“Haven’t done any heavy stuff since the Nassau Coliseum.”
—Lifter Puller, “Nassau Coliseum”
My iPod pulled a good one on me the other day: It offered up Lifter Puller’s “Nassau Coliseum” just as I was driving past that Long Island structure, the day after Nassau County executive Ed Mangano outlined his vision for a smaller arena to take that structure’s place in his State Of The County address. The New York Islanders, the NHL franchise that has played at the Coliseum since 1972, decamp for Brooklyn’s sleek Barclays Center in 2015; the new venue in the Coliseum’s place might not have NHL action, but, according to Mangano, it will host “family entertainment, concerts, the circus, and sporting events.” More Dora The Explorer and Sunday evening doo-wop shows than Springsteen and AC/DC—nothing on the scale of the Coliseum that was so crucial to my youth.
The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (the Coliseum, if you’re familiar; the Mausoleum, if you’re clever) held its first event on February 11, 1972. Four months later I walked through those doors for the first time, for my very first concert: David Cassidy, whose show I screamed through. I returned to see Kiss shortly after; I screamed my way through that show too. I saw New York Nets basketball games with Dr. J and the red, white, and blue balls; I marveled at the Ice Capades and the circus.
And hockey. So much hockey. Season tickets (section 315), shared with my parents and two sisters. Losing seasons and despair, then winning seasons and Stanley Cups. [...]