April 28, 1980: The Who At The Checkerdome

Note: This is the third of a three-part “mini-series” of posts. The first two parts are here and here, but if you’d like you can start right in with this one.

The St. Louis Who concert announcement may have been the worst-kept secret in the world. By the time they actually went public, in about February or early March of 1980, rumors had been circulating for days or weeks, so I pretty well knew what to expect, and I was ready to pounce. The details: tickets would be sold by mail order only, with a cashier’s check or money order sent to a post office box, first come, first served, yada yada. At $11 each, they were the most expensive concert tickets I’d ever bought. AND, there was a service charge on EACH ticket of a WHOLE DOLLAR. But it was the WHO; well worth the price. I had a … Keep reading …

Why Should I Care If I Have To Cut My Hair?

“I’ve got to move with the fashions, or be outcast…”

The story of our WHO weekend in 1980 continues. Episode 1 is here.

After our adventure in Columbia, Geoff and I rode the bus back to St. Louis on Monday, arriving mid-afternoon at the downtown bus station. I showed him around a bit; I think it was his first visit to the city, other than trips in and out of the airport. I still remember his question: “Where are all the people?” Yes, St. Louis in mid-afternoon is a ghost town compared to NYC, but hey, it’s home.

We got a ride home from my dad, going home on highway 40, which took us past the Checkerdome, with the marquee: “The WHO – Sold Out” We’d be back there in a few hours, and … Keep reading …

A One-Way Drive In 1980

Preface: Maybe I have a strong internal calendar. I seem to remember a lot of key dates in my life ; I remember way more birthdays than I have a right to; and if I hear it’s the anniversary of something or other, it always seems to be more interesting to me than to the people around me. Whatever. Some people know important things; I know anniversaries. Anyway, 30 years ago this month I saw what still stands up as my favorite concert of all time — The Who at the Checkerdome in St. Louis. As I’ve thought about that show and all of the events that surrounded it, it occurred to me that that whole year of 1980 was one of the most significant in my life. I selected and started attending a new, out-of-state college; I cast my first presidential vote; I turned 21; I flew for the first time, and saw the ocean for the first time; and, most importantly, I met the girl I would end up spending the rest of my life with. So I decided I’d devote a few pages of this blog to the year of 1980, sort of following along as it happened, with the benefit of 30 years of hindsight. For those who shared at least part of that year with me, I hope this brings back good memories. If not, the money-back guarantee applies. All posts in this series will be in the category “1980,” for those playing the home version of our game. -js


The spring of 1980 found me living at my parents’ house, after 2-1/2 years at the University of Missouri. I’d left Mizzou at the end of the fall semester in 1979, with plans to finish my schoolin’ at a smaller college somewhere. First, though, I was going to take a semester off.

My friend Geoff was also back at home after having left Mizzou, but he had already started his second college stint, at CW Post in New York city. We had a literary friendship — we typed dozens, probably hundreds of letters back and forth, mostly, but not exclusively, talking about whatever music we were listening to. Music was a critical element of our friendship. We each “discovered” the Who’s Next album at about the same time, a thousand miles apart and almost a year before we met each other, and we both, I think, remain firm in the belief that it’s the greatest rock album of all time.

Who’s Next was released in 1971, but by 1980 the band had seen more than its share … Keep reading

A New Way To Look At St. Louis, Ctd.

Here are a couple more pictures I liked from my walk across the river the other day. (As always, click on the thumbnail for a larger view.) First, as you see above, a panorama  of the St. Louis Skyline from across the river. The overlook at Malcolm W.  Martin Park is a little back from the river, so you get all of that industrial-ugly stuff in the foreground, but it’s still a great view.

I love doing panoramas. They’re ridiculously easy in Photoshop, as long as you take the initial shots properly. (The main key: set the camera to manual exposure, so all of the pictures are shot using the same settings. Also, allow plenty of overlap between the individual shots.) This one was composed from five initial pictures.

Someday I’ll post a few other panoramas from the last few years.

Our second shot today is from my walk back across the Eads Bridge to St. Louis. The Mississippi River is falling; a week or so ago it was up above flood stage, meaning that the river was lapping onto Leonore K. Sullivan Blvd. (Wharf Street, for you real old-timers). By Tuesday, when these pictures were taken, it had fallen nine or 10 feet (and in the four days since then, it has fallen another four feet). When the river falls, it leaves behind a lot, and I mean a lot, of mud. These guys have the unfortunate task of cleaning it up, and sending that mud back into the river. You can see in the foreground what lies in their future. It’s definitely worthy of “Dirty Jobs,” and unfortunately for these workers, St. Louis has a long, long stretch of cobblestones to clean.

A New Way To Look At St. Louis

Malcom Martin keeps an eye on the Gateway City.

April 20 was the day I’d been waiting for for months. Warm, but not too warm. Plenty of sunshine. Not a terribly busy day at work. And the trees are greening up nicely, filling out enough so that, from a distance, they look pretty darn summery.

I took my camera to work. And at lunchtime — actually a few minutes early — I packed up and headed for … Keep reading

One Vote

In 1998, I ran for alderman in my town of Rock Hill, Mo. Surprised the heck out of myself, because it’s not really something I ever imagined I’d do. But our neighborhood had had some issues with the city government, and although the particular issues were mostly cleared up, the process had exposed some flaws in the leadership of the city. I was actually somewhat familiar with how city government works, having covered numerous municipal meetings as a stringer for the Webster-Kirkwood Times and the Suburban Journals. So when filing opened for the April aldermanic election and none of my neighbors seemed particularly interested in running, I decided to throw my hat in.

I had my own ideas about running for local office: I worked hard to write a create a good, well-written campaign brochure, and then …Keep reading

London Calling

It was 30 years ago this spring that music–both my own and the world’s at large–got an incredible jolt. The Clash album London Calling was released in England in December of 1979, and in the U.S. in January 1980. Normally I’m not an “early adopter” of new music, but thanks to my good friend Geoff, I had purchased it by early spring. The album grabbed hold of me immediately, and has never loosened its grip.

In early 1980, I was taking a semester off between two years at Mizzou and an expected transfer to a smaller school; Geoff was back in his New York home, having already transferred from Mizzou to CW Post. We stayed in touch through the U.S. Mail, occasionally sending each other cassettes of music we were listening to. One he sent me … Keep reading