Here we go again, another true adventure from years ago. As always the main thing to remember is that this is a true story.
The year was 1983, and this time I am sure about it. The radio station in New York that I listened to at the time announced this spectacular concert that was to take place in California. Something called the US Festival. It was being put on by some Apple computer guy, which to be honest I had no clue who he was back then. But who cared, a three day concert in California that had all the great bands of the day and David Bowie was gonna do a set. They told me it had been years since he had toured so I was in. Of course I also had about the same amount of knowledge of California as I did of Apple Computers so you can imagine how well this is going to come together.
Now I would go anywhere for a concert, but California was quite a distance from The Bronx. This was going to require some skillful planning. First up was securing tickets at the closest Ticketron outlet which just happened to be in the Travel Agency located on the ground floor of the building I was living in at that time. Dale, a bud of mine said he would go, and I figured we would be able to get another victim also so I went in and arranged for the tickets to the show along with the required round trip plane tickets. When to my surprise the agent asked if I would be needing a rental car at our destination. I had not even considered that since we just took the subway or busies around the city anywhere we need to go. Turns out it would have been impossible to get around where we needed to in California without a car. In fact it turned out even with the car we almost didn’t make the show, more on that later. But when asked of course I said ‘sure’, mind you now I barely ever drove, just the work van for deliveries, and also I didn’t even have a credit card. After asking all the questions and filling out some forms the kind lady asked for my credit card at which point I replied, I’ll just pay in cash if that is alright?”. Sure, she explained “we will put it on our card, but we will need to get a deposit in cash now also”. Fine, how much, three hundred no problem, but make sure I have the full insurance coverage with that, good another hundred no problem. And with that the deal was done notching to do but wait the two months until the concert took place.
So that’s the lead in, I will try to get the rest written tomorrow if there is some interest. But this one is a real killer adventure, airplane rides on acid, cops holding shotguns to our heads, bloods crips, magic mushrooms, Van Halen, David Bowie,and a rental car disaster. I mean mud and blood and beer, sunburn, lost in the desert, aliens, it’s like Prego…it’s all in there.
“The last couple of days have not made me very confident in the predictions of engineers associated with the Oroville Dam.
While I am a climate researcher, and not hydrologist, it took me less than an hour midday yesterday (see comments here) to estimate that the emergency spillway would be breached around 9 a.m. PST this morning. I was off by an hour…it was breached at 8 a.m.
The latest releases have caused even more damage widening the hole and cutting away at the side of the hill. The lake is at about 95% so they have to keep releasing I would suspect. This is an earthen dam and if this thing goes it will be a major catastrophe. If you live in California stay alert you do not want to have all that water and earth coming at you.
here is a short video:
A video posted on YouTube shows big trouble at the dam, as the spillway has developed an almost 200 ft. hole. For the earthen filled dam this may turn out to serious, though officials are saying there is no danger at this point. .
According to Wikipedia this is the most important water source for the California Department of Water Resources’ State Water Project.
“The Oroville-Thermalito Complex is a group of reservoirs, structures, and facilities located in and around the city of Oroville in Butte County, California. The complex serves not only as a regional water conveyance and storage system, but is the headwaters for, and therefore perhaps is the most vital part of, the California Department of Water Resources’ State Water Project, the world’s largest publicly built and operated water and power development and conveyance system.”
“Operators increased their water releases at the dam on Tuesday as a significant storm rolled through Northern California. However, as peak water releases started happening around noon, people started noticing some concerning signs”
In terms of a catastrophic failure besides the residents below who could lose everything and the immediate lose of life, there also could be major impacts throughout California in terms of water and power.
1981 was the year I believe. WNEW the NY rock station I listened to most of the time had just made the big announcement. They always pumped it up a bit….”stay tuned we have a big concert announcement coming up at so and so a time”… So tuned in I was, when it was announced that THE Clash would be playing several shows at Bonds International Casino in Times Square. Now you have to understand that rock concerts were really my thing back then. It was not that unusual for me to go to Madison Square Garden to see a show even if it was by myself, I could have a blast anyhow. So with the few dollars I had I headed to catch the 6 train downtown and get me the 2 tickets I could afford. When on my way I ran into Joe Mac. from Archer St. I always liked Joe, we went to HS together at Christopher Columbus HS, a block or so off Pelham Parkway. We both liked the same sorta stuff back then…if ya know what I mean?….
Any way Joe decides to go downtown with me cause I guess he figured he didn’t have anything better to do that day. Well we hop off the train a 42 St. and climb the stairs to the street. Hmmmm? nobody around, maybe we are gonna be the only ones get here this early, so we go around the corner toward where the ticket booth would be and can’t believe what we see, hundreds, no a thousand at least, people on the street, cops putting up barricades, I mean pandemonium!
So over the course of the next several hours me and Joe, through some slick maneuvering had managed to get pretty close to the front when they began selling tickets. Now the police had the barricades set up like a funnel so as you got closer to the ticket window you worked down from about 20 people wide to 1 or 2 wide.
Several minutes before we got to the window the scalpers were asking how many tickets each person was getting, as they were in line also. I can’t remember what the limit was for sure, but it may have been around 8. When we got asked and said we were only getting one each, dude peels off a bunch of bills to each of us and tells us get the limit and he will give us a little something for it when he gets through the line also. Slowly as things tightened up this dude is further and further back from us jammed in 20 deep and way back there when I hit the window. I get my limit and see that he is stuck in the crowd so being the sinner I was and having my little bit of money left I take off toward the train hit the corner and book it. About 2 blocks later I ditch into a bar grab a beer and sit by the window.
Low and behold here comes Joe with the same trot, I put my beer on the bar, ok I downed it first, and catch up to him just as we hit the station, jump the turnstile and catch the train heading back to the Bronx as, the doors are shutting. Not one of my proudest moments now but then, sticking to a scalper seemed the right and noble thing to do. One more thing I forgot, while in line I opened the case that had the big poster in it, like a movie poster at the Theater, pulled out that bright yellow and red Clash poster rolled it up and had it on my wall for years.
If you remember anything about those shows, you know that the first night the Fire Marshall shut them down because they had sold like 7 times the amount of tickets for each night, instead of just that total for all the nights they were scheduled for. So in the end we wound up having like 7X as many tickets, because the Clash said they wound honor all sales and wound up playing shows for a lot longer than expected……true Rockers that they were….loyal to the fans.True story! Sometimes I miss those days, but at least I can still give a shout out to Joe on Facebook wherever the thought arises and Joe..he’s always ready to say hey man , Love ya Joe!
Now Dino was one of my tight buds in high school, we never ventured far from the school together, but still I liked Dino, and I think he liked me. Now as I tell these tales of my life don’t get the impression that I would approve of the things we did and said back then, and don’t think I couldn’t water them down a bit. But if you want an accurate , (or semi-accurate) account I gotta tell it like it was. Remember this is a true story.
Dino carried himself tall, wore a cut off leather jacket, or a cut off Levis jacket. Red bandanna folded neatly hanging out his back pocket, MC boots, and a long chain that hooked to his wallet. While most of us at Christopher Columbus High School had a small tattoo or so Dino had those devils on his inner forearms, one one pointing saying ” hey you” the other saying “who me?. You just couldn’t miss them there. The other thing that struck you about him was that his looks and mannerisms were a sort of cross between Spicoli from Fast Times At Ridgemont High, that kinda stoner thing, and DiNero’s subtle but sure toughness. One thing for sure if something was gonna go down I wanted Dino on my side.
So at the appointed time we both arrived on the street below the station. Up we went to catch the train. As Dino hit the top I saw him just jump the turnstile, and at the same time a Transit Cop reaches out and grabs him. Well, I didn’t hesitate and jumped it too right in front of both of them. Dino kinda smiled, the cop, well wasn’t so much smiling and says, “stop right there”. Now I did not want to get him mad so I held it in but I was like “dah, I’m with him and we got a concert to go to so we sticking together”. Did I say that this was a true story? Well it is.
The officer perceiving that we were not a threat proceeded to take us into the station bathroom, i figured for a beating, but he wasn’t up for it that night I guess. The first thing he did was ask if we had money to pay the fare, which we both did. Second the search began. Me first, 1 slightly large Schrade folding knife, a pack of Bamboo rolling papers, some cash, cigs, two tickets for Queen at MSG. Now Dino’s turn. Oh wait, I forgot a crucial point earlier on the street Dino pulls out a little container with microdot mescaline, or at least that’s what we knew it by. we each popped about 3 on the way up. Now Dino, one nickle bag weed, a zippo lighter, a assortment of knives,several quite large, a small plastic container with these tiny cylindrical objects of a purple color, assorted other things. First up was the weed, would your father approve of this? no sir? “I should just call him now see what he says’ “please no sir” .”and what about all the knives’ “well sir it’s dangerous on the subway at night and…” “and this what is this in this little container flints for your lighter” yes sir, yes sir that’s exactly what they are”…. “Now you boys take all your stuff go pay your fare and don’t ever let me catch you jumping the turnstile while you have plenty of money in your pocket, and spending money on Rock concert tickets”. “Ah sir, can we have our weed back we are going to the concert and all”….”right, right we are going, thank you again sir” True story.
We did as told thankful we didn’t get sent to the #5 line gulag and were on our way. To be honest I don’t remember much of the concert or coming home. I’m gonna blame it on the flints, maybe someday I’ll enjoy the show in a flashback.
Dino, I don’t know where or how you are but, love ya bud..one of the best.
If you are enjoying these stories pick up a copy of my book which has lots more of my writings by clicking here.
Now growing up in Parkchester had a lot of wondrous and exciting advantages to many other neighborhoods in the Bronx. One which stirs up childhood fantasies, and memories is the Hundred Halls as they were referred to by almost every kid in the neighborhood and many adults. According to a paper found online, “Parkchester is comprised of 51 buildings with a modular system of varied cores and wings. 12,273 units house 42,000 people. Building range in height from 8 to 13 stories,” What this means is that most buildings were connected to other buildings. For the record if you lived there you know that we called them 7 story and 12 story buildings And while there were not direct pathways from one lobby to another there were ways to cut through if you ventured down a flight from the lobby. You see back then we had things called carriage rooms. You could walk down a flight from the lobby and go down the long hallways below to enter these rooms. most were long with metal railings on opposite walls. Generally there was a ramp access on the outer side to the lower level for easy access. The women of the buildings would keep the large baby carriages of the era there, some would lock them I guess with a chain to the bar, though I can’t remember anyone doing that. Some people would keep their bikes and store other things in these rooms , before crime got to be such a problem…..
Ok, so back to the legend. While travel between certain buildings was simple to achieve, it was the idea of being able to go to any building in the complex that drew our young minds to adventure. But to do so would require the help of another legend of Parkchester “The Master Master Key”. Master keys were held by the porters who kept the buildings clean and all the things in working order. These master keys were good for one or two buildings but the” Master Master” would access those doors that led to the very secret hundred halls.
One of those Master keys almost cost my friend George, or Tinki, his life when he got caught with it. Not by the police, or the judicial system, no after being informed by the police about the incident Tinki’s dad was the would be executioner, well not quite but it seemed that way in my youth.
Several times in my misspent youth I or a friend would take it upon ourselves to rid a lax porter of his key ring, he may have left on his jacket, hanging on a doorknob while he worked.
This is where the adventure began. the basement halls could be long and dark, with lots of doors that were unmarked except the fallout shelter rooms with those yellow and black signs. And kids, well we loved drama and would try to keep each other on edge and scared as we wandered underground trying keys in doors and going through different rooms to other halls. Feeling like we had gone miles and been down there for hours we would have to ultimately emerge only to find out we were still just a building or two away. of course there was the known fact, by all us kids, that there were many kids who nerve emerged from those halls. That was enough to keep you on edge the whole way through.
Today it may not seem like much to you, but to us who grew up there and lived these adventures, to us it was more than even Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn could have survived. And I’m sure if there are still kids living there that somehow, by someone, the legend has been passed down to.If you could just make it through all the way to come out say in the next quadrant, well you would be a hero for all time. Makes me think about going back and giving it a shot, even at 53 years old.
This is the link if you never lived there that will show you how buildings were connected around the complex.
My friends from the Bronx at Brewskies, playing some great music! Check them out, I know we are all getting older, but it happens. Might even see a few folks that are in my stories! And Tim, who probably played a game or two of Hot Beans and Butter, also bought the first copy of my book FolkWritings From The Future!