My birthday is September 7 … Do the math!
A birthday present to myself. Red section at the historic Montreal Forum to witness Ted Nugent. A Ted Nugent who was known as a rock star – not a gun activist.
The three of us arrived in the afternoon at Atwater park, a patch of green across the street from the house ‘the Rocket’ built. Minutes from Ken Dryden’s old stompin’ crease …
Armed with tickets, a few bucks and an equal amount of beer – we sat in the park amongst pigeons and party people. The difference? Our feathered friends not allowed to see ‘the Nuge’!
As the cool Fall weather attempted to chill our enthusiasm, the beer and excitement quashed the negativity in the air. Mr. Nugent was at the height of his popularity.
‘Catch Scratch Fever’,’Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’ and ‘Stranglehold’ were some of the tracks that placed him there. At the moment, ‘Wango Tango’, a full throttle manic rock song – kept him there. His music was not for the faint hearted, making it all the more surprising that our Russian comrade enjoyed it.
As the beer flowed elegantly into our systems, others of the same rock mentality came and went. Marijuana cigarettes passed in friendship. ‘Joints’ dispersed like candy.
Sometime around six o’clock, a dude happened by. The type of guy who was at Woodstock and never left. His hair – long enough to trip himself and several small children passing by at the wrong moment.
L.S.D – acid.
The thirtiesh- looking man was a born salesman, at least – in his halucegenic mind he was. He spoke of the pleasures, ‘the utopian heights’ we would reach witnessing Nugent under the described conditions. Not only that …the drug was cheap!
Three- four- ten bucks or something similar…
Upon much reflection and trepidation, Ivan, ‘Frank’ and I decided what the heck. If you were going on a roller coaster anyways – may as well get on the biggest one possible!
We sat. We drank some more. All the while fingering this ‘fantastic drug’ in our adolescent hands.
“We need a plan!” Declared Ivan in his usual, although slurred stoic manner.
“Ya man … A plan …!” Agreed Frank through slanted eyes. His long black hair interrupting his non – vision.
” We got an hour before the show!” I said. Proud to be the bearer of good news.” I heard it takes one hour for this stuff to kick in …!”
“Perfect!” Said Ivan with as much enthusiasm as a man about to have a tooth pulled.” We do now!”
With those words, Ivan of Russian descent, unwrapped the tiny pill and deposited it into his system. Frank and I – no chance to say otherwise.
Frank gazed into my slits.
“What are you doing?” He inquired. “You taking it now …?”
“Dunno …?” I answered, not sure what I was responding to..
“If it takes an hour …” Frank started speaking fast. ” If we wait til 9pm, it will kick in for the encore! That way, we’ll be flying for Catch Scratch Fever and Wango Tango!” Frank was proud with his plan.
“Sounds good.” I replied, gazing at Ivan who was playing with a Dandelion. “Good idea …!”
The three of us made our way across the street and into the Forum. A carnival- like atmosphere taking place before our very beings. The red, white and blue of the colored seats adding a comfortable backdrop. Frisbees flew through the thick air. Air created by the hundreds of joints lit at once.
“Who cleans the Stanley Cup banners?” I wondered silently.
We sat in our seats and in the next twenty minutes – smoked what was probably too many ‘funny cigarettes’ for our weight divisions. Ivan was practically non- responsive at this point and Frank’s eyes; shadows of their former selves …
Mr.Nugent and his band took the stage amid screaming fans and fading lights.
The noise of the crowd deafened by his electric guitar. Songs, some familiar – others not so much exploded from the speakers into our virgin eardrums. The ‘event’, my birthday present was underway. I poked Ivan to ensure he was awake to witness it.
Tunes by the name of ‘Sweet Sally’ and ‘Live it up’ played although doubt circles my memory like vultures from an era gone by. Frank was up and down with the music while Ivan sat. He was breathing – aside from his chest heaving in and out, no signs of life emerged from his Russian form.
I glanced at my brand new ‘state of the art’ L.E.D. watch.
The numbers ‘8 5 5’ awakening my dormant irises. I nudged Frank who stood to my left, almost knocking him off his weakened stance.
“Man! It’s 9 o’clock …!” I said. ” Get out your acid!”
Frank smiled. His grin reaching the corners of his closed eye-lids. Without a word between us, we reached into our Jean jacket pockets. Frank discovered his tin foil first; unwrapping the minuscule tablet of chemicals.
“Ready?” He asked – the pill close to his dried- out tongue.
After pillaging all my pockets and coming up empty, I assumed my package had fallen to the floor. I took out my Rolling Stones- tongued lighter and started a search on the floor. Following several moments, the people sitting in front asked what I was doing. I explained my drug dilemma and became fodder for the foursome of teens before me.
” That’s not how you drop acid!” One of them yelled. ” Look guys – this guy dropped acid …right on the floor!”
As fast as it takes to cook eggs in a microwave, I became the entertainment for the second row in the red section. By now, several others had turned to get into the ‘fun’. One of the girls in front felt bad and removed her lighter to aid in my search.
Even Ivan started to chuckle …
Moments passed. My ‘halucegenic helper’ was gone.
Frank had enough and popped his pill into an already inebriated palate. The time? Approximately 9:30 pm.
The show ended around ten. Thundering applause exited Nugent from the stage. Moments later – the applause returned him. Everyone was standing except for Ivan. Not asleep, not quite awake. A suspended state is where he was at this point.
Frank was acting funny. The drug starting to take him to other concerts in his head. He was more energetic than I had seen him in the five years since we met. Ivan …? As silent as a mouse on Christmas eve …
Nugent returned. Swinging on a vine. Or maybe that was earlier …
The opening rifts of Wango Tango waking the tenants who lived down the street from the Forum. Lights slapping our faces from every direction.
“This is Rock n Roll!” I recall thinking.
The initial reaction subsided, some – taking to their seats to enjoy Nugents’ extra- curricular tunes. Most – enjoying an experience unlike others. The people in front and almost everywhere around us were sitting. It was quiet as the people took in the show. Frank was looking at the ceiling and whatever images appeared in his mind.
Out of the blue, it happened. An event so unlikely – a replay was needed and YouTube was missed.
Ivan, the tormented figure of emotional emptiness – stood. At the peak of his vocal powers a sound emitted like bats released from a cave.
” Woohoo!” He shouted. ” Wango …Fuckin the Tango!” His arms straight in the air like a football referee signaling a field goal.” Fuckin’ right man!”
With that- he sat.
I never heard or saw the boy move like that ever again. He did come close. A week later, with Ivan sitting on my bed, I discovered the crumpled tin foil hiding my acid.
“Woohoo!” Ivan said quietly. Hands by his side …