Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spectrum memories

AP Photo
Security workers take a photo of the Spectrum prior to
the building being demolished on Tuesday.
Today, I say farewell to another part of my youth.

More than six years after watching the implosion of Veterans Stadium, a wrecking ball will be sent through The Spectrum as the building once known as "America's Showplace" gets demolished to make room for an entertainment and retail area in the South Philadelphia sports complex.

I don't have as many great memories from The Spectrum as I did from The Vet, but I saw dozens of events there, mostly basketball games. For a stretch covering 16 years, two of the greatest players in NBA history -- first Julius Erving, then Charles Barkley -- called The Spectrum home.

I didn't see a concert at the venue, but I do remember in college taking a trip to The Spectrum to watch a World Wrestling Federation card that featured WWF champion Bob Backlund fighting to retain his belt against Big John Studd.

And on those rare occasions our seats were in the third-level, the smell of marijuana wafting through the air.

There are a handful of moments that standout, but only a few games that are etched in my memory. So here are my top 3 Spectrum memories, in ascending order:

No. 3: Feb. 17, 1979. This was the first -- and only -- Flyers game I saw at The Spectrum. The Flyers were playing the hated New York Rangers when the blade of an errant stick jammed through the eye opening on the mask of Flyers' Hall of Fame goalie Bernie Parent. Parent's eye was permanently damaged and he had to retire.

No. 2: May 16, 1980. Unfortunately, another negative for the home team. It was Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Sixers and the Los Angeles Lakers. Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had sprained his ankle in Game 5 and didn't make the trip to Philadephia. So Lakers rookie point guard Magic Johnson volunteered to play center and had one of the best games of his career 42 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in the Lakers' series-clinching 123-107 victory. It was a tough blow for a soon-to-be 17-year-old kid.

No. 1: March 28, 1992: This one I just watched as a college basketball fan. It was the NCAA East Regional championship between Duke and Kentucky. The seats were great. Fourth row on the floor to the left of one of the baskets. The only thing better than the seats was the game itself. It went into overtime, and with Kentucky leading 103-102 with 2.1 seconds left, Duke's Christian Laettner took a length-of-the-court pass from Grant Hill, dribbled once, turned and fired a shot that hit nothing but net in the basket just feet away from our seats to give Duke an improbable 104-103 victory. Laettner was perfect for the game, shooting 10-for-10 from both the field (including a 3-pointer) and the free-throw line for 31 points. For many experts, it it considered the greatest college basketball game of all time. Duke went on to win the title.

So farewell, Spectrum. And thanks for the memories.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A little extreme, don't ya think?

I'm not a fan of "Dancing With the Stars." On those rare times I do tune in, it's usually to watch a so-called star (I think the show should be called "Dancing with the D-List and Has-been Stars") I don't care for fall on their rear end -- like Kate Gosselin this season.

But I do know who is on the show, and a lot of people question why Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol, is on the show. Like I said, the show should be renamed because why is she a star?

From what I"ve read, Palin is an awful dancer, yet continues to move on as call-in voters continue to get rid of other contestants. After Tuesday's show, Palin advanced to the final 3 with a chance to win the title next week.

Well, one man in Wisconsin was so upset by this that he took out a shotgun and shot his TV. According to investigators, this led to an all-night standoff with a SWAT team.

According to the Associated Press, Steven Cowan, 67, was arrested Tuesday morning after officers coaxed him out of his house in Vermont, a farming community near Madison. Cowan, who is accused of threatening his wife with the gun after destroying the television, appeared in a Madison courtroom Wednesday on a charge of second-degree reckless endangerment. His bail was set at $1,500.

Cowan's wife, Janice Cowan, told investigators that her husband suffers from bipolar disorder and had threatened her life in the past.

Read the full story here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

One more year for "The Simpsons"

As anyone who reads this blog (and the two of you know who you are) knows, I am a fan of "The Simpsons," though because of commitments, I'm not as religious a viewer as I was through the series' first 20 seasons.

But I was still glad to hear Friday that Fox has picked up another season of the longest-running comedy in television history. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie will be back for a 23rd season in 2011-2012, which when finished will have 515 episodes in the books.

"Like many 22-year-olds, 'The Simpsons' is extremely happy remaining at home, on Fox, and hopes it doesn't have to go out into the real world for many years to come," executive producer Al Jean told Reuters.

The animated series has won 27 Emmys, and patriarch Homer Simpson's catchphrase "D'oh!" has even earned a spot in the Oxford English Dictionary.

 I don't think the show is as good or as funny as it was over the first 15 or so seasons, but it's still worth watching.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eddie Munster in rehab

Butch Patrick, who as a child star played Eddie Munster in the 1960s television sitcom "The Munsters," checked into a drug and alcohol treatment facility in New Jersey, it was reported Thursday.

According to the Associated Press, Patrick's agent, Jodi Ritzen, says Patrick is in rehab "to deal with a lifetime problem of substance abuse." Ritzen wouldn't disclose the name of the facility where he's being treated.

Patrick, at right holding a book he recently wrote, moved to the Philadelphia area earlier this year after being contacted by a West Chester woman who was a fan of "The Munsters" back in the 1960s. She announced last week that they had split.