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During the debate yesterday (more on that soon) they showed the Volkswagen ad where they play Ted Nugent’s ‘Stranglehold’ in the background.  I didn’t even know the name of the song until a couple of months ago.  I just knew it as Kevin Von Erich’s entrance music.  If the television is on but I’m not watching and that ad plays Nugent’s guitar, for just one fraction of a second it is a Saturday morning in Spring 1983.  Kevin Von Erich is coming down the aisle to wrestle one of the Fabulous Freebirds.  I’m getting ready to go outside and  play.  Wiffle ball bat and tennis ball.  My best friend lived next door.  Our triple-decker houses were a station wagon’s length apart.  I can still feel the concrete steps of his house’s back porch. 

Our backyards were the playground.  It must have been cramped in reality, but it was big enough to play basketball, baseball, football, soccer, kickball and golf if you bent the rules enough.  There was a swing set too.  We made up a game where we would kick a ball off one triple-decker and watch it bounce off the other one.  The ball would sometimes hit both houses twice before it hit the ground or we caught it.  We never broke a window.

It was three and a half years before the neighborhood went to hell and my best friend’s family moved away.  It was four years before the house next door became a drug den.  Eventually it was abandoned and occupied by the homeless.  It burned down in 1993 after at least four acts of arson.  It’s been gone for half of my life.

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