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Saturday Night at the Paradise

The Great Eye

I came to cut you up
Jan 29, 2004
Ultratitle was over for me, I didn’t have much going on and Greenie was bugging me to come up to Boston, see the house he and his wife had just bought, she had been nagging him for years to move away from Vegas, to quit being a degenerate gambler and to do something practical and reasonable with his time and money, so Greenie had finally relented and moved back to the east coast, he’d set up some wrestling school and was taking bookings of various talents to work small shows in New England. NEW was the tentative title for the operation, New England Wrestling, sounded good enough I guess, Greenie had talked my ear off for weeks about coming over and I’d fought him, I had Ultratitle I had the World Series of Poker, I had things going on.

“Come on you worthless prick, Garbage is going to be here Saturday night.” He said.

That broke me, that Scottish red-headed lass and her boys were enough to bend me to Greenie’s will.

I visited the school, told a bunch of fresh faced young kids that they’ll never be anything in the business, the usual bullsh*t that everyone needs to hear, I hope one day a decade from now someone from that class is holding some important title and he tells a crowd that Doc Silver told him he’d never make it, and well, F*ck you Doc I got the gold. That would be nice to see happen, not getting my hopes up, but stranger things have happened.

After that I manned the Gorilla position at a show and watched the kids flip and bump and maim each other and themselves, they were so green they were blue, but that is the business, you can’t cut corners with this stuff, everyone crawls before they walk. I gave them pointers as best I could...Can’t say any of them caught my eye as having anything special going on, but I’m a cynical old man, what do I know?

Show was over and Friday turned into Saturday and that meant heading into the heart of Boston and it’s awful parking situation, we got into town early since the Celtics were playing a game 7 and that would likely make traffic a nightmare any time around game time, took a taxi in, cause I might have money, but I’m also cheap about things, except tipping, I deal with too many dirtbags that don’t tip, so the cabbie gets paid good by me and it still costs me less than a limo.

We get to the Paradise early and get let in early, when you’re me you got pull and you can get favors like this called in. Greenie and I walk to the balcony section of the room, which is a tiny as hell little place for any band to perform in. I have no interest in being front row center and having a bunch of people pushing into my back for three hours, Anarky had already worked me over plenty, such things are the place of men far younger than me. Up here on the balcony is just fine by me. Greenie frantically texts with people as the doors open and the crowd fills in, the Celtics have just tipped off and he is in need of constant updates, I’d like to believe he’s just a Boston sports fan rooting on the local team, but I know odds are he’s got 5 grand on the under or some other such nonsense.

The crowd trickles in over the course of an hour and then finally a man in a suit along with a mannish looking woman hit the stage, the man announces himself as Dezera or something of the like, and tells the crowd that he gets that we’re all confused some random magician is opening for Garbage, he does a card trick which is really irksome since there’s a thousand people in the room and I doubt most of them can see the cards, after that he puts the man lady in a box and stabs the box with a truckload of umbrellas and then she pops out having not been murdered by the umbrellas, which was disappointing, I was hoping for a good umbrella based murder.

He then starts to swallow needles, which is impossible for the crowd to follow, since there is a thousand of us and needles are really friggin’ small, this man is doing magic you do on a street corner for tips in front of a thousand people, he is in short, a total moron, tragically Greenie’s wife made us lunch and whatever the hell she put in the chicken is punching me in the stomach something fierce.

“This is bad enough that I’m gonna use a concert bathroom.” I tell Greenie as I begin walking away. “What and miss this guy’s next trick?! I’m going to throw sh*t at Shirley till she and the guys flee the stage so he can come back out and do more magic!” he replies sarcastically. I wave my arm at him. “Kill anyone who tries to take my spot.” I say over my shoulder as I head down the steps.

The bathroom is as tiny and awful as I imagined it would be, I could likely have pulled some strings to get to the backstage bathroom, but this was urgent and I didn’t know exactly where they had such a thing, that and I didn’t really want find Duke or Butch in a stall having a horrible go of it, would kind of ruin the magic of the band if I had to look at Duke Erikson on stage and always remember he was the guy who turned some bathroom into a toxic waste site.

I hit the stall and sat there for a moment, I was sweating and I hoped it was from the heat of the building and not food poisoning, I sat there hoping to get the process over with as quickly as possible, that urge became even more intense when I heard a voice.

This voice was about 2/3rds date rapist 1/3rd pedophile, and he didn’t seem to care much about this fact.

“Hey boy take a look at me…Lemme dirty up your mind.” He sang in a gravelly toneless way that I’m sure, if Shirley Manson had heard it, she’d wished the boys had never found her and she’d just stayed in Scotland her whole life as some unknown struggling musician. “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” he said next, before all joy the band had ever given me was completely destroyed I finished up, left the stall, washed my hands and bolted back towards the concert room. I took my spot back without any incident, Greenie was a more intimidating presence than I'd hoped.

The Magician was cleaning himself off from having been hit with a sledge hammer or something, I’m sure it was truly incredible, but I missed it, he then did some rather obvious “Trap you into picking a word I can then guess by rapping off a few letters.” Trick, then got hit with a pie, and then finished the card trick he started his gig with and left to middling applause.

Roadies then milled about the stage for a half hour or so, guitars were strummed, drums were played, various and sundry places where a wire could be run were pointed to and likely had wires run through them, the whole process of making sure things didn’t suck had begun in earnest.

Then they took the curtains off the drug set which got a cheer from the crowd, a larger looking bald roadie came out and that tricked a bunch of people into thinking Steve had just come on stage, large bald roadie got a solid pop for looking like a band member, but that diminished when it was clear he wasn’t Steve, then finally real Steve along with real Duke and real Butch hit the stage, they along with real touring bassist took their places for a few moments before real Shirley came out to the mic and with that were into “Supervixen.” And then a barrage of songs, the band seemed determined to pump out as many songs in this set as possible, Shirley would drink a little water between songs but that was about it.

God she has stage presence. You can’t sell that sh*t either, you gotta earn it. She’s been doing this her whole life it seemed, she makes eye contact with the crowd so well, all her dancing and gestures sell the songs, she’s telling you how much she cares, how much she’s enjoying it. I admire her.

I feel that way when I stand in that ring and I glare at that crowd and I can feel the hatred, know they resent me for slaying their hero, that they want me to get what’s coming to me, that my defeat, my blood is what they demand. I love it, I live for it.

Thing is Shirley’s as old as I am, at least she’s around it, and she could do this for 20 more years, even if ageism is horrible in this world and old women are supposed to just go away, but physically I doubt those pipes will ever fail her, I on the other hand shouldn’t be in the ring again in my life, My body is a complete wreck, I shake my head and think how lucky singers are as performers, every man in the band has me by a decade or so and they are bopping around like nobody’s business, my back tightens up just thinking about dancing for 90 minutes.

There’s that fact and also the fact that she’s not the villain, she’s the hero and we live through her, this is a tiny venue, you can tell the crowd is folks who paid scalpers or bought tickets the second they went on sale, all the songs have so many people singing along, the crowd is the backing vocals, this is hardcore Garbage fans in an intimate setting seeing their band on stage and they revel in it.

I think about it, some bingo hall or other tiny venue in New York or Philly, maybe 1,200 people tops, me against Eli Flair…Man that would be an event, that would be epic…You can sell out arenas, stadiums whatever you want, pack 50,000 people into a building, and it’s nice, oh it’s fun to gaze into that sea of humanity…But sometimes you just want a tiny crowd of violent angry people who are howling for your blood, who NEED your blood the way these people need Shirley to sing to them.

I’d have to take a dive in that match, I beat Eli there odds are the crowd would kill me before I’d get to the back. I’m pretty sure that the “If Doc Wins We Riot” sign wouldn’t just be some cute internet smark remark, but the honest truth of what would happen if that was the result.

Or maybe I’d fight Castor in Lowell, he likes the place, or Dan Ryan in some redneck bar in Texas, Mike Manson in Chicago. The Doc Silver tiny show tour, coming to your legend’s hometown soon. I smile at the idea, I bet more than a few of those bastards would want to kick my ass in such a setting.

The band quits powering through the set long enough for Shirley to tell us she can’t believe how awesome we are and that she honestly means it, that she knows everyone says this sh*t and it’s cliché but she really does mean it. It doesn’t feel like an act with her, she wears her emotions so freely that you can feel it with her, she’d make a hell of a manager, she could turn a humorless sack of sh*t into a star in our business.

She teases a fan after saying they are going to play a song from 1998, that the fan “Wasn’t even born then.” The girl says she was 5 at the time, Shirley declares her “f*cking adorable.” And they play “Special.”

The songs blend, the vibe is excellent, they finally get to “Only Happy When It Rains” which, let’s be honest, I’m blowing up the tour bus if these f*ckers don’t give me my song, Shirley sings the opening lines practically a cappella, a guitar can be heard in the background slightly, before finally the band really cranks it up in the “Pour your misery down on me.” bridge. I’ve heard the song live countless times, I like the new set up for it, the crowd roars the whole song, it is an anthem and it is epic to hear it in this fashion. I’m lucky this is my band is all I can think as the music washes over me. I am content in this moment, the wrestling business, poker, my useless wife, all the world doesn’t matter to me at all, it’s just this crowd, this band, my experience and it is so beautiful I can’t even properly describe it to you.

I guess I’m Only Happy When It Rains.

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