Almost one year to the day before Edward Van Halen died, I texted a friend whom I was pretty sure would know the answer to a question that had been troubling me for some time.
I knew going into last Thursday night’s Van Halen concert that, based solely on the size of the venue, I’d be fairly close to the stage … but I didn’t know I’d be THIS close:
(I also didn’t know that the band was picking up everyone’s bar tab … which is a shame, because, had I found that out prior to the end of the show, I’m certain I could have done a hell of a lot more damage than a mere three bottles of Sam Adams. Just sayin’.)
Photo by Jon Zal
Originally published on Jan. 6, 2012 at SoundSpike.com
Halfway through Van Halen’s blistering Thursday night (1/5) set at New York City’s Cafe Wha?, reinstated frontman David Lee Roth posed a question to the crowd: “Have you noticed that Van Halen fans have decided they’ve had a great time [at the show], like, three weeks in advance?”
Look, I appreciate your concern, but, really, I’m OK. He’s not going to hurt me again.
Yes, I know it’s not the first time he’s said he’d change … not the first time he’s said it won’t happen again … that he’ll stop drinking … that I can trust him … that he really loves me. I know.
As anyone who has spent more than 60 seconds in my presence can tell you, I have several yarns I like to spin about exciting moments I have had with the members of Van Halen. The man standing between my wife and me in the photo above is Kevin Dugan, a good friend to whom I owe a great deal of credit for quite a few of those experiences—the latest of which took place last week, and buried the needle deep into the red on the “OMFG-That-Was-So-Cool!”-ometer.
On the first day of the first class of my freshman year in college, my College Writing 101 professor instructed us to go home that weekend and write a paper about the person whom we would most like to meet if given the chance.
And I could have bullshitted him. I could have written about wanting to meet JFK or Martin Luther King Jr. or some other revered, sociopolitical icon … but I wasn’t an 18-year-old freshman just out of high school; I was a 22-year-old freshman who had recently spent nearly four years in the Army, and my inclination to sling bullshit in order to impress a college professor was, by that point, quite nonexistent. And as I looked down at the blank notebook in front of me that weekend, I saw stretching out before me four long years of higher education … and I knew that the only way I was going to make it to the finish line was to figure out how to marry my own personal interests to my academic pursuits.
So I wrote the “I want to meet Eddie Van Halen” paper.