesus Christ Superstar. Liberace to the Lipizzaner Stallions.

In thsoe days the civic center drew quite a few shows, and after finishing my school work, I got to sit back and take them all in, from what I considered the best seat in the house.

My mom wasn't about to plop me down in amongst the metal heads, drunk cowboys, or Tom Jones bra-flinging women, so she ushered me to to the catwalk which circled the top of the arena. Under strict orders not to get up from my seat, I sat up in my heavenly perch with the guys who ran the spotlights and watched both the show, and audience below.

Up there I saw Huey Lewis and the news sing about there desire for a new drug. I sang along as Kenny Rogers crooned about knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. And laughed at the way grown women swooned with Wayne Newton's every corny line. (As a sidenote, my mom met most of the performers and to this day considers Wayne Newton to be the rudest, most pompous SOB to ever grace the earth. And this is a woman with two ex husbands. Ricky Van Shelton and George Strait came in a dead heat for the nicest.)

I was never one of the uber cool kids at school, but getting to see shows like Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, and Blue Oyster Cult long before my friends were old enough did give me a bit of star power in the halls of Oakdale Elementary. But by far, my coolest childhood experience came in the Fall of 1984.

At the time I was a sixth grader. MTV was all the rage and unlike now the television network showed actual music videos around the clock. At the top of the spin cycle was this little ditty that answered the question, What do you want to do with your life?



Like most adolescent boys of that age I loved that video and song and in the fall of 1984 what band was headlining at the civic center? You guessed it Twisted Sister led by frontman, Dee Snider.

And late in the show just after they'd come back on stage for an encore, the prepared to sing We're not Going to Take It. Dee Snider urged everyone to get on their feet. 99% of those in attendance did that very thing, but way in the back one small cluster of concert goers remained seated.

In true rebellious glam rocker fashion, Snider said something to affect of, "Hey you in the back, Get up on you effing feet." And when the people still didn't stand he said. "What's the matter are you effing deaf. I said get the eff up! Don't make me come back there and kick you effing asses."

The people stood. The band played the song and everyone was happy.

Except the Amarillo Police. As soon as the song was finished two officers trotted on stage, handcuffed Dee Snider, and led him away. No one really knew why until the next day when on MTV news a blurb said Dee Snider had been arrested in Amarillo, Texas for lewd and indecent conduct for cursing and threatening concert goers.

None of my friends had been allowed to go, therefore I was the lone expert. Being as that I am a natural born bullshitter and storyteller, not to mention I was an eleven year old boy at the time I probably embellished in my retelling of the incident but that didn't really matter, because I was there and no one else at my school was.


Check back here for links to other My Town Monday posts from all around the globe. I also forgot to announce that Jenn Jilks created this nifty little My Town Monday badge for everyone to use if they so desire, so be sure and stop in to tell her thanks.

Jenn Jilks -- Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
David Cranmer -- Cameroon, West Africa
Mary -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California
Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan
Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Clair Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan
Reb -- Old Strathcona-Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Chris -- Hong Kong, China
Paul Brazill -- Hartlepool, England
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada
Cloudia -- Honolulu, Hawaii
Junosmom -- Kentucky
J Winter -- Cincinnati, Ohio
Linda McLaughlin -- Las Vegas, Nevada

37 comments:

Clair Dickson said...

Great tale, Travis. And I gotta wonder how many "liars" turn out to be fiction writers (or vice versa.)

My MTM won't be up until 11 tonight.

Teresa said...

I love the story, Travis. Your mom is one cool woman to let you sit in on all those shows.

David Cranmer said...

What an education you had there and who would have guessed Mr. Las Vegas to be such an ass... Btw my MTM will be up later this evening.

G said...

Cool story.

The joys of having a parent who has a cool job.

debra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
debra said...

OK--here is my post without the errors!
I always knew you rocked, Travis. My post will be up around 10 this evening.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Funny to think of hockey fans in Texas. I'll be up later tonight too.

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...

Great story, Travis!

On a smaller scale, my Dear Hubby and I work stage at our local street festival, Decatur Celebration. We have work Stage Crew and Hospitality for 22 of the 23 years of the festival. We have met both good entertainers and bad, and can tell quite a few stories as to which entertainers are nice and which ones are total jerks. John Anderson and his band, Daryl Singletary and his band, and Paul Revere & the Raiders tie for first place as being the NICEST people we have ever had the pleasure to work with. Mickey Dolenz, Taylor Dayne, and Mary Wilson tie for the WORST.

Any time you want to swap some stories, I'm game! :-)

Jenn Jilks said...

I am glad that other parents take their kids to important cultural events!

I took mine to Black Crowes, Bon Jovi, and Live (Live).

We are ready for MTM, but expecting snow and/or freezing rain tonight. Whotthell, archie

Glad I am gainfully unemployed tomorrow! Another great story, Travis.

dizzblnd said...

Ahhhhhhh yes Back when MTV was still good. What a little celeb you were. How awesome is it how many concerts you got to view from above. I am so jealous!

McKoala said...

You had a top notch musical education. How did your ears survive?

Barrie said...

You never cease to amaze, Travis! Oh yeah, and my post is up. :)

debra said...

My post is up :-)

Barbara Martin said...

Oh, rock concerts and the loud music. Good tale, Travis. Now I know where your mind is bent.

My MTM post will be up around midnight.

Lauren said...

Interesting story. Thanks for sharing!

Charles Gramlich said...

I grew up at the wrong place and wrong time for any of this stuff. Rock bands didn't really go to Arkansas, unless they were passign through.

Sepiru Chris said...

Today's MTM from Hong Kong is up here!

Paul Brazill said...

Top yarn Travis. If you think your MTM post is a stretch,well, mine is to promote some of my stories which are around the net at the moment. Shamelss? Moi?

Sepiru Chris said...

Your perch sounded pretty fantastic. And the mileage possible from your tales, at school... well, the mind boggles. Good story.

Reb said...

Oh, how exciting that must have been for you! Not surprised about Newton, but I would take Strait over Van Shelton any day ;) Oh, tmi, sorry. Silly dog, get him a chew toy so he doesn't hurt himself.

Mine is finally up.

Bubblewench said...

Awesome story Travis! What a lucky kid you were. Gotta say, really respect your mom to let you sit through that stuff and not having locked you in an office somewhere!

Junosmom said...

Hi Travis, thanks for the great post.

My MTM is more personal this week, too. I have it posted.

eviljwinter said...

What's funny about Twisted Sister is they spent the late eighties butting heads with Al and Tipper Gore.

Whom they backed in 2000.

Politics and strange bedfellows.

And I do miss when MTV really was Music Television.

My post is now live.

Crystal Phares said...

You are my hero Travis! I never got to go to a concert until I was 18 and had moved out of my parent's house. I've still only been to like three!

huddlekay said...

Oh so many memories...Foggy ones. Once upon a time my dad worked at the Amarillo Civic Center and we got to go to shows too. But I was robbed.. I only remember seeing hmm Disney on ice or some such nonsense!

I like going to the Gorillas game's actually. I haven't been in awhile though. We always sit right in the middle by the glass- My favorite thing is banging my puck against the glass or bringing my Hockey for Dummies book, and taunting the Refs and the other team. I miss Shawn Degagne though...*sigh*

Anyway... great post! But saying that is redundant at this point... you always have great posts!

WendyCinNYC said...

That's a great story, Travis.

My parents were a little on the, oh *permissive* side, so I went to a lot of rock concerts growing up. Sometimes they supervised me with a gaggle of my girlfriends, but mostly they dropped us off and picked us up after.

Gah! What were they thinking? Oh well, nothing that interesting ever happened.

Angie Ledbetter said...

No WONDER you are a writer!

ARCHAVIST said...

At the moment I'm serialising Chap O'keefe's western on The Tainted Archive every monday but when that's completed I'd like to do a My Town Monday post.

dondu7 said...

well,I dont know whats wrong with your mother but wayne newton is a true gentleman with a heart as big as gold! maybe your mother was the one who was obnoxious!

dondu7 said...

well,I dont know whats wrong with your mother but wayne newton is a true gentleman with a heart as big as gold! maybe your mother was the one who was obnoxious!

Travis Erwin said...

Wow, a double dose of Wayne Newton love as well as motherly insults.

Ray Wilson said...

Great story, Travis! I remember all those shows. I was such a metal head (still like the old stuff) and I remember Dee getting arrested. My friends and I were all sure that no other "cool" bands would ever come back to Amarillo. Glad we were wrong.

desperatewriter said...

Heh. I remember that. And now I know how much older I am than you, Class of 84 myself. Dee Snyder is in good company, Little Richard was arrested at The Nat for inciting lewd behavior in teens, what with their wild gyrating in tight blue jeans and such.

I miss having a venue that brings in the big acts. They keep building new venues, but none of them are large enough to attract anyone we care to see. I kinda resent having to drive to LUBBOCK to see the big acts.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Great story, Travis. How cool to see all those concerts. The other kids must have been jealous!

My MTM post is up, too, on the two months I lived in Vegas between 8th and 9th grade. I got to see a couple of stage shows, too!

cher said...

I loved twisted sister. My friend and I used to lip sync to them using hairbrushes

Bina said...

You are SO lucky! I can't believe you got to see all those people and bands! And wow. I remember that video, and I remember when MTV played actual music videos, and you could turn it on for HOURS to clean, party, read, whatever and not have to worry about some stupid show coming on. The good days, huh?

I enjoyed that, maybe even more than the "not so personal" MTM's.

WordVixen said...

Bwahahah! That is unbelievably awesome. And I so love Dee Snyder.