Monday, November 27, 2006

KISS 'Alive! 1975 - 2000'

Last Tuesday on the 21st, the city of High Point had their Holiday Festival Parade and I got to drive the 1075KZL van in that parade. Weather Dave drove the Rock 92 van.

We got there and parked my truck. Then I hitched a ride with Dave and went to grab a little something to eat at Jimmy’s Pizza. My friend Jeff Baker can be found there and on this occasion, Jon Sullivan was there as well. It was a wonderful two-for-one surprise!

I’m not sure, but I don’t think I’ve seen Jon in 6 years when Preston (my nephew) was born. He was working at Women’s Hospital at the time.

It was great catching up with Bake and Sullivan. And if you’re in downtown High Point, stop by Jimmy’s Pizza for one of their awesome pies. If you’re into skydiving, make sure to chew the fat with Baker. The crazy (and I know from experience) mofo digs jumping out of planes with about 15,000 feet of air between him and the surface of the Earth.

After we ate, Weather Dave and I got in our vans for the parade. The weather was rainy, windy, and cold. And yet there were a few hundred folks out there braving the weather. For some reason, every time I saw a police officer standing out in the elements, they were smiling. Everyone seemed to have a smile on his or her faces. In my mind, it seemed a bit crazy. But I joined them by rolling down my window and extending a wave whenever I could. I figured that if all those people could stand out on the sidewalks in the rain, I could ride with the window down. The window stayed down the entire parade route. They were getting wet and I did too!

It was my second parade in as many years and once again, I had fun being involved.

When I was hanging with my family on Thanksgiving, I realized that I have been missing something over the last 20 years or so. There was a time when professional wrestling would invade the Greensboro Coliseum every Thanksgiving. A lot of those times I was there. Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA could always be counted on after a day full of turkey eating and lazing about.

The first wrestling matches that I ever attended were at the Greensboro Coliseum. I was probably about 8 or 9 years old and I desperately wanted to see Andre The Giant in person. I’m not sure, but I’m thinking that he was wrestling Big John Stud in a non-title match. My Dad took me and I remember riding with him to the Coliseum that night. I never really knew at the time that my father didn’t even like the stuff. So my hats off to him!

I remember seeing the Coliseum, as we got closer. It was lit up and it excited me to know that Andre The Giant was somewhere in that building with my other favorite wrestlers… Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones, Black Jack Mulligan, Wahoo McDaniels, and the Minnesota Wrecking Crew, Gene and Ole Anderson. It seemed bigger than life to me because I had only seen those guys on television.

I remember “midget” wrestlers performing that night as the crowd ate it up. And I remember my father pointing out the fact that a lot of times the wrestlers weren’t even hitting each other. I never cared about that because they were on TV and nothing but the news was real on television. I knew from watching every Saturday afternoon that often times things weren’t on the up and up inside the squared circle. I might have been a kid, but I was a skeptical little mofo.

I always dug the pageantry and the put on. It was big, loud, obnoxious, and it seemed to get out of control from time to time. To me, professional wrestling was my rock n’ roll. And since my mother hated it, I loved it even more.

I probably spent more than a half-dozen Thanksgivings at the Greensboro Coliseum for wrestling. One of my greatest memories goes back to “The Flair For The Gold” event. It was one of the first pay-per-view events where professional wrestling was concerned. It was being broadcast around the globe, to cable viewers, and to venues by closed-circuit television. It was big stuff back then, I think about 1983. Ric Flair wrestled Harley Race inside a 10-foot high steel cage. Flair’s bleached blonde hair was crimson when he was hoisted on the shoulders of his contemporaries with the “ten pounds of gold” held in his hands after the victory. It was his first of 16 World Titles and I can say that I was there.

The crowds were different back then. They weren’t as savvy and for the most part, the people often believed that everything was real. It’s a lot different today. The majority of the fans are in on the gag and we don’t care if it’s fake or not. The bottom line… It’s fun! And like any form of entertainment, it allows us to escape reality for a few hours.

I remember talking to a guy I worked with years ago… Willie asked me why I watched that fake stuff… He made sure to give me a condescending look when he said the word “fake”.

“What’s your favorite movie?” I asked.

Die Hard”, he replied.

“Well guess what, Willie…,” I said with a glint in my eye. “That movie isn’t real. Someone wrote it and they hired actors to play it out in front of the cameras. Die Hard is made up. Pure fiction. It’s entertainment, just like professional wrestling.”

I didn’t win him over and I didn’t expect too. I just wanted to make a point. And if I ever find some form of professional wrestling appearing on Thanksgiving in the future, I will be there!

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