I will occasionally edit for other writers.
This is something I edited for someone who had a story, but is not a writer. I chose it as part of my resume’ and collection here for that exact reason. That, and the content. Hopefully, you’ll be as entertained as I was.
A Long Wait for the Day That Never Comes
“You fucking cunt!”
The hostile words screamed from my mouth still echoed the walls as we were escorted out of Madison Square Garden by six large men and one fat, angry little woman into the dark, rainy New York streets.
AC/DC, arguably the greatest hard rock band on earth was finally on tour again after an eight-year hiatus. They were playing two sold-out nights in New York City. Years of waiting and planning – and I managed to procure floor seats. That’s right; the mighty AC/DC LIVE IN NEW YORK – AT THE HISTORIC GARDEN! Unfortunately, I was never going to see this show.
From an early age, I’ve been involved in a passionate love affair with rock and roll. When my aunt died of a drug overdose, I was the beneficiary of her record collection. Among these was an AC/DC Back In Black album. While flipping through my newly acquired collection, I was immediately intrigued by the simple black cover and the spiky, violent lettering of the famous AC/DC logo that said so much by showing so little. (Looking back, it was a fitting follow-up to Highway to Hell and the untimely death of the great Bon Scott.)
When I placed the album onto the turntable and laid the needle down, I was greeted with the ominous tone to the opening of Hell’s Bells. The bells of death slowly rang and Angus Young’s guitar riffs filled the speakers. I was enthralled. As AC/DC rocked out, I held the album in my lap and poured over the artwork and lyrics. I had never heard anything so overpowering and beautiful. I had never seen anything so bizarre as this crazy long-haired man in a schoolboy uniform sporting a guitar with horns running around stage. I was hooked.
Many alcoholics and drug addicts often go back to the first time they tasted liquor or their first shot of junk; a vivid memory because it was a profound moment that ultimately affected the rest of their lives. In addition, they say the first high is always the best and you spend the rest of your life trying to duplicate it. To me, this moment was profound because my life has never been the same since that day. My vice isn’t the bottle or dope; it’s rock music – and I will never get enough.
If rock and roll can be deemed a religion, then I was officially baptized at eight years old by AC/DC. I’m now thirty-nine and still listen to the same music that I did when I was in the fifth grade.
When I hold a record in my hands, I worship it the way the priest does his bible. From the print on the spine to the smell of the sleeve, I cherish every part of the album and savor every note of the music. This is primarily why I detest CDs so much; they have no soul. Listening to an album is an experience. Only people who truly love music can understand what I am saying. Music just seems more alive on vinyl and the album sleeve is a real piece of artwork in your hands.
There are two types of people in this world; people who like music and people who live and die by it. I am the latter. I’m one of those guys that could be in a bar surrounded by willing, beautiful women, but spending all of my time going nuts over the excellent jukebox instead. Whenever I’ve had extra cash on hand, I spent it on an album. I once lost a job in college because I HAD to see Fugazi when they came to New Orleans. They rarely made it to the area and it was not going to happen again in the near future. I had skipped work and gone to the show. Of course, I got fired and almost couldn’t feed myself, but it’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I don’t think they made it down to New Orleans ever again.
With that said, I will now tell you about the worst night of my life. I had been waiting years to see AC/DC live. I’d missed their tours in both high school and college. Military deployments kept me away as well. After years of sifting through web sites, magazines and chat rooms, rumors of their long-awaited new album had begun to circulate. My time had finally come. AC/DC was going on tour again after eight long years and there was no way in a highway to hell I was going to miss it.
Because I am an anal retentive music fanatic, I strongly believe that there are only a few places that a rock show may be seen. These locations (in order) are New York, Donnington, Los Angeles and London. Additionally, wherever the band is from will suffice as well since hometown crowd enthusiasm is usually unparalleled. I am from New York and have had the pleasure of seeing most of my favorite bands there. Compared to other places around the U.S. that I’ve been, bands just don’t put out the same way they do when in the Big Apple – it’s a fact. New York crowds also are the most responsive and fun, therefore making the concert experience a memorable one. If one of my favorite bands is playing, I will always fly to NY from wherever I am to see them.
It’s literally impossible to get a good ticket from the Nazis at Ticketmaster, so I was forced to deal with a group of dirty pirates known as ticket brokers. AC/DC would be in NYC in November; by September my plans were in motion. After getting raped for almost $600, I had acquired floor seats. I originally wanted to spend $500 per ticket to get closer to the stage, but my brother, who was my faithful concert companion, would not go for it. We were still on the floor, which was fine by me.
After waiting roughly eight years and two months, November thirteenth arrived and it was time to rock. I flew up to Long Island on the morning of the 13th from Orlando, Florida and met up with my brother. We had a great day planned; we were going to take the train into the city, catch up with our younger sister, who was a senior at Fordham University, and get properly smashed with other AC/DC fans at the bars surrounding the Garden.
Our first stop was the Blarney Rock on 34th Street. The Blarney is a carpenters’ union bar that has outstanding food. My brother and I downed four beers, a basket of wings and watched a bar fight between two irate carpenters while we waited for our younger sibling to show up. So far, the day was coming along famously.
When my sister arrived we hit up a few bars around the Garden looking for trouble. Being that it was only three o’clock and the show didn’t start until eight, everything was still fairly quiet. We stumbled upon Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, where we heard AC/DC tunes being played full blast on the restaurant speaker system. Derrick, our bartender, was a great guy and seemed highly entertained by our rambunctious state due to the family reunion and of course, AC/DC. We proceeded to drink several Pabst Blue Ribbon tall-boys while singing along to AC/DC tunes.
My brother was the first of the group to display his drunken state when he got up on his bar stool and screamed, “AC/DC…HIGHWAY TO HELL…WOOOOOOO!!!!!!” After being told to calm down a bit, Derrick gave us a round of shots on the house and asked us to please stay a while. My last clear memory of the BBQ establishment was the three of us slamming our hands down on the bar in synch to the bass drum opening of Hells Bells. The bar had gotten packed full of AC/DC fans and had become very festive. At 7:30 we parted ways with our sister and hauled ass over to the Garden.
As we entered the front of Madison Square Garden, we immediately stopped at the bar and I ordered two vodka cranberries. In hindsight, I should have known better. My brother was a beer guy and has never handled booze very well. Despite this well-known fact, my brother, being the good Jew that he was, had never turned down anything that was free and eagerly took the cocktail.
Our seats were great – right on the floor towards the back of the fourth section. We quickly made friends with everyone around us and settled in. Within minutes my brother was convinced that we could get better seats. He was a city cop and knew a lot of officers who moonlighted at the Garden. To my surprise and delight, he knew the ushers working the first section in front of the stage. His friend told us that if we came back after the first band was done, she would get us to the front without any problems. This night had officially gone from damn good to quite possibly the greatest time of my life. Or so I thought. This is where the story gets better for the reader and goes horribly wrong for the narrator.
One of my pre-concert rituals is to take everything in around me; the stage, the lighting, the sound booth and of course, the impressive size of the arena. After all, if rock is my religion, then the concert venue is my church. As the lights dimmed, the first band made its way onto the stage. They were called The Answer and also hailed from Australia. As I looked around the dark arena, little red lights began to illuminate the Garden. AC/DC sold these devil horn headbands that lit up and flashed red. It was awesome to see glowing devil horns floating in the dark all around me. My excitement suddenly kicked and the realization that I was finally there hit me hard. The Answer started playing and sounded a bit like a Led Zeppelin cover band.
Halfway through the first song, I felt a tugging at my shirt. I looked down and my brother was sitting with his head between his legs, spitting onto the floor. Being the man of the world that I am, I immediately recognized his actions as the universal sign for “I’m gonna puke.” I grabbed him by the back of his shirt and dragged him into the nearest restroom.
The floor seat restrooms are definitely the best kept secret in New York. Squeaky clean, never a line. No puke or some douche bag pissing in the sink. Furthermore, there’s a liquor bar right outside. Instead of taking a twenty-five minute trip for a shitty, lukewarm beer, you can have vodka!
Anyway, I dragged my brother into a stall and he immediately started letting the chunks fly. Up came the wings, beer, vodka cranberries and even a bagel we had at the train station.
After about ten minutes, I asked, “Are you done yet?” I heard a faint whisper emanate from the stall: “I have to shit.”
My brother is a father of two and owns two properties. Recreational drinking is and has been a thing of the past for quite some time. When he gets a chance to go out, he blows the wheels off. Additionally, when he is really sick, he always has to defecate. One time he slipped on ice and hurt his back. At the hospital when he came to, they had to carry him to the bathroom to evacuate his bowels. I guess it’s some weird reaction his body has to pain. I think it’s totally fucking gross. I’ll just leave it at that.
So, at that point, my brother was crapping in a stall while spitting on the floor. The Answer had just finished their set and I began to get antsy. I got up on the adjoining toilet and looked into his stall, shouting, “Get your shit together, it’s almost GO TIME!” No response. I opened the door and slapped him in the face. “What the fuck!” He was up. After a few moments of motivating words and cheers, he cleaned up and emerged from the stall.
He appeared okay and it was apparent that we were going to make it. My brother looked at me with sleepy eyes and asked where the sink was. As I turned to point to the row of sinks, vomit sprayed past the tip of my index finger. Jesus Christ. My brother coated two sinks in puke. Luckily, there was no one in the bathroom. I felt so bad; I tried to conceal the mess by wiping off the sinks with a wad of paper towels.
Finally, in a strong and confident voice, my brother bellowed, “I’m ready, let’s rock.” He took two steps and did a header straight into the tile wall and slid to the ground. I put one arm around his waist and made him put his arm around my shoulder. As we entered the floor area of MSG, we looked like a couple of soldiers fresh out of a shit-storm firefight in Da Nang.
I walked him quietly by a group of ushers back to our seats. “Stop right there!” Fuck. A small, fat woman ran over. “He’s too drunk. He’s gotta go.”
I assured the woman that he was fine and there would not be any problems. She wasn’t hearing any of it. I began to beg. Like a little bitch I stood over her and pleaded with everything I had. “Please ma’am, these tickets were very expensive and I’ve been waiting years for this show.” Nothing.
She said there was no way my brother could stay. At this point, I started to hurl every curse word I’d ever learned at her. In short time, we were surrounded by six very large, very black security guards. The guards escorted my brother and me to an elevator and boarded with us. As the elevator began to move, my brother came to and cocked his head up. It wobbled like a baby who had not yet developed the proper muscles to hold its head up straight. “I bet you all voted for Obama…fuck you!” He then passed out. I looked up at the six large men. “I’m sorry; he doesn’t know what he’s saying.” Thank God they worked for the Garden because if we had been on the street, I’d be dead.
I couldn’t believe this was happening.
We had floor seats and were about to have FRONT ROW seats. Now we had nothing.
At this point, some readers might ask, “If it was so important to you, why didn’t you just leave him be and see AC/DC by yourself?” Well, to this fair question I have a two-part reply. First, you never leave family behind. Second, the puke-spewing poop machine next to me was a New York cop. I couldn’t allow him to tarnish his record with a drunk and disorderly charge.
As the guards escorted us out, fans were making their way in. They were happy, rambunctious and walking into us because they were drunk. Drunk. I started getting mad and began pushing people away from me like I was in a mosh pit. We were surrounded by huge guards in red jackets so nobody messed with us. Before I knew it, we were standing in the cold rain staring at the entrance of Madison Square Garden.
I dragged my brother down to Penn Station to catch the train back to Long Island. When I asked him which train we needed to take, he just laughed at me. I dropped him on the dirty floor. While my brother slept like a drunken snow angel on the station’s concrete, I searched for the information. Our train left in four minutes with the next one in two hours. I picked him up military style and we made our way for the track like we were trying to catch a chopper out of a hot zone. People stared and laughed. I was not drunk. I did have a headache and was sweating. It all fucking sucked. We made the train.
The moment we passed through the doors, my brother informed me that he was going to get sick again. If we got kicked off the train, the next two stops we’d likely be dropped off were really bad areas to be stranded at night if you happen to be a couple of white Jewish guys. I wasn’t in the mood to end my stellar day by having my teeth knocked out, so I hustled him through five cars before finding the bathroom. Ripping the door open, I chucked him in. As the latch closed, I could already hear him wretching. “Whhhooooaaaaauuuugh!”
About ten minutes later, Old Jew Lady was complaining that the bathroom was still locked. I opened the door for her and of course, my brother is on the toilet shitting again with his head between the legs. “You can go ahead and use it. I’m sure he won’t mind.” She gasped and stalked off to another car. I held onto the railing as the car swayed. We would not be home for another forty-five minutes.
Staring out the window, I wondered how the concert was going. I began to cry into my arm and choked back a sob. Really – I did. People were understandably staring at me. Here was a guy with steel-toed boots, ripped jeans and a full-sleeve tattoo, weeping like a little girl. I don’t even cry at relatives’ funerals. I had officially hit a new low.
About thirty minutes later, my brother popped out of the bathroom like a goddamn jack-in-the-box. He was smiling, lucid and looked like a million bucks. “What’s up bro,” he said grinning ear to ear. My only response was a whispered, “Get the fuck away from me.”
When we got to his stop, my brother bolted off of the train and down to the parking lot. When I got down there, I could see his truck rounding the corner. Did that motherfucker just leave me stranded at a train station? Yes, he did. It began to rain again. I put my hands into the front pockets of my jeans and found my concert ticket stub. Taking it out, I held it up to my face for a few seconds and let it drop to the ground. I stood there and watched for a few minutes as the falling rain slowly seeped into it.
I was completely gutted because I was so excited to add that stub to my framed wall of concert tickets. This was THE prize; more important than my Stones ticket and more meaningful than the stub that proved I was lucky enough to be grossly underwhelmed at a Nirvana concert. I wanted to be hit by a car.
I’m in my brother’s neighborhood once or twice a year, tops. If you’re in Nassau County, you know everything looks the same. Every street has a pizza parlor, nail shop and deli. It’s the same type of house style, too – one after another. It took me over an hour to find my way back.
I won’t go into the aftermath of this event, but I will say it was the single biggest let down of my adult life.
I can only hope and pray that the lovely woman who threw us out got a raging case of herpes.
To this day, I am still deeply scarred.
- Ryan S. Nichols