Erlich is awesome.
Hannibal really likes his apple juice..
It’s an often joked about topic, and die-hard fans of something can have problems explaining why they are so passionate about what they love. So much that It looks “crazy” to a person who doesn’t share their enthusiasm. However, genuine fans of music, sports, comics, or whatever, should not have to defend their enjoyment of something because you don’t like it.
Amusingly, I learned this lesson not from a wise old art collector or retired sports guy, but teenage New Kids On The Block Fans who were “first” in line for tickets at the Philadelphia Spectrum in 1990.
Let’s set the scene first. I was a 20 year old college dropout who decided Grateful Dead tour was more educational for me than school. Me and a good friend packed up my ‘79 Volkswagen bus, and spent a few weeks driving to cities in the northeast to see their concerts. We camped through a three night run in Philadelphia up in Valley Forge at a closed YMCA campground (the rates were awesome!). On the last night in Philly, we managed to pull into the lot at "spot number one". Basically directly in front of the doors to the venue. While this was great for show access and after show soda/cig sales, the actual “scene” aka Shakedown, was way over in a far lot, so any of the “real” partying would be happening there.
We ate some mind-altering drugs and went inside for another incredible night of music. Afterwards, we ran out and sold out of our wares in short order, then packed up the van and made our way over to the big party in the other lot. We must have stayed a bit too long, because when we returned my vehicle was the only one left in this lot.
We returned to the van with some nitrous balloons, cued up some Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and huffed away inside the van. After only a few short minutes I noticed a bunch of flashing lights on a pair of trucks nearby, headed straight towards us.
"Get down!" I yelled, and we both ducked to the floor of the van out of sight of security. However, the cacophony from the ELP tape was still totally blaring away. Two security trucks circled my van, lights swirling around inside the vehicle, insane music playing way too loud, and me sucking on a balloon of gas. That was probably one of the most freaked out scenes I’ve ever experienced, but it was definitely one I’ll never forget. They kept circling for a few minutes, made a few exclamations to leave over their PA, and then just.. drove away? Maybe they thought there was a couple doing it inside? I don’t know. They just left! We laughed a bit then finished those balloons and opened the side door to prep for departure.
Then I heard a young girl giggle. I looked around and didn’t notice anyone at first, but then I saw about 6 girls, all in lawn chairs with blankets, walkmans and notebooks, watching our insanity unfold like a bad TV show.
"What the hell are you doing sitting there?" I asked. I just didn’t understand why a bunch of teenage girls would be left in a Philly lot like that. Waiting for a ride? No, they all have chairs and stuff. I approached even more confused.
"We’re waiting in line for tickets!" one of them shouted.
You could tell by the snickering that they found my long mullet and goofy tie-dye amusing. I follow-up with the obvious “Tickets for what?!” and in a group response they all yelled in unison;
"What? When do tickets go on sale?"
"but.. it’s Wednesday?!"
"Yeah, but we will be first in line!"
"You kids are crazy, sitting here all that time just for some tickets." I said in a dismissive tone. I didn’t realize how hypocritical I was being, so one of them pointed it out to me.
"Yeah? Where are you from? It doesn’t sound like you’re from Philly."
"We’re from Rochester, NY."
"You drove all the way here from Rochester, to see a concert?"
"Well, no. We drove here to see three concerts, and we came from Cleveland where we just saw them twice."
I realize in my head how absurd that probably sounded to someone who “didn’t get it”, but that was her point. I was an idiot.
"So you dress up in those funny shirts and drive all around the country in your sweet pickles bus to see a bunch of old guys play the same songs.. and we’re crazy?"
"But they dont play the.."
"What makes you any different from us?? We love this band, we listen to them and talk about them all the time. We wear their t-shirts, and put posters on our wall and will do almost anything to see them. How are you any different from that?"
That sounded incredibly familiar, but no.. they are talking about a “shitty boy band” and I am talking about the Good ol’ Grateful Dead.
"Well, we like good music..” I said with a snicker.
"What makes *your* music good? Who’s to say your old hippie music is any better than what we like?”
Another stepped in, “You can’t because it’s an opinion.”
and then the littlest girl who had been watching the two “main arguers” debate this with me said something like:
"We all dont have to like the same stuff. If it makes *you* happy that’s great. NKOTB makes *us* happy, and that’s great, too. Why does one have to be better than the other?”
Yep… completely owned by a teenage NKOTB fan. Check mate.
We compared likenesses of our fanaticism for a little bit, and then the big mean security trucks with the flashy lights came back and threatened us. I think they were trying to proctect the little girls from the crazy hippies or something. They kicked us out of the lot so we drove towards New York City, to see three more concerts but that interaction has obviously stuck with me for 20+ years. And now whenever I see/hear something I dont like, that’s fine because it’s probable that someone else loves it.
Just because I don’t like it, doesn’t give me the privilege of shitting all over it.
We’re all a bit different, we never all going to like the same things. Just appreciate what you love, and maybe respect the opinions of the people who love stuff you don’t because you aren’t any different than them.