The New Haven Coliseum had a steel-girder parking lot bolted to the top of it. Access to or descent from this rust-colored, erecter-set-looking mesa could only be achieved by spiraling around one of two corkscrew ramps that squatted to either side of its rectangular length. Perched next to the coliseum on four, twenty-three-storied smokestack pillars was the Knights of Columbus Building, replete in the same lusterless brown shade. Taken together, they appeared to be a sort of Pink-Floydian acid eclipse spawned from the pages of Frank Herbert's Dune .
I saw my first concert there. Yes, in February of 1974. I was thirteen at the time and in the care of my older brother, John, along with his friend, Butch, both of whom were high on mescaline. Deemed too young for hallucinogens, I was condemned to Mexican marijuana but, given Yes's trippy stage set willowing to Rick Wakeman's synthesized stroking, both my brother and Butch barely budged throughout the entire show, and I couldn't help but wonder just who was watching who.
Yes was followed by Traffic at the same venue some months later, then Jethro Tull at the Nassau Coliseum, after which my concert-going blended into a bevy of artists from Black Sabbath to Neil Young, including both Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden in 1975.
It was in November of that same busy year that we took a family excursion to catch Bob Dylan and his Rolling Thunder Review, again at the Coliseum. Included were my mom and her boyfriend, my younger brother, Mark, and even my sister, Denise, who was the eldest--everyone but John, in fact, who had little use for folk music, his tastes more inclined towards Jimmy-Page thrashing and Alice-Cooper anarchy.
We drove in from our home in Bridgeport, just twenty miles southwest of New Haven down the Connecticut Turnpike, our winter jackets brimming with weed, wine, and cigarettes.
The weed was a family sideline, and a lucrative one at that. My mom and her rather shady beau would buy Mexican marijuana by the pound in Scottsdale, Arizona, and then fly it back in two huge suitcases on commercial airlines. Those were some right friendly skies back then.
I ditched the family during the first half of the show, even though I wasn't much interested in the slew of narcotics being offered throughout the venue. I had cooled on acid by this time--had indeed graduated to heroin, chipping on weekends--and certainly had no interest in the various forms of speed or bathtub PCP floating about, no matter what they called the latter.
Rather, I was checking out girls, and too damn hip, I supposed, to be hanging out with the family, even if some were smugglers and dealers. Being a baby dealer cancelled out the cool component of having a parent involved in same. My dealing was only made possible by adults who dealt much more massive quantities above and around me, an actuality I chose to ignore.
The Rolling Thunder Review...
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