Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hell's Parking Lot

[Photo borrowed from Allston Dave's New England Patriots Page. For purposes of this story, picture everyone in AC/DC t-shirts, extremely stoned, one fist raised in the air, index and pinkie fingers extended skyward.]


"I would rather have someone step on my balls than see another concert here."

Those were my exact words to Fast Freddy Goodman as we sat in his SUV on Route One in Foxborough. And I wasn't exaggerating, either. The pain in my testicles, from having them trod upon, would have been long gone by the time it took us to get home.

Fast Freddy and I had just seen AC/DC at Gillette Stadium.

(I think that "just seen" is far too nebulous a way of putting it, considering the concert had ended two-and-a-half hours before uttering the remark concerning my gonads. However, let it stand. I wasted three-and-a-half hours of my life getting home last night, and I don't feel like wasting more time searching for better terminology.)

Shall I start at the beginning?

No, I don't think that would be very useful. This is going to be a long damn story even if I leave out scads of detail. Then again, if I leave out the part where we stopped at McDonald's, on the way to the venue, it will make a later incident less meaningful. So, OK, we stopped at McDonald's on the way to Gillette Stadium. I had two cheeseburgers and some fries. Freddie had a chicken sandwich, a double quarter-pounder with cheese, a chocolate shake, and two apple pies. That's all you need to know for now.

Before the beginning, Fast Freddy had given me a phone call. Here, as best I can recall it in my current not-having-gotten-enough-sleep-because-Gillette-Stadium-stepped-on-my-cojones-even-though-I-had-attended-a-concert-there-and-the-contract-called-for-my-nuts-to-be-crushed-only-as-an-alternative-to-that-state-of-mind, was the conversation.

"Sully, you old saber-toothed warhound! We're going to AC/DC!"

"Do I have any choice in the matter, Fred?"


And I didn't, really. On average, I'd say Fred and I go to one concert a year. If any of the following acts comes to town, he gets the tickets and we go: Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, or AC/DC; basically, any heavy metal band that started playing when half of you weren't born. Since this was one of those bands, we were going.

(Note to Fred, for future reference: If any of those acts is coming to Gillette Stadium in the future, I'm not. For that matter, if Jimi Hendrix were to rise from the grave and his only appearance before going back under the dirt was at Gillette Stadium? Count me out. Even if he's sharing a bill with Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain. As a matter of fact, I'll gladly trade places with any one of them, right now, in exchange for not having to endure another night at Gillette.)

Fred bought the tickets - approximately a c-note each - and we circled July 28th on our respective calendars.

Yesterday was July 28th, of course, so after work I met Fast Freddy at his house. I parked Roddy The Wondercar in Fred's driveway. We would be taking his Mirano. That was at 5:15. The show, according to the tickets, began at 6:00. Any veteran of concert-going knows that means the main act wouldn't be on until perhaps 8:00 or 8:30, so we didn't have to hurry, since Fred lives a leisurely 20 or 25 minutes from Foxborough. We shot the breeze a bit, then left.

Oh, I need to mention that, when I first arrived at Fred's, he answered the door in his bathrobe and informed me that he needed to go take a shit. I guess I have that effect on people. Anyway, the important point to remember is that he seemed to have forgotten about it at some point, as he never did go to the bathroom before we left.

(Those of you with excellent reading comprehension skills, as well as a bent for detective work, will have started piecing together some salient clues as to what is in store, no doubt.)

So, after a while, we hit the road. We then both decided that we were hungry, so we hit the closest fast food joint, which was the previously-mentioned McDonald's. Then, back on the road again. We got to within two miles of Gillette Stadium and slowed to a crawl in pre-concert traffic. That was OK. We knew that AC/DC wouldn't be on for at least an hour. Anvil was slated to open for them, and I did want to see a bit of their act, but we were only two miles from the venue, so how long could it take to be in our seats and rocking out righteously?

(The answer is contained in that previous paragraph. Let's see if you can find it! Yes, the correct answer is "at least an hour". Very good. Go to the head of the class.)

We not only had to work through the two miles of snail's pace traffic, we also had to park. Fred pulls into what appears to be the best available stadium parking lot, which is to say the only one near where we were at the time. And, after crawling for about 500 yards, we get directed to the right, to the left, down a dirt road about a half-mile, to the left again, and then we come to the cashier. And a sign that says parking is $40.


After giving the cashier a year's wages in Somalia, we drove another 500 yards, got sent to the right, down another dirt road, then to the left, and finally we got directed into a parking spot in a valley somewhere near Providence, Rhode Island, from which we could make out the top tier of the stadium if we squinted and there weren't too many clouds. We then got out of Fred's car and began the Bataan Death March. Along with hordes of other unhappy campers - and, considering the time we ended up spending in that parking lot later, camping would have been a decent option - we trudged resolutely in the direction of the stadium. We knew we were headed the right way not because we could see where we needed to go, but because there were signs saying "Pedestrian Pathway To Stadium". We basically walked back the way we had come while driving into Hell's Parking Lot, with some added mileage thrown in for shits and giggles by designers who knew that the path would, on some evenings, be taken by stoned middle-aged rockers, so why not give them some aerobic exercise before the show? Just the thing when you're nursing a buzz.

So, we finally get inside the stadium and up to our seats, just in time to hear Anvil say "Thank you! Good night!" OK, things could have been worse. We could have gotten there in time to hear them say "Hello! Are you ready to rock?" and then had to actually listen to them.

(That's just a cheap joke. I hear they're pretty good. I would have preferred being able to make that judgment via actual experience of having listened to them, but you can't expect everything for just a $100 ticket and a $40 parking fee.)

And then we waited, and waited, and waited some more. The stage appeared to be set after about ten minutes, but apparently they hadn't sold enough merchandise or something, so we sat for about 45 minutes. Finally, around 9pm, the lights go down, the yahoos - myself included - cheer mightily, and AC/DC hits the stage.

I like AC/DC. If I didn't, why would I have been there? But, I've got to tell you, as much as they sweat buckets and work hard, it was just OK. Angus runs around and loses ten pounds in water weight, Brian Johnson puts a strain on his vocal chords that no 61-year-old should ever do, and the rest of the guys rock steady. I really do appreciate the effort. But, I've seen it all before. Aside from the addition of four songs from the new "Black Ice" album, it was the same basic set they played when I last saw them. Angus does his little strip-tease, they play pretty much everything you expect with not much variance in the arrangements, and... eh. I suppose if you've never seen them live, it's all very exciting, but by the fourth or fifth time, not so much. Of course, my enjoyment of the show is probably being colored, in the breech, by the events from after the show, so...

Show over, Freddy and I do the Bataan Death March for a second time, in reverse, except this time everybody is falling-down drunk and deaf, except for me. First off, I always wear hearing protection at these concerts because without my ears I can't do my job. Second, I decided that I didn't want to be tired and hung over at work, so I limited myself to two beers for the evening. Had I known what was about to transpire, I would have been sucking down brew all night. At least then I would have had the entertainment of yakking up the burgers from earlier in the evening.

Fred is exhausted. He's stumbling along the pathway, leaning against traffic cones and almost falling into a ditch on the side of the path. We're joking a bit, and it is fun being with Fred, so this is not the worst thing in the world (I know, because that came later.) Fred asks me if I'd mind if he took a short nap once we get back to his car.

I say, "Geez, Fred, I'd really like to get home. I've got work in the morning."

He says, "Sully, we won't be out of here for a good half-hour, anyway. It's going to be a parking lot."

Since it actually was a parking lot, that was pretty funny.

When we got back to the car, I saw that the traffic was, indeed, not moving at all. I told Fred to take his nap and I'd wake him when the cars in line in our lot started to make some headway.

And so I waited, and smoked a cigarette, while Fred snored in the seat next to me. He had thrown in an Allman Brothers CD and it was playing the most hideously overlong version of "Bo Diddley" I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. 26 freakin' minutes that song went on with nothing of value to show for the effort afterward. It was the very definition of pointless noodling. And all the while FFG is snoring and the cars aren't moving an inch. I sit there alternately smoking, listening to more Allman Brothers, watching the couple in front of me groping each other on the flatbed of their pick-up, and silently consigning the designer of the parking lot to the same corner of hell occupied by the guy who came up with CD packaging

To make this tedious story move along a bit faster - it is, in it's own way, much like the Allman Brothers version of "Bo Diddley" - at 12:45 (that is 45 MINUTES AFTER MIDNIGHT, AND AT LEAST AN HOUR-AND-A-HALF AFTER THE CONCERT ENDED) I see some cars finally begin to move. I poke Freddy in the side and he wakes up. He starts the car, we edge into line, we get out onto Route One, southbound.

We need northbound.

But the lot empties in a southbound direction only. In order to reverse direction, we have to go up to Route 140, two miles or so up the road and then turn around. After ten minutes, we get there and Fred can't get into the lane we need, so we go sailing past it (if 10mph counts as 'sailing'.)

Fred keeps driving - what else could he do? - and then gets a chance to slip across the northbound lane and pull a u-turn. He does. We are now about three miles south of the stadium, heading north, behind a line of traffic about FIVE miles long moving at 5mph.

At this point, Fred remembers that he has to take a shit.

"Ooh, Sully, I've got a stomachache."

"Sorry to hear that, Fred."

"No, I mean I have a really bad stomachache. What am I going to do?"

"I don't know, Fred. It doesn't appear there's really much you can do at this point."

Fred replied, "Oooooooohhhhhhhh..."

I felt for him, but there was no place anywhere near where we were at for him to take care of his business. There wasn't even anywhere to pull over. We had now edged about a mile closer to the stadium after ten minutes.

Fred said, "Sully, I've got to get someplace to... Oooooooohhhhhhh... What am I going to do? I've got to pull a u-turn again and get us onto Route 140. I've got to find someplace."

And so Fred looked for an opening to pull another u-turn, to head us southbound again, away from where we needed to go to get home. He did so, and then he maneuvered through traffic to Route 140, all the while with his gut twisting. When we got onto Route 140, we were at least moving at a reasonable pace, but there was still nothing much to be seen in the way of facilities for Fred.

"Sully, look in my glove compartment. Are there any napkins in there?"

I popped the glovie and found some.

"Yeah, Fred, I've got some."

"I might have to pull over and take a shit in the woods. Ooooooohhhhhhh..."

"Whatever you have to do, Fred."

He drove on, though, and we passed a small strip mall. I spotted some light on in one of the establishments.

"Fred, I don't know what that is, but maybe it's someplace you can go."

He saw where I was directing him and pulled in. There was an "Irish" pub. It was about 1:15am, now. Fred jerked the car into a parking space, flung open the door, and rushed, halfway bent over, into the pub. I waited outside.

After ten minutes, the place began to empty out rapidly, people staggering out to their cars. No sign of Fred, though. Perhaps he was the reason they were leaving? Maybe he had literally, rather than the usual figuratively, died in the mens room. However, just as I was ready to go in and see if I could find what was left of him, he came bouncing out. He was in a much lighter mood.

"Sully, that was... Could you imagine if I wasn't able to find someplace? What on earth is more embarrassing than shitting yourself? And you! You'd have to be sitting next to me! The foul stench..."

He went on in a similar vein for a minute or so, laughing. Me, too, of course. Nothing quite so funny as the idea of pooping yourself and someone else being captive to dealing with the odor. Well, nothing funnier to two very tired, half-awake, AC/DC fans, anyway.

We now reversed our direction and once again hit Route One. It was still a nightmare. This was at 1:35am, a full two-and-a-half hours after the concert let out. It was at this point that I made my statement concerning my preference for testicular torture over attending Gillette Stadium. We spent another 20 minutes in traffic getting to the Route 95 split, and then, mercifully, we could move at a reasonable speed again, back to Fred's house.

Reached Fred's place at 2:10 - drove to my place by 2:30 - said "Hi, I'm home, Gillette Stadium sucks!" to MY WIFE - enjoyed a bit of leftover fried rice by 2:45 - finally hit the sack at 3:15 - got up for work at 7am - and here I am, bleary and rusty, typing up this shit about shitty concert venues and a friend who was literally full of shit.

Fred, I love you. I truly do. And I hope I haven't embarrassed you too much here. All in all, you were a trooper. And any evening with you is more fun than not. But, if you ever again suggest going to a concert at Gillette Stadium, I will rip out your heart and sell it on E-Bay.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Michelle H. said...

Damn, that was one great story. Sorry about all the time wasted sitting in traffic, and the bowel thing, but wow!

mibsphil said...

I just want to know: how do you get from Foxboro (or wherever FFG lives, which you said was nearby) to Watertown in 20 minutes???

Anonymous said...

well to keep the theme going suldog i just pissed myself laughing at that story, the whole time i can picture freddy in his distress and could not stop laughing, have not laughed that hard at fred since he took the softball in the nuts!!

Suldog said...

mibsphil - I don't want to give away where FFG lives, as he might not want that info public in this space. However, it's somewhere in Boston not too far from Route One. Anyway, perhaps you misunderstood, or I wasn't clear - It was 20 minutes from Fred's house to mine, not from Foxboro to Watertown. If the times I wrote indicated otherwise, well, I didn't have a stopwatch running the whole time :-) They were mostly guesses, with the only definites being that we left the concert at 11 and I got home at 2:30. Sorry if I misled!

Buck said...

Nice job with this.

And... all of this is EXACTLY why I haven't done a stadium concert in about 30 years and will NEVER do another. My last was at Wembley (The Who) and even they couldn't make up for all the trauma associated with the going. At least I didn't have to deal with parking lot angst at that one... but trying to catch a train... before they quit running... with a few thousand other drunk and stoned fellow-concert goers has a lot of similarities and probably much stronger smells.

Local bands in bars and pubs forever more!

Ragtop Day said...

Oh, this is hilarious - I was laughing out loud, especially the part about wondering if the bar patrons were leaving BECAUSE of FFG!

I've been to a concert at the old Foxboro stadium (not to Gillette yet, and after this, hopefully never!), and you speak the truth about the traffic, the overpriced parking and the distance from the venue! Why people put up with it boggles the mind.

I stopped caring about going to concerts several years ago when I realized that I enjoyed listening the CD's at home more than the poor sound quality at the location and all the logistical crap you go through to get there and back. I know, I'm a curmudgeon.

WV: supent - what Suldog was when he got home from the AC/DC concert.

Expat From Hell said...

Such a great posting. So many concert events really have this crap (pardon the pun) tucked around the getting to, getting in, and getting ripped off. Good for you for writing about it. Title could have been "You Shook Me.....All Night Long!"


Chris said...

This, once again, goes to prove my assertion that if you have a blog, there is no such thing as an entirely bad experience. At worst, you have a hilarious story such as this one. Excellent job, Sully.

Irvine Meadows Amphitheater in Irvine, CA sounds comparable to Gillette. I saw Dave Matthews in Irvine several years ago, and it literally took longer to get out of the PARKING LOT than the concert had actually lasted. Next time I went, I parked at the very rear of the lot, near the exit, and that solved the problem.

Dodger Stadium sucks, too.

Great story, as always, and Fast Freddie sounds like a howl.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

OMG You made me snort. And I don't snort. You also reminded me of the time I attended a World Series game at Dodger Stadium with four guys from work. We were stuck in the parking lot for over an hour and I had to pee, (hence the nickname Pissy Lizzy), and when we finally managed to get onto the freeway it was a parking lot too. So we pulled off and ended up in Chinatown, (L.A.'s Chinatown is pathetic), where we found ourselves a bar. Steve Garvey and his entourage were there and a good time was had by all.

Chris Stone said...

lol. that is funny. you should've had a pint at the pub. I have no desire to go to Gillette (for a Patriots game) even though i could take the train up there.

Ananda girl said...

Isn't it funny... when I was 17 I was happy to spend a day and a night in line at Candle Stick Park to get a good spot at a Zepp concert.

Here we are older and wiser I suppose... and somewhere in the years between the excitement turned into "shit" like this. LOL
Fun story!

Jazz said...

Is Angus the one who runs around in short pants and a blazer?

I can't help but think heavy metal bands should quit at the latest when they hit 45. 'Cause playing metal at 60 is just, well, a bit ridiculous. Old metal bands are the worst thing in geri rock...

I'd much rather listen to them on a CD. Less embarrassing for them.

CSD Faux Finishing said...

Well maybe not as overt as the last time but at least you're 2 for 2 when it comes to seeing some live action at an AC/DC concert (as far as your blogging about it is concerned of course).

When life give you poo throw it at your keyboard and turn it into a rose. Great story!

Hilary said...

So sorry for your torturous night, but oh how it makes such a fine story. You're a natural, Suldog. Thanks for the laugh.. sorry it was at your expense.

Beth said...

That was a long story. Bo Diddley long. Sorry for the sucketh experience.

In order to see a concert where I live, you have to drive at least 2 hours away. It would freak me out if I had had to wait 2 hours to get out of the parking lot.

And who the hell is getting the parking lot money? Note to self: Can become independently wealthy by owning field next to concert venues.

Jen said...

What a nightmare. It reminds of Penn State football games that must be endured when we go to my husband's family home. Don't mind the actual game it just takes forever to get home. It is so painful that I cringe whenever he suggests us flying out there to see one.

Nancy said...

Hi just stopping by and LOL at this story! I truly hope Freddy is feeling better.

jo said...

..and that my dear is why I now buy the DVD and watch Angus' hairy legs in my F'in living room with the volume up to 11. IN HIGH DEF.
I once tried to see the The Wall show there with my little Italian, I HATE TRAFFIC FIAT before it was even Gillette, but just old Foxboro. The engine practically melted. Never, ever again.

Judi FitzPatrick said...

Only you could tell this story and make it sound funny and entertaining.
Thanks for the smiles!

Unknown said...

Yeah, I know, something like that is only funny when it happens to someone else. But at least you got one killer blog post out of it. Funny!


Ericka said...

in college, i got free tickets to all sorts of concerts at blossom in cleveland. it's almost worse when you spend HOURS trying to get away from a free concert that sucked. blah. now i listen to cds at home.

glad you (eventually) made it home safely!

Janet said...

That was a fabulous story. Poor Fred. Poor you, too. Don't ever go to Starwood Amphitheatre outside Nashville. It's a two-lane road for 10 miles in either direction, so getting in and out is a similar nightmare. Granted, the last time I was there was 1989, so things may have changed since then.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Amanda. Things change as we age. Maybe that's good, maybe it's not. Depends on what it is, I guess.
Very funny story. :) The title started making me laugh.

Marian Dean said...

I knew there was a very good reason that I never was tempted to attend one of these concert things... now I remember!
Good story, well told.

Love Granny

Anonymous said...

I can't decide. Hmmmm...
Would you go to another concert at Gillette Stadium or not...?
You must make yourself clear.
Good post...You are a very funny fella.

Urbie said...

Heh... I was at Gillette on Sunday, for the AC Milan-Inter Milan soccer game. I also paid $40 to park (the ticket was $35!). I will not be going there again, unless it's for a New England Revs game (they don't charge for parking). That's ridiculous, that they don't tell you about the parking charge until it's too late to do anything else (like not go in the first place).

John said...

40 bucks for a freakin parking, woowww, that's screwing up people.

Anonymous said...

You see? This is why I keep coming back, ploughing through the sports stuff with little or no understanding of the subject matter. You made me laugh out loud and only a very few Standups can do that. Your disasters are my happy times, Suldog darlin'.

Anonymous said...

The apple pies, at two for a buck, are a deal I can never seem to pass up!!
For those about to dump...I salute you!!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Hello, Jim!!!! Oh, for heaven's sake...what next???? (Forgive me but I AM in stitches...) I can SOOOO relate!!! I hate major events for just that reason...the parking is horrendous...My son is a history buff...Some years ago now, some friends invited us to a huge Civil War reenactment...Being the doting mother that I am, I agreed to make the trek to a horse farm/pasture just outside of Bull's Run...Only one two-lane road in and out... parking in a cow pasture...30,000 people. Well, you get the picture. Turned out they were using the reenactment for extras for "Gods and Generals"...Like you, I spent 3 1/2 hours sitting in my car...but with my kid (not sure if that counts as quality time...). Thanks for stopping by...I begin to miss my blog...and of course, I've MISSED my good friends (Suldog especially) ALL ALONG...As for "The Gift"...I make no promises... (LOL)...But since you possess it as well...I'll leave it to you to sort it all out ;-) Take care, my good friend...Here's to empty parking lots, and traffic free zones! Cheers! Janine

lime said...

i have a variation on that theme involving mr. lime and rural south carolina in august. but it would not be nice of me to share it here. oh, the temptation. sorry it was such a shitty time though.

Theresa said...

Great story. Kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I'm so glad you were able to share that with all of us. I love love love AC/DC, but I'm with you, maybe they are not worth ALL that kind of trouble. Glad you guys made it home...finally.

eileen said...

$40 for parking is ridiculous!!

Too bad they don't run the Patriots train from South Station for concerts at Gilette.

Your story did make me laugh, though :)

Shammickite said...

I think I shall stick to watching AC/DC on the telly, and the main advantage to that is I don't have to sit in a horrendous traffic jam in either direction and the loo is close at hand in case of emergencies.
But I'm jealous in a way, as I haven't been to a good rock concert for ages.... not since Tina Turner.

xxx said...

I guess you get what you deserve..... being an AC/DC fan has to come with some suffering :)

still laughing

best wishes
Ribbon :)

i beati said...

Now i realize you and I live in different worlds $40 was my food allowance last month REALLY said...

But, wasn't the music great!

We saw them in Nashville last winter and it was a great concert. However, we only had to walk 2 blocks from the hotel to the venue.

The worst parking lot for me was Charlotte Speedway!

kuanyin333 said...

I've not been back here in awhile, and what fun I've missed out on!!!

Your stories never fail to have me grinning & chuckling!

Karen said...

Haha... funny story, as usual. I hate big crowds like that... the traffic is just murder. We live in the middle of nowhere-- not unusual to see someone on the side of the road taking a poop. Funniest thing though is one woman who had her butt facing the road... guess she'd rather we saw her butt than her face and known who she was. LOL

Carolina said...


Anonymous said...

I was on the fence about buying U2 tickets at Gillette and your fabulous recounting of what I had forgotten about that stupid stadium made up my mind. You just saved me a chunk of change. Very entertaining writing style, sir. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

tres interessant, merci