Memorial Coliseum, the big concert venue in Fort Wayne, maintained a “parents’ room” for big nights, where guess-who could go for a little relief during the show. I wrote about it once, and although it was before I was a parent myself, all it took was 30 seconds in the house during an M.C. Hammer show to appreciate the sweet relief it offered to anyone not in the M.C. Hammer demographic — good lord, that volume was painful.
The contrast couldn’t have been greater. Management provided free Pepsi and pretzels, laid out decks of cards and rolled in a TV with VCR. Movie of the night: “Driving Miss Daisy.” I only wish I was kidding. Mothers crocheted and fathers chatted while their futures unspooled on TV. They could only wish that the kids they’d so kindly taken to the show would be responsible enough, and wealthy enough, to hire a driver for them in their dotage. But it was blessedly free of can’t-touch-this, so you couldn’t complain.
It wasn’t my best column, and I remember it mainly for the tiff-ette I had with a young African American copy editor, who thought I’d emphasized the wrong contrast in my scene-setting. It wasn’t about “Driving Miss Daisy,” the movie about being old, playing while teenagers danced ecstatically down the hall, it was about Morgan Freeman being a forelock-tugging servant while M.C. Hammer, young and strong and rich, gets it done on his own terms. Well. Who’s laughing now? M.C. Hammer will be lucky to get a job as some old lady’s chauffeur, as even the comeback tours will go away eventually, and maybe sooner.
But I digress. Detroit being a hipper town, and the Fillmore a smaller venue, they had a different place for the parents, what few there were who accompanied their children to the show last night.
“Would you like to sit in the bar? It’s just off the lobby,” the nice ticket-taker asked as I showed her my main-floor ticket on re-entry during the opening act’s set. The pain must have shown in my face. I hope the relief did, too. And while, being a responsible adult, I didn’t exactly get M.C. hammered, I did enjoy a tall Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy while watching ultimate fighting on the bar TV. The beer was lemony, and the fighting was disgusting. Really. Blood smeared the mat while the fighters grappled in, frankly, rather homoerotic style. One guy, the bleeder, was getting his ass kicked, but refused to surrender. They went down in another clinch, and the dominator leaned close to his ear. He appeared to be saying something, and I hope it was, “Jesus Christ, your blood is spoiling my footing. Tap out, you moron.” Finally, he did, and the director took the time for a dramatic overhead shot of the carmine aftermath.
This, friends, is what is killing boxing, a sport I’ve finally come to appreciate during all my Miss Daisy stay-at-home Saturday nights, which is when they show the bouts on HBO. I like the strategy of it, the skill needed to score while protecting yourself, the necessity of enduring a certain amount of what must be crushing pain in pursuit of victory. I like the trainers’ corner talk, which, being HBO, is not censored: “You’ve got to put this fucker down,” etc. (For the non-English speakers, they provide translation.) And I like watching the cut men work their magic with icy enswells and petroleum jelly. A good cut man knows as much or more about the blood vessels of the human head than a doctor.
At one point the ultimate-fighting bout was stopped so that a guy in latex gloves could examine the bleeder. He wiped the fighter’s face with a towel. Somewhere in a squared circle in heaven, Cus D’amato wept.
I went back into the house for the last 10 minutes of 3Oh!3’s set. I hear they’re tight with Ke$ha. The less you know about both, the better.
And now off for stock-up shopping for my weekend catering gig, as well as boat-launching. Every year the latter gets easier, and I’m told I will not be required for much. Huzzah. But I still need some heavy-duty foil pans, racks, maybe some sterno. Restaurant-supply store, here I come.
Thanks to Michael G for finding this nice Ken Levine appreciation of Ernie Harwell. Crisp, simple, to the point and worth your time. Meanwhile, it appears yesterday’s treacle-fest by Albom was only the warmup. Today:
There is a sound to silence. We heard it around the world Wednesday. It was the sound of tears, laughter, noses sniffling, voices quivering, it was the sound of a million baseball memories echoing in the sudden silence of the Voice of Summer…
Get a grip, Mitch. The funeral is still a couple days away. Today Harwell lies in repose at Comerica Park, which was setting up for the event as we left the show last night. Lights on, no ballgame. Sad.