Sunday, July 12, 2009

It Was Thirty Years Ago Today . . .

It was thirty years ago today that I hopped the wall along the left-field line and ran around on the field at Comiskey Park during "Disco Demolition Night." I was fourteen years old.

After jumping the wall, it took me about ninety seconds to realize that I was in way over my head. I quickly headed back to my seat and watched the madness unfold. Eventually, scores of Chicago police officers in full riot gear cleared the badly damaged field, and the White Sox forfeited the second game of a double-header against the Detroit Tigers.

But I've gotten ahead of myself.

My brother Mark turned twelve on July 12, 1979. To celebrate his birthday, my mom decided to take her five boys -- then ranging in age from seven to fourteen -- to watch the White Sox play. (Mark has always been a huge Sox fan.) My mom had been widowed about nine months earlier, so even under the best of circumstances, an outing like this, with five kids in the station wagon, meant that she had her hands full.

Unlike me, my mother did not listen to Steve Dahl's morning radio show, so she had no idea that a radio promotion called "Disco Demolition Night" was on the bill between games. I didn't tell her about it because I thought she might cancel the trip from suburban Villa Park to 35th and Shields if she knew something potentially subversive was afoot.

Once we arrived at the ballpark, it had to be obvious to my mom that this was not a typical baseball crowd. It looked (and smelled) a lot more like a cross-section of the lawn at the Alpine Valley Music Theater during a Blue Oyster Cult/Nazareth twin-bill.

Toward the end of the first (and only) game that night, I left my family and wandered out to the left-field bleachers to take a look around. Folks throughout the park appeared to be pretty plastered.

Then, after the first game ended, Steve Dahl blew up a bunch of disco records, thousands of people stormed the field, and all hell broke loose.

As I said earlier, my adventure on the field lasted no more than ninety seconds. By the time I headed out there, people were flinging pieces of broken disco records like Frisbees. These scraps of broken vinyl, however, were more like ninja death stars, and I knew enough to get the hell back to my seat. I saw little honor in becoming a casualty in the "War On Disco."

Before leaving the park that night, I shelled out six bucks and bought myself a black "Disco Sucks" t-shirt to commemorate the event. My mom saw the shirt as soon as we got home, and she immediately cut it to pieces, telling me, "No son of mine is going to wear anything with the word 'sucks' on it. No son of mine is even going to use the word 'sucks.'"

Thirty years later, that t-shirt would probably fetch a few bucks on eBay. It's too bad -- in fact, it downright sucks (sorry, Mom) -- that I didn't get to keep that souvenir from "Disco Demolition Night."

Happy birthday, Mark.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Good King Rich (the music video)

Here's the music video for "Good King Rich," a song I penned right after Mayor Daley's recent trip to Switzerland.

Great thanks to the folks who helped me bring this tune to life.

GOOD KING RICH (words and music by Matt Farmer)

(Spoken Intro)
This is an open letter to the International Olympic Committee:

As you travel the world these next few months
Being wined and dined in five-star restaurants
In Madrid, Tokyo, and Rio De Janeiro, remember this:

You're upholding the proud tradition of your predecessors,
Many of whom allegedly accepted bribes
In exchange for awarding the 2002 Winter Games
To that paragon of urban virtue - Salt Lake City, Utah


Well, you can scrap that bid from old Madrid
Say adios to Spain
And just say no to Tokyo
With its fancy bullet train

And if you're ill at ease speakin' Portugese
Then Rio ain't your town
Oh, but Good King Rich, he'll scratch your itch
When he throws that cash around


Well, some folks say that it don't make sense
To hold the Games in the 312
They say our city's broke; schools are a joke
Well, friends, that just might be true

Oh, but Good King Rich, he'd rather fight than switch
You know how the story's gonna end
With all the King's family and all the King's friends
Lining their pockets again and again

(Repeat Chorus)

(Verse w/ tag)

From the two-flats and the bungalows
We applaud his every scheme
From a tax increase to a parking meter lease
He's helping us live the dream

Now with a wave of his hand and a line in the sand
He's gonna bring the Olympics home
So damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead
He's gonna get us a velodrome

We can't pay for salt when there's ice on the streets
But at least we'll have a velodrome

(Repeat Chorus (w/ tag))

Yeah, Good King Rich, he's gonna scratch your itch
When you bring those games to town