Saturday, August 6, 2011

Part 25, Disco Demolition

I've always been more of a glam rocker.
This was going to be an in-depth analysis of Ed Wallerstein's book Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy, but it appears that the only copy of it at my library has been misshelved.  Therefore this will be a post about the death of Disco.

But it relates to Wallerstein's book, I promise.  It might take me until Post 26, but I assure you it will relate.

I started college at the absolute zenith of American Disco mania.  All the college dances they used to play Disco, and nothing but Disco.  "Boogie Fever," "Disco Inferno," the 20-minute Donna Summer disco cover of "MacArthur Park."  You could not escape Disco.  There were Disco movies, Disco TV Shows, Disco clothing and accessories.  Roller rinks started converting into roller discos.  Seemed like every celebrity whose career ever hit a slow patch would take a shot at Disco-- Cher, Kiss, ABBA, Frankie Valli, Rod Stewart, Leif Garret, Kristy and Jimmy McNichol, Ethel Merman.  The list goes on and on.

I remember I was in the car with my Mom during Winter break my freshman year in college.  She said to me, "Mark my words, one day you'll wake up, and it'll be like this Disco stuff never happened.  That stuff will just die.  You'll get up in the morning and turn on the radio and go to work, and that stuff will be gone.  People will forget all about it.  They'll pretend like they never went in for all that crazy Disco stuff."

(I cleaned up that quotation for family audiences.  My mother rarely used the word "stuff.")

Now fast forward to the evening of July 12, 1979.  It was the summer before my sophomore year in college.  B. and I were sitting up in his dorm room chatting and drinking BEER.  He was working on the campus clean up crew that summer.  That's how he happened to be living in the dorms during the summer break.

Well, we hear a knock on the door, and we go open the door, and there's our buddies Joe and Mohammed, who'd also been working on the clean up crew, so they were living in the same dorm there with B.

Joe and Mohammed come in and help themselves to a couple of BEERs and tell us this crazy story about how they'd just left a riot in Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox.

"It was awesome!"  Joe said.  "Steve Dahl blew up like a million Disco records in center field, and everybody went crazy!  Then the cops just started busting people for no reason at all.  We didn't want to get caught with weed, so we cut out."

"The cops bust people for weed at Comiskey?" I said.  "Since when?  People smoke weed in the stands at Comiskey all the time."

"Well, we weren't in the stands," Joe said, "we were down on the field."

"You were what?!"

"Well, the records blew up, and there was fire and stuff, and we stormed the field.  Everybody did.  It was awesome!"

I guess I can see how it might have seemed like good idea at the time.

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