It was a bitter cold February Sunday Morning, circa 1993. The alarm went off at 8:00 am, I quietly rousted my two children, Mandy age 6, Reese age 3, from their sound sleep.
"Where are we going Daddy?"
You remember honey, we talked about it last night.
"Oh, the building"..
Yes honey, The Building!
The building they were refering to was the old IMA Auditorium...they were going to 'implode' it this morning.
"Is Mommy going?'
No honey, she needs her beauty sleep.( not as 'nostalgic' as I am)
The IMA. IMA stood for Industrial Mutual Association, It was built some 40 odd years earlier during the hey-day of GM's influence in Flint. It was THE major venue in town for ALL events. Basket ball tournaments, The Shrine Circus, Commencements,.....and concerts. And they were going to destroy it to make room for the ever expanding Flint campus of Flint U/M.
I've always been fascinated by file footage of the Las Vegas casinos being brought down, and that same ending was coming to our little hick town.....
It was only a 4 mile drive there from our house, and we were soon being directed to a 'safe viewing area'. As I said, it was a bitter cold day, and upon parking my daughter opted for the warmth of the mini-van. My son though was game, and after bundling him up in his snow suit, mittens, and scarf, we walked about 30 yards to a roped off corner of the parking lot. Since it was sooo cold, only about 50 or so die hards showed up.
We ranged in age from between 25 and 45. The smell of hand-warmers, coffee, and hot cocoa, was soon wafting about, but not much was being said....We were all trying to keep warm...entrenched in our own thoughts.
Finally, as though the silence was deafening, I blurted out......
"I remember seeing Jimi Hendrix here, he humped his amp, then set fire to his guitar on stage!"
As if a bell went off, one by one everyone started blurting out names....
Yeah, my first concert Joe Cocker
Mine was Nazareth
Mine was Steve Miller
Mine was J. Geils....
......J. Geils!! I had to add" Yeah, the first time I saw J. Geils his lead- in group was the Average White Band, the lead singer was banging Bette Midler at the time , and when they came out for their encore she came out on stage and joined in a rendition of I Heard It Through The Grapevine."
Another added....The James Gang....
....The James Gang "Yeah, and Joe Walsh quit 2 weeks before they came here, what a gyp!!"
Yeah, I thought to myself, that fucker Randy Bachman had on tight red leather pants that he wore 60 pounds ago!
The Four Seasons
The Four Seasons?? One by one we all turned and looked his way, and broke out laughing.
Finally I added, "Well the best show That I've ever seen live was Alice Coopers Welcome To My Nightmare!...It was a multi-media event . At one point in the concert a screen lowered on stage, and a film of skeletons dancing in a graveyard was playing. Suddenly the skeletons turned and started to come toward the audiance....Just then, through slits in the screen, LIVE dancing skeletons burst through on stage and danced right before a stunned crowd...It was great!!"
Hey I was there
So was I
Yeah it was awesome
..Several moments of silence was then broken by a city worker walking up and down the street with a mega-phone..."When you hear the siren folks, the countdown will begin".
Just then the mournful wail began...Ten nine eight seven six.............
A mild rumble, several small pops, and the collapse started....sort of disappointing really! I had expected much more.......no one said a word. One by one, we all turned to each other , we were all sniffling..but NOT from the cold. All that was left of our stately old building was rubble, twisted steel, billowing smoke and dust and ......memories!
We all shuffled slowly and silently, back to our vehicles. As I was pulling away, I looked in the rear view mirror for one final peek at the pile of debris, I reached for the radio volume knob to turn it up a hair...Who was on? Fuckin Joni Mitchell........
......"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? You take Paradise and put up a parking lot"