15 April 2007 by Published in: General musings 6 comments

One thing that I particularly enjoy is meeting other writers. I especially enjoy meeting other writers from other disciplines, because I learn from comparing their research and writing methodologies with how I do my work.

On December 8, 2004, the 24th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon, a tragedy occurred here in Columbus. A mentally ill gunman rushed the stage at a local venue called the Alrosa Villa, shot and killed a prominent thrash metal guitar player named Darrell Abbott, and was going to go after other members of his band, called Damageplan. One of the band’s roadies, a patron, and a member of the Alrosa security team rushed the gunman and tried to take him down and were all killed for their trouble. A special duty Columbus police officer killed the gunman with a single blast of his shotgun, saving countless lives. It was a terrible tragedy, and put the Alrosa Villa and Columbus on the national radar screen, and definitely NOT in a good way.

A fellow from Dayton named Chris Armold spent fourteen months researching and writing a book on this event, titled A Vulgar Display of Power: Courage and Carnage at the Alrosa Villa(the title of the book comes from the title of an album by a metal band called Pantera; Darrell Abbott was one of the founders of Pantera). Chris is a free-lance writer who mainly focuses on heavy metal rock and roll, but this episode obviously intrigued him enough to tackle a major project on it. I saw a piece on the news about the book and decided that I wanted to read it. We stopped by a local Borders yesterday and I was surprised to find that Chris was conducting a booksigning there when we got there.

I had looked the book up on Amazon and saw that Chris had been a master sergeant in the Air Force who’s written a couple of books on military history, and we ended up having a rather lengthy and delightful conversation comparing the differences between true crime writing and military history writing, and also about how different it is being able to speak to witnesses and participants instead of having to rely upon 140 year old documents as I so often have to do. He pointed out that while it’s nice to be able to speak to people first-hand, the downside of that is that there are lots of people who will criticize and pick on any tiny little error. Fortunately, I don’t have that to contend with, but everyone is a critic who will criticize almost anything, so I understand that.

I really enjoyed talking with Chris, particularly when I learned that he had an ancestor who served in the 45th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry of the Ninth Corps who was wounded in action at both Antietam and at tthe Wilderness. Chris has a real interest in the Civil War, and he is knowledgeable about the Civil War. He even expressed an interest in one of my books, which was very flattering. We left it that we would stay in touch, and I hope that happens.

You never know who you’re going to meet at a bookstore….

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Sun 15th Apr 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Wow, quite amazing Eric. I do recall hearing about the event on the news, and I think we even spoke about it the following day. I will have to look that book up.

    BTW, I had a terrific time this week, as did Lisa and Bob. I wish Karen could have come along, but it was both relaxing and a blast.

    J.D.

  2. Steve Basic
    Sun 15th Apr 2007 at 11:38 pm

    Eric,

    Thanks for the heads up on the book. IIRC, the gunman was mad because of the break up of the group Pantera, which Mr. Abbott once belonged to, and blamed him for it.

    Only reason I know about this is I actually saw the group Nazareth play there many moons ago when I was still in College and when it happened, it jogged the memory banks here.

    Hope all is well.

    Steve

  3. Mon 16th Apr 2007 at 10:26 am

    Eric:

    Thanks for this post. It makes me want to go to the book store tonight.

    Chris

  4. Mon 16th Apr 2007 at 3:15 pm

    I love the blog that you have. I was wondering if you would link my blog to yours and in return I would do the same for your blog. If you want to, my site name is American Legends and the URL is:

    http://www.americanlegends.info

    If you want to do this just go to my blog and in one of the comments just write your blog name and the URL and I will add it to my site.

    Thanks,
    David

  5. Thu 19th Apr 2007 at 2:20 pm

    My chance meeting with Eric Wittenberg at the Borders in Kenny Road in Columbus was a pure pleasure. It’s rare that I have the chance to speak with another author and rarer still to find someone who writes about topics that genuinely interest me. His passion for his subject was very clear as I could very easily see the enthusiasm in his eyes and hear the inflection in his voice as he spoke about American soldiers of the past. Historians are vital to our society, they know and recognize things that others often miss. As someone far wiser than I once said, those who fail to recognize the lessons of history are forced to relive them. This man certainly knows his topic with authority and recounts the tales of heroism and tragedy with taste and dignity. He’s a damn good writer and it was a pleasure to meet him. THanks for the very kind words about my book Eric, I appreciate them.

    Chris A. BS, MS, MSgt, USAF (Ret)
    http://www.avdop.com

  6. Mark
    Thu 19th Apr 2007 at 2:37 pm

    In reply to Steve Basic’s post. It was reported early in the media that Gale went through with the assassination because he was upset with the break up of the band Pantera. This is entirely false, as several months of research uncovered writings dating possibly back to Gale’s early teens indicated that he clearly hated the band. In his demented mind he truly believed that Darrell Abbott and the band Pantera stole his thoughts to make their music. Chris’ book is very fascinating, and details Gales life, including his documented mental illness, along with the most accurate recollection of what transpired at the Alrosa Villa on December 8, 2004.

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