Old Man Lying by the Side of the Stage
(Page 4 of 6)
I might still be pitying his naïveté if not for an impulsive moment in New Orleans when, bored out of my head at a conference I was attending for work, I decided to skip out and spend a day at the Jazz and Heritage Festival. From the moment I walked into the festival and the fairgrounds, it seems like it really could be that easy. Dashing from the blues stage to the zydeco stage to the jazz tent to the gospel tent, I could barely take it in fast enough: With each new band I saw—John Mooney and Bluesiana, the Rebirth Brass Band, Royal Fingerbowl, Galactic, the Iguanas, the Subdudes, the Meters, the Radiators—I felt like I was hearing something that was both totally new and uncannily familiar. Like Proust’s Swann biting into that memory-drenched madeleine, I felt it all flooding back: Suddenly there was no gulf of time or space between the first exhilarating rock concert I ever attended—Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago when I was 16—and this moment of middle-age euphoria in New Orleans.
As soon as I stepped on the shuttle bus to take me from the parking lot to the campground where I’d be attending Berkfest, a three-day camp-out festival of rock, acid jazz, and jam-band music, I felt a level of embarrassment that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced before. It wasn’t embarrassing just because I quickly saw that I may have been the only one on the bus old enough to be the driver (besides, of course, the driver), but because I suddenly realized that I had brought too much stuff. Way too much stuff.
Here, for the record, are the things I was carrying: a backpack full of clothes, towels, beach blanket, and foam pillow; a cooler full of ice, two bags of whole shelled almonds, dried fruit, and a two-liter box of California cabernet (all part of my self-designed, cholesterol-lowering diet); a tent; a sleeping bag; a beach chair; a beach umbrella; reading materials; writing materials; flashlight; first-aid supplies; an iPod full of desert-island CDs; and a half-filled bottle of Percodan, a powerful painkiller that I had been prescribed a few months earlier after minor surgery and that I enjoyed so much I was now considering using it recreationally at some strategic point in the weekend. The backpack, fresh off the rack, was the sort and size you’d need if you planned to hike the Appalachian Trail; the cooler, which I was holding in my right hand, was as big and almost as heavy as an air conditioner; the beach chair and umbrella, soon to be known as the goddamn beach chair and umbrella, were in my left hand.
When the brochure for Berkfest said that there would be shuttle buses from the parking lot to the festival grounds, it failed to mention that it would be pouring rain when I arrived, that there would be no shuttle buses from the muddy meadow where I parked to the place half a mile away where the bus picked us up, and that by shuttle bus they meant an old school bus that had no luggage racks or overhead compartments.
Page: << Previous 1
| 4 | 5
| Next >>