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A schtick in time

I think about this now almost every time Axl Rose turns up on the videoboard at a Komets game, screeching his old, old standby.

Welcome to the Jungle. Such an oldie but goody.

Except now, and for quite a few years, I always think this: Welcome to the Jungle. Such an oldie but ... oldie.

Here's the problem with catching lightning in a bottle: It doesn't keep all that well. And that's what the Jungle was. It was, for those of us who experienced it, a very specific phenomenon that lasted only a season or two 20 years ago and then, as inexplicably as it came, dissipated. And it will never be duplicated in exactly the same way.

Mostly it belonged to the kids, who, for a couple of years, decided Komets games were the essence of cool, and transformed the building with their youth and their energy and their very particular brand of zeal. Every game night became Party Central, suddenly, and, as with any party, certain figures emerged as the life of it. Twister. The Dancing Kid. The flags, the unending roar that rose up in a then more intimiate building when the Komets had an opponent on the run ...

Well. It was special. And it's been gone most of two decades.

What's replaced it is a bigger building and the most loyal fan base in minor league hockey, one that can still bring down the thunder on occasion. This is a good thing, and in some ways every bit as unique as the Jungle was. But it's not the Jungle. And we should quit pretending that it is.

Oh, Twister still gets up on occasion, mostly in the playoffs, and does his thing. But without the indefinable something that characterized the Jungle, it's not the same. It's just ... nostalgic, more than anything.

In that sense, when he got up the other night as the Komets were closing out Bloomington, I almost felt a twinge of sadness. You can't recreate the past, I thought. And you really shouldn't try.

Ben Smith's blog.