Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins have a chance to win the Stanley Cup against the Nashville Predators (I know, weird right?) and repeat as champions of the NHL for the second straight year. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact I’m cheering my beloved Pens through their 4th Stanley Cup Finals since I moved to Pittsburgh and 6th of my lifetime.
Last year the Pens won Game 6 on the road in San Jose and with the same scenario repeating itself in Nashville I was thinking back to that night. The Pens hosted a viewing party which allowed Teaspoon and I to be at the arena and cheer along as Pittsburgh won the Cup but it wasn’t just that which made the night memorable. Here’s a video from last year I can chalk up to posts I wanted to make but never did and one of the best nights we’ve ever had.
There is a wave of posts taking over Facebook where people list 10 concerts they’ve been to and one is a lie. It’s a fun distraction to all of the political nonsense being spewed even if it’s fake news and you know you agree with me.
You’re on one of 2 sides of this, either you like it and are participating or you have sand in your gutchies and whine how stupid it is when really you’re upset someone isn’t sharing/commenting on your political posts because GAAAAHHHH TRUMP or GAAAAAAHHH ANTI TRUMP. If you have no opinion either way then good for you, here is a cookie. Watch the fireworks.
My first concert was The Monkees at Chautauqua Amphitheater in 1986. When I was 14 my parents sent me solo, a scrawny little kid in a private school letterman jacket, to a Public Enemy concert by myself. Needless to say I stood out… because I was 14. What did you think?
Live music was important to me growing up and I fear the kids today are losing an appreciation for music that isn’t auto-tuned or some God awful mash up.
There’s something to be said about sitting in a field on a blanket with your friends and listening to music all day. Putting away the phone, cracking open a beer you just snuck in (lord knows concert beers are crazy expensive) and getting lost in the music.
Some of the best moments are usually getting there and back home when you’re traveling for a show. Like that time we missed out on floor seats for Metallica in Cleveland because someone left the tickets in Erie or getting pulled over in the deep woods of PA on the way back from a NIN concert because a tail light was out and the cop says “we don’t take kindly to you city folk out here…” *spit* or hotel hallway drag races with room chairs in Buffalo.
Here is my list along with the answer.
Puddle of Mudd
2003 – TERRIBLE live band. They played the Rolling Rock Town Fair along with Blink-182, 311, Def Leppard, Sum 41, Saliva, Trapt and The Clarks. They were so bad they got booed off the stage.
I worked for them for 10 years so I won’t even count how many times I’ve been to shows.
Saw them first during their 1st Farewell tour during the 90s and have seen them a few times since. INCREDIBLE live show even if you don’t like the music.
Pearl Jam Hahahahahaha how could anyone seriously pick them. Favorite band of all time. Best show was in 2006 when Bob and I were 3 rows from the stage.
1995 at Starlake in Pittsburgh. He played with Bad Company and while Uncle Teddy was thrashing out Stranglehold a bad storm came through with lightning in the background. He continued to play his solo. Most incredible live show moment ever. Well besides something I did while sitting in floor seats for Pink Floyd in 94.
1994 and 1997. The ’97 show was the infamous Pittsburgh concert where they showed a porno after Cheap Trick’s set and were banned from playing here ever again. Mario, Jamie and I were 10ft from the stage.
2005 Front row PNC Park with Pearl Jam opening. Ron Wood shaked his money maker in my wife’s face and Mick Jagger sang to us. Kinda creepy but I became a Stones fan that night.
1987 BAD tour in Pittsburgh. Love or hate him it was one heck of a show.
Well that brings us to the band I haven’t seen live, Soundgarden. Anyone who knows me might find that as a surprise since I’m a huge Soundgarden fan and my spoon name comes from one of their songs. I’ve seen Matt Cameron with Pearl Jam for years and I’ve seen Chris Cornell but I’ve never seen the entire lineup together. I had tickets a few years ago when they finally came back to town but our sitter got ill and wife was at work so I was stuck with seats to a band I admired for over 20 years. Someday maybe…
I was debating making a post about Dad’s anniversary which was earlier this month. Over the years I think I’ve been able to express the hurt and emotional roller coaster his passing caused and now I focus on celebrating being a dad.
This year his anniversary came during the week so the boys and I made a trip to Erie to visit Mom for the weekend. Amazingly it was a weekend where there wasn’t any snow up north which really is a mystery. Don’t worry, they have over a foot of snow on the ground now.
I was psyched for Saturday. I crowd sourced to find out where I could go as a solo parent with 2 boys and we ended up going to two venues that I have never visited.
First stop caters to every 80s/90s mall rat sweet spot, Play Port Arcade! My kids know what video games are but they’ve never really seen an arcade since the business is almost extinct. Growing up in Erie I spent every quarter I could get my hands on at Red Baron arcade in the Millcreek Mall. There was also TILT but you only went there when the Baron was filled.
Play Port is quite possibly the best deal I’ve ever seen for a fun activity, $10 gets you over 100 arcade games, free throw game, air hockey, billiards, foosball and old OLD school bowling game that requires you to roll a ball on free play for 3 hours plus a round of glow golf! This was childhood explosion for me with the Mortal Kombat series, Kangaroo and AfterBurner. Oh yeah, and they have Contra!
After a quick breather I ran out to get pizza for the kids and my mom while I made a pit stop at a drunk food mecca of my college drinking days, the greek dog home known as Coney Island Lunch. The food is inexpensive, you can eat a lot and, well it’s like the White Castle of Erie. Hotdogs are around $1.00 and are served first with onions on the sides of the meat missile and then bathed in a beef sauce which is has a chili consistency with a spicy nip. Again, food you should never eat sober. Now image that covered on fries. Welcome to my neighborhood.
Now it was time for the big surprise, I picked up tickets for the kids and myself to attend a pajama party viewing of Polar Express at the Experience Children’s Museum in Erie. Growing up I don’t recall there ever being much for kids in town but living in Pittsburgh we have become rabid fans of museums, science and art. Especially the Children’s Museum.
I spoke with a few volunteers who said this was something new they were trying and were thrilled with the turnout. From a parent’s perspective the staff was very welcoming, the museum was filled with bright colors and had interactive displays to make science relating to the area a fun adventure. The city is on Lake Erie so the theme was heavy on water which my kids loved. Following the movie Santa arrived to talk to each child and present them with a small gift of a bell which my kids loved and rang and rang and rang and rang and STILL ring to this day.
Sunday our trip concluded with breakfast at The Breakfast Place which is in the former home of Urbaniak Meats a.k.a. my first job. I was 15 and cutting meats, cleaning saws, cutting chickens and scrubbing dishes. You can see where my early BBQ passion came from now eh? After a hearty meal we drove to the cemetery to see Dad.
Unlike previous trips this one hit me hard and the boys realized it. They both hugged me while my oldest asked me about my favorite memories with their Pop-Pops. We walked around and visited other relatives of mine and I continued to tell stories. The blessing in disguise while walking around was finally locating the grave of my buddy Marc who passed away 5 years ago. His Grateful Dead stone is a fitting tribute to a man who was always on a long strange trip but found the best in everyone and everything.
We dropped Mom off and made one more stop before leaving, a visit to my childhood best bud Mario. Getting together has been difficult over the years since we both have active families and in fact his daughter was getting ready for her basketball game when we arrived. My boys played with his kids while we kicked back and tried to realize how the hell life happened so fast. One day we were driving around in his dad’s truck blasting Motley Crüe on our way to a Eastway Billiards and now we’re in our 40’s talking about raising kids.
I can’t say the trip brought me any more closure with my Dad’s passing but it did put a smile on my face to see my kids enjoy my hometown.
**This is from a post I made on Facebook earlier this week and was asked by several people to make public so they could share it. I found it only fitting that I republish it on here as well.**
“Tuesday night before I went on the air I found out a friend of mine I went to UPT with, and reconnected within the last couple of years, committed suicide earlier this month. We had talked about our kids and got caught up on the last 20 years. Everything seemed fine but is wasn’t.
I’d see posts sharing the suicide hotline and think “Do people REALLY need that on Facebook? No one I know would call that. They already know who to call.”. Well, I was wrong. When I got the call that night my first thought was “Fuck me, that’s one of us. He was the strong one.” I’m still in disbelief since I talked to him recently too.
If you find yourself down, especially with the holidays which can be a real kick to the balls, know that there is someone you can talk to – Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255. Heck, shoot me a message and I’ll give you my cell. We can meet up.
I’m not asking for condolences or “sorry to hear about your friend.”, just share the number above. There’s more going on behind the “hey look how great my life is” posts. Stop being so angry at everyone and take a minute to see who could use a friend.”
Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of photos from college so I can’t share visual memories with my friend but I have memories. I hope he has found peace to whatever caused so much pain.
I remember my first Pitt game as a kid. The energy of the crowd at the old Pitt Stadium, the intensity of the game… I could feel the hatred for PSU grow inside of my 11yr old frame as the Panthers shut out the Nittany Lions. It was at that moment I knew I was going to, and did end up at, Pitt.
Once the rivalry ended in 2000 my emotions towards Penn State diminished and even after the renewal this year kicking off with Pitt’s upset 42-39 win, I find getting worked up over anything sports related as humorous (unless it’s the Flyers. God I hate Philly.)
Twenty nine years later I’m taking my boys to their first Pitt football game but at Heinz Field and for the last game of the season against Syracuse. Not really a big rival, in fact the stadium was barely 1/2 full, but they’re small enough that this would be a good environment to test the waters. Wait. Did I just say that? *UGH* I’m becoming THAT parent.
We were invited with friends of ours to the game which had the added perk of going out on the field for pre-game. Yeah, kids first game and they get on the field. We watched warmups, I explained to my boys the story of fellow Erie native James Conner fighting back from Hodgkin lymphoma to become a top draft prospect and how on Sunday the Steelers play here.
Teaspoon: “Will Big Ben (Roethlisberger) be here?”
Teaspoon: “Oh, well maybe he’s tailgating with Uncle Bob?”
Me: “Good chance.”
Teaspoon: “Yeah I bet he likes a lot of burgers and dogs.”
First impressions of a Pitt game by the boys:
Those girls dancing look cold. They should wear jackets or they’ll miss school
Why are there ketchup bottleeeeeOMG THEY POUR KETCHUP ON THE SCOREBOARD!
PANTHER HAAAAAAAATTTTTTTT!!!!!! (see below)
(while in the bathroom) OMG YOU PEE IN A BATH TUB!
“We need more popcorn!” as the bottomless bucket was refilled twice
LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE DRUMS! – Cheeseburger. “What? No guitars? How can you have a band without guitars?” – Teaspoon
The temps at game time were a balmy 35 degrees and didn’t change for the rest of the day.
We made it until Halftime before finally caving and heading back with Pitt leading 35-21 and little did we know the scoring blitz wasn’t over. By the end of the game Pitt would win 76-61. You’re reading that correctly. SEVENTY SIX TO SIXTY ONE!
The boys asked if we could come back for more games next season so it looks like I’ll be busy on Stub Hub (seriously, tickets on the 50 are sometimes $6-$10) next season. Attention span is short at their age so making it until half time is a good milestone for us.