Wednesday, July 28, 2004

A few deep breaths 

It seems that I'll have to wait to post the video and images I took at the Madonna concert.  My university server space (where I store all of my media) is in a confused state at the moment.

I, myself, am lately in a confused state.  Going to school is a difficult enough process; hunting fair loans, planning a thousand-mile move and finding a place that allows a cat is tiresome and morosely expensive.  My apologies.

On an up note, I just noticed that the employee benefits package at the George Washington University acknowledges domestic partnerships.  I think the small details such as this exemplify the motivations I must keep in mind during this seemingly insurmountable burden, the cultural pot o' gold at the end of the (I had to say it) rainbow.

I'm off to Batesville tonight to have my parents cosign my loan papers.  Just think about the payoff, breathe deeply and slowly, think about the payoff...


Monday, July 26, 2004

"I'm not gonna hurt you; just close your eyes" 

That kicked ass.


(Pictures and video on the way)

The drive to Atlanta was uneventful aside from several serious blasts of wind and rain while driving through a pitch black and frequently under construction Tennessee interstate network.  Driving south toward Birmingham on 65, we saw rest stops where retired NASA rockets peppered the landscape, lighted beacons of a surreal nature.  I tend to forget a lot of information when not constantly reminded of it; I'd forgotten just how large Atlanta is.  Careening through an eight-lane section of 4 a.m. intercity freeway at 80 m.p.h. and still-dense traffic is a good reminder of how far that city has moved away from the quaint Southern depot of years past.  Our hotel, a few miles north of the city, was packed with dozens of people in town for a family reunion, so each morning we awoke (at least temporarily) to halls filled with skwawking children and curious maids peeking into our room.

Saturday morning afternoon we got up and drove into the city looking for pre-concert fun.  Heading to the Emory campus, I pointed out to Billy all the places Steven had lived while there (including the infamous street where, um, a tree jumped out in front of his car) and generally took in the sights and sounds from a campus I came very close to attending way back when (where the Dalai Lama would have been my keynote speaker for the incoming class of freshmen).  Deciding to park it at Emory Village until the concert hour arrived, I went to the Cedar Tree for some legendary felafel (which I've managed to have about once every three years since 1998) before finding a dark, cool booth at the neighboring Park Bench bar.  After the first pitcher we began to notice that, likely due to the bar's proximity to Emory's Goizueta Business School, the place was clotted with archetypal yuppie folk.  Their loud, whiney, beloafered glory begged intervention, so we flooded the jukebox with a dozen Madonna tracks, a plan that ultimately backfired and, while it did push them further out of earshot, essentially concentrated them into a single bar-obscuring cluster, reeking of green colognes and expensive leather business card holders.  We couldn't stop talking about American Psycho, wondering if they would get the picture if we played some Huey Lewis and the News.  Keeping our asshole assumptions to ourselves (but still laughing about it), we just got another pitcher and watched them play some sort of catapult game in the bar's front window as we listened to the rest of our Madonna set.

From there we went directly to Phillips Arena, which was less than simple to actually do.  Looping through Buckhead for directions, oops, swinging back onto 75, oops, stopping on 20 to  ask for directions, oops, wrong directions, excuse me officer... about an hour later we knew we had hit the trail when we spotted a white Forerunner with "MADONNA" painted on the rear window in traffic ahead of us.  This was when I started getting butterflies; with the windows down, it was obvious that everyone in this particular traffic jam was Madonna-bound, each car blasting a different track of hers from open windows at maximum volume (we opted for 'Bedtime Stories' to keep everyone calm).  We followed the "MADONNA" Forerunner to the arena, then promptly spent another half hour trying to find our special parking section (which we never actually found).  Finally parking in some random lot out of frustration, we hopped out of the car giddy and vibrating with anticipation.  Again, the hordes of people walking to the arena were all in amazing moods, some already incredibly drunk, and all, of course, dancing and singing along to the music issuing forth from the dozens of audibly well-equipped vehicles.

We entered our little VIP area which, while definitely enjoyable, was not what one would call 'worth the money.'  We got a free drink ticket and some nicely catered finger food, but otherwise the only draw of the VIP lounge was the mingling potential (saw some CNN people) and the easy access to the building and indoor/outdoor lounge areas.  I asked the bartendrix for a rum and coke, heavy on the rum and light on the coke, when I noticed that they had stocked some very expensive liquors.  Pouring my drink, I was amazed to see that she totally acknowledged my instructions, waiting until the glass was half full of top-notch booze before instructing me to "just say when."  I stopped her when there was enough room left in the glass for a splash of coke, leaving me with an impressive drink.  "You enjoy, honey, but be careful," she reminded me.  I love her.  Billy did the same with his whiskey drink, which smelled so strong that it burned my eyes when I tasted it.  I noticed a deaf fellow with his partner at a table near us, speedily signing to and fro on the subject of the wicked event program.

Outside on the patio we called our respective people, excitedly reporting the news from our tasty VIP position.  My sister was in Little Rock at a Travs double header, and she told me that she would murder me with her hands if I got an autograph and she didn't.  The security guards whizzed about the perimeter on Segways.  While picking out a souvenir, I chatted with a guy from Louisville and a crazy old woman from the fucking Moon.  We made our way to our seats, a little drunk and flashing our passcards in Wayne and Garth fashion at every passerby, "Madonna, Madonna, eleventh row, Madonna" announcing us on our march.  At each ticket checkpoint the security ushers got nicer, and we got louder.  I was sweating already.  We had been so afraid that we would be seated with staid nouveaux riches, but instead we were sitting between two almost-twin sisters (with the same tattoos as us) and a cute, short lesbian couple from the area who had a relative in Jonesboro.  I was in shock at this point, frightened by our proximity to the stage and my urge to rush it.

When the lights dimmed, everyone in our section jumped to their feet instantly, screaming and clapping uncontrollably: ahhh, my people

The opening piece, 'the Beast Within,' was essentially a collage culled from the Klein/Deitch Projects installation featuring high-art videography of Madonna and esoteric symbolism/costumery draped over with a soundtrack of the lady herself reading from Revelations.  I wish this part, or at least the styling and presentation of it, had lasted longer, as its modernity and simplicity, perhaps even its darkness, were stunning.  Moving directly into Vogue, the crowd absolutely went wild (I loved the show-off yoga-imbued dance combinations that permeated this piece--Voga?  Yogue?).  I went absolutely mad when "Burning Up" kicked in, featuring a Madonna on guitar, even.  Likewise with "Get Ito the Groove," which made it to Megan's voicemail ("It was so loud and garbled that I couldn't tell what it was... until I heard you and Billy's voices shouting behind all the noise").  Speaking of which, I left voicemail messages of that concert with so many people, even some people with whom I haven't spoken in a half year, so if you got a confusing, loud call Saturday night, now you know.  When the catwalk lowered from the cieling we all went crazy, as it put us within ten feet of the action.  I'm not sure if I like that Madonna sang Lennon's "Imagine" to a backdrop of imagery with a heady pro-Israel tone, but that was my only complaint about the concert itself (and I still sang along).  During 'Music' I came very close to having my camera confiscated, but, bless you other rabid Madonna fans, they crowded the security man off of me, garishly flashing their cameras in the guards general direction and shouting at him until he backed away with a simple, easily-ignored threat.  Shortly thereafter I noticed a cartoonishly drunk girl peeing in a cup in the center-stage aisle.  I envied the people who had managed to score pit tickets, and got only slightly irritated that some of these people have connections who let them hop from show to show for free, depriving some poor deserving kid of a potential merit-based position 'neath Madonna's expensively-tailored kilt, but then I acknowledged that I would have done the same had the opportunity presented itself.

We rejoiced frequently in our proximity to the stage; I could clearly resolve both of Madonna's nostrils.

Madonna drew her show to close without much ado, and the house lights were on in full force withing sixty seconds of the music's end and the subsequent "thank you" from our hostess.  The abrupt ending left us sweating and still dancing, gathering confetti from the floor and taking in a full view of the arena's interior.  I could see a number of people in the big, central skybox, and I wondered who had rented a silly private box for the evening when they could have been down on the floor with the pulsating crowd.  Some celebrities or illustrious locals, I suspected, who couldn't be bothered with such proximity to normal folk.

Dancewalking back to the car in the amazing nighttime breeze, we wiped sweat away as we discussed the finer points of the show and that eighty-plus year old couple we saw in the lounge, patiently awaiting their audience with the Material Girl.  It had been a truly enjoyable concert, and I was appropriately overexerted and ready to go meet our friend's friend for a mellow remained of the evening with Goldfinger, the sleeping guy on the floor, and laughing remembrances of times past.


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