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Admit One

The Evergreen. Ford City. Chicago Ridge. Oak Brook. Yorktown. Woodridge. Hillside.

The Marquette. The Brighton. The Colony.

Soldiers Field, Comiskey Park, Wrigley Field, Dodgers Stadium.

Rosemont Horizon, Poplar Creek. The Forum. The Sports Arena. The Hollywood Bowl.


AC/DC ... Prince ... Huey Lewis & the News ... John Mellencamp ... John Williams ... Henry Mancini ... Peter Gabriel ... Sheila E ... Phil Collins ... Pink Floyd ... Roger Waters ... Yes ... The Eagles ... Def Leppard ... Joe Walsh ... Krokus ... The Go-Gos ... Magnetic Fields

Jerry Seinfeld --- Dennis Miller --- Bob Saget --- Larry Miller --- Phil Hartman --- Steven Wright --- Emo Phillips --- Sandra Bernhardt

I can recall every movie I've ever seen in a theater, where I saw it, and, for the most part, who I saw it with. Same for concerts and comedians.

It's not any sort of photographic memory. It's just that entertainment, especially movies, resonates for me in particular way. There's an emotional etching that takes place, good or bad. And those I share the experience with are bundled happily with those memories.

Oh, and I also have the ticket stubs.

Not for everything — I don't think I started saving my ticket remnants until I was in 7th or 8th grade — but tucked in an envelope in a file box in the bedroom, I retain the typically torn in half but sometimes fully intact stubs for a great number of sporting events, movies, concerts, and live comic performances.

There's a trade-0ff in the detail provided in those man ticket faces over the years. The older stuff was more generic. Movie stubs were those little rectangles with notched corners that came off rolls in the ticket window. Adult. Admit One. $1.75. Matinee. No mention of the film itself. Some don't even specify the theater name. Concert tickets were those hand-size Ticketmaster block-letter printouts that were pre-perforated and did include the date, start time, price, surcharges, admittance policy and, if there was room, the name of the opening act. Those are great. Their sizable, the print is easily legible from a near distance, and, if I can ever put together a display, they'd be the anchor points of it, both visually and as touchstones of my evolving tastes.

First classical performance: John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra, maybe 1979, the Auditorium Theater in downtown Chicago, a gift of my parents, and joined by my brother. Moved not just by the expected "Star Wars" theme but by the composer's rousing score to "The Cowboys" and the march from "1941."

First rock concert: AC/DC, 1980, the Back in Black Tour, at the Rosemont Horizon outside Chicago, accompanied by high school pals Mike, John and someone's brother. Def Leppard was the opening act, seen by maybe 100 people who had arrived early and may or may not have heard the band's first album. I went home from the evening with a 2-day hearing loss.

Saw the Eagles on their "Hell Freezes Over" reunion tour twice. Once after scoring third-row seats in San Diego. A second time in L.A. with a college friend.

Prince: At the Long Beach Arena in 1985 at the height of the "Purple Reign" blitz, with my college roommate. Sheila E opened. Prince played with them to transition to his own act.

The concert, and ticket, I wish I could go back in time to grab and save in memory and memento: Queen, from the "News of the World" tour. I think it was their last run in the U.S. before Freddy Mercury died.

First non-kid movie I recall seeing with my dad: a Paul Newman oater titled "The Life & Times of Judge Roy Bean." First R-rated movie I saw without my parents: "Animal House." I wrote a paper for freshman English class about my friends Brad and Mark and I paying some drunk outside the theater to front for us in getting the tickets.

Most resonant childhood movie experience: Seeing "Jaws" with a packed house that included my whole family and even my grandmother. First time I heard an audience scream out loud. At the head popping out of the hole in the boat, early in the film.

Long waits: Camping out with my roommate Greg in Burbank to see David Letterman when he made his first trek to the coast. We made it on the air, visible behind Chris Elliot, aka "The Guy Under the Stairs." That ticket is yellow, black lettering, about 5 inches by 2 inches. I'm proud to have that one. Another long night: standing overnight outside the Avco in Westwood to see the entire "Star Wars" trilogy back to back. Still l love the commemorative notecard-sized special ticket in card stock with full -color printing. I similarly saw the "Back to the Future" trilogy in a Chicago suburb with my friend Roy. We were among the first 20 in line, and still have the t-shirts marking the event. They had a Delorean outside the theater. The debut of Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy" film: the t-shirt was the ticket.

I used to have a rule after movies, largely to avert that cheesy short-changing pattern of people who turn to each other as the end credits start to roll and ask one another, "So, what'd ya' think?" The rule was no talking, no discussion until after we'd left the theater maybe not even until the ride home. Adherence to the principle has yielded some of the best, most incisive and engaging conversations I've ever had. And I appreciate anyone who's ever been to a screening with me and honored that tenet.

Oh, and that trade-off I mentioned about tickets from the past and those distributed now: the printing. These days, most tickets have all the details printed on them, down to time of sale and auditorium number. It's a nice bit of specificity. But the technology used to print them at most theaters is not meant for the ages. The heat-impression ink fades quickly under the best of conditions, and almost within days when left in the sun. So unless preserved in some way, those tickets won't make it long for posterity.

It's kind of sad to think of those artifacts not surviving long for others to see. But I still have those magical opportunities, those bits of fluff or wonder or soul-stirring inspiration, in my heart and head.