Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's the end of an era... you might say - RIP Philadelphia's Spectrum

"She glances at the photo, and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes."  ~Frank Deford

Oh Spectrum, the stories you could tell. Anyone who grew up in the Philly area from 1967 on has most likely been to a concert, Flyers game, Phantoms game, or some other type of event at the Spectrum. Pearl Jam played the last concert there in 2009 but still it stood, like a forgotten friend, in the shadows of the Comcast Spectacor/FU/Wachovia/Well's Fargo Center (or whatever it's called now) and the Linc and Citizens Bank Park. It was the place to go and growing up in the 70's & 80's believe me, we went.

I remember my first time there - obviously before my serious clown-phobia kicked in - was to see the circus. It was huge and busy and something was going on in every corner of the place. But of course my brother and I were more interested in seeing the elephants take a crap then in the highwire acts lol. 

We didn't have a lot of money growing up (tho I didn't know it...ever) so I'm not sure how mom & dad managed the tickets but they did. My first taste of the Spectrum. And my last circus. Now you couldn't pay me to go to one.

After that it was 1976 and John Denver in concert for my 13th birthday. (i'll wait while you do the math.....

done? YES that makes me 47 years old UGH! anyway...) Just mom and i went to this one and it was the coolest thing ever! John Denver, right down there on stage singing. I knew he could see me way up in nosebleed section. I just knew it. 

Man that was one of my favorite gifts. What?? I was 13 and so not cool...I am way cooler now. Really.I am... ok fine! Maybe not but I like to think I am! So humor me!

Then the infamous sneak away concerts... you know the deal - 15 years old - you tell your parents your going to stay at so & so's house- in my case it was Denise Zawacki's house - and instead you take a train from Paoli to Philly and the subway to the stadium complex. It was 1978-79 and believe me it was much safer back then. Anyway 5 of us girls sneaking into philly to see Heart in concert at the Spectrum. Most of us weren't allowed to go you see, because as every one knew, Heart was a band made up of Charles Manson followers and they worshiped the devil. Yep, that's seriously what our parents believed and why they said we couldn't go. But Denise and I just had to be cool and sneak off and we got away with it too.

Come to think of it - that may have also been the year I lost my virginity too..LOL we'll blame that on the evil teachings of Heart as well.  I still have the concert baseball sleeved t-shirt I bought. Of course I said my friend at school bought it for me.

Next, later that same year was the Doobie Brothers. God that dreamy Michael McDonald and my personal favorite, lead guitarist Patrick Simmons. 

We didn't have to sneak to this one, since both my parents were big fans of the Doobies. But we did sneak in on the train again. When we got there our four floor seats were separated by the huge sound mixer machine so we asked the security guard if we could be moved back a few rows so we could sit together. I'll never forget him saying follow me and we'll fix this. Next thing we knew, we were in the first row.  On the floor.   Directly under Michael McDonald's key board. Close enough, and I swear I am not exaggerating, to reach up and touch his foot if we wanted too. Fan-friggin-tastic. We were on the end over towards the left of the stage sitting next to security - a bunch of cute ass guys if I remember, but we were only interested in the Doobie Brothers. At one point, Patrick Simmons reached over and handed me a carnation he had been wearing in his lapel. I mean seriously , if your a 15yr old girl, does it get any better then that? Hell this 47 year old girl would have loved it too LOL!!

Then there were the Flyers games. The seats in Wachovia (whatever) now are better then the Spectrum but you can't beat the history in the Spectrum. Thats where we won the cup for God's sake. 

My best friend Brian's mom had season tickets to the games and would let me use a pair of tickets to impress whoever I was interested in at the moment. The one that sticks out was John Carrigan...ahhh handsomest boy in school. A senior when I was a Junior or a Jr when i was a soph... either way he drove and was older. And did i mention handsome? LOL I mean really what guy will say NO when you ask him to a Flyers game. Ranks up there with one of my best dates ever!! (Sorry John Carrigan if you're reading this but I did have a major high school crush on you LOL) I still remember him calling the house to tell me to dress warmly since it would be cold. Um Hello! Does it get any sweeter then that to a 16yr old girl? I also remember all the people and thinking Please God don't let me get lost cause I will never find him again LOL. 

John Carrigan does real estate now so if you are looking for a Realtor in southeastern PA look him up and use him. http://www.johnnycrealestate.com/ Hey if he has to read about my high school crush on him the least I can do is give him some free marketing!

So many memories - I saw Phil Collins there and remember getting goosebumps when he sang In the Air tonight. That was after I got married and had the kid. A fun date night for me and the hubby. And then the last time I was there, was in 1998 I believe. To see Bush! God I loved that band - Please,  Gavin Rossdale? Good God he was yummy!! 

Every song on that damn album spoke to me. Razorblade Suitcase. Machinehead was my jam  ♫Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out♫

That became my mantra when I was going thru the divorce and custody bullshit.BREATHE! Hell it still is!  I even got a personalized license plate when my divorce became final that said breathe out. well it said BRTHOUT which some people thought meant Birth out - but that's a whole other story LOL.My friend Dan Gross and I and the guy I was so in love with at the time Rich all went and spent the night outside in line for tickets. It was February. Yeah... I know. But it was on my bucket list of things to do after my divorce and I did it. Dan, my dear dear friend, probably doesn't remember too much of it. LOL We left a birthday party for my roommate Christine to head down to Philly and while Rich and I decided early on to stay somewhat sober, Dan was a late addition to our adventure and drank like a champ pouring Dan Gross drinks at the party. It was worth it tho - we froze our asses off and met some fantastic people and 13 hours outside in the cold scored us some killer seats to see a group we all loved.

So yeah, a little wistful at the thought of losing such a fantastic place but I'm happy that I have so many fantastic memories from there. Because while the Spectrum falls down and gets carted away, my memories will never fade.  RIP Philadelphia Spectrum! Thanks for all the good times


  1. You made me cry a bit. I seriously hurt today. I am only 30 so I had a few less years of Spectrum memories, but I had enough to know that Philly will not look the same as we are flying in without the Spectrum there!

    I spent many a Flyer's game there with my father. I also saw the circus there and some halloween scarefests. I was a Phantoms Season Ticket Holder for 5 years before they moved out of town (including during the NHL lockout) and spent much of my year there making amazing friends and drinking down at Bullies.

    That building was a huge part of my childhood, a larger part of my 20's and a place that holds nothing but wonderful memories. I hate that it is gone. I know its silly to be sad about a building but I really really am.

    I think I'm more upset that with the economy the way it is I just don't see this whole Philly Live thing coming to fruition any time soon...so what...we just have an empty space? Grrr.

    So thanks for writing such a nice memorial for a building that was a wonderful bright spot in my life and the lives of most Philly natives.

  2. awww i'm sorry jewels. I didn't mean to make you cry. but I do know what you mean. I couldn't watch it. I felt like yet another important part of my childhood was fading away.

  3. I cry all the time...it's okay! :-)
    I gave you a shout out on my blog "ABC's of Thanks" under the letter Q for quotes...hope you get some extra traffic from it. :-)

  4. thanks Jewels. Sorry - just seeing this comment!