September 21, 2005

(Almost) Liveblog: From The Big Apple To The Big Easy

I was roughly 30 feet from Simon and Garfunkel last night. They sang "Homeward Bound" and I broke out in goosebumps.
If you were watching pay-per-view, you most likely saw the back of my head (Come to think of it, that statement is pretty dirty if taken a certain way. Ew.).
At about 10 am yesterday Miss. V. at work sent an email to some friends that she had 5 tickets to the
"From The Big Apple To The Big Easy" Katrina Relief Benefit Concert. Free. Floor seats. Don't ask why or how. Just be jealous.
And so I spent last night with Lines, Molly (on what was to be the night we had our last dinner together before she moves back to Denver - this was so much better than dinner), Officemate and her friend at the Garden.
Because I didn't have a computer on me at the time, and thus could not liveblog, consider this a liveblog on a slight delay:

7:04 p.m. - Lines, Molly and I arrive at the Garden, which is all decorated Mardi Gras style. I have a hard time deciding if this is tacky in the face of the tragedy or a symbol of the unbeatable spirit of the people of New Orleans. Then I see the girl on stilts in the Pink Flamingo costume. Decision made.

7:10 p.m. - After a quick bathroom stop, Lines, Molly and I make our way to the floor, where we are escorted to roughly center ice, about 40 yards from the stage. Some jazz pianist is on stage, and is shortly joined by Lenny Kravitz.

7:15 p.m. - Officemate and her friend show up.

7:25 p.m. - Nondescript blues band is on stage. Lines remarks that it is quite possibly the whitest crowd she has ever seen, and posits that most of these people must be Tulane grads. As if on cue, Suit behind her leans forward, explains that he works for Morgan Stanley, and informs us that he went to Tulane. An odd bit of exposition, but it validated Lines, so we're happy. Officemate and I discuss that it does look an awful lot like a Rotary Club meeting. Molly and I decide to go for beers.

7:28 p.m. - While we are gone, Lines shares her gummy bears with Tulane/Morgan Stanley Guy. Maybe this happened before she got the exposition info. I can't remember.

7:39 p.m. - Jimmy buffet takes the stage. I call my Dad's voicemail to let him listen. Molly notices a teleprompter mid-crowd with all the lyrics on it. We all become obsessed with teleprompter and stop watching performance in lieu of staring at karaoke style teleprompter.

7:44 p.m. - Girl in front of Lines drops her purse and spills Lines' beer. We quietly plot her death. Then we see her attempt to dance, and decide it's more cruel to let her live.

7:51 p.m. - Jessica Lange (??) introduces the Dixie Cups, Erma Thomas and Cyndi Lauper. Jessica Lange looks amazing. I am convinced she drinks blood.

7:54 p.m. - Erma Thomas sings "Time Is On My Side", which she sang before the Stones apparently. I am mentally brought back to pledging. The song rocks.

8:02 p.m. - Cyndi sings. I don't know what song, but I love her. She is my favorite in the world. Ask me sometime about my Cyndi/Madonna comparison.

8:04 p.m. - Cyndi takes off her shoes to dance. Love Her. Momentary fear that her breasts are going to come flying out of her dress.

8:04:15 p.m. - Crisis averted. Boobs contained. Rock on Cyndi.

8:10 p.m. - The Dixie Cups (like the Dixie Chicks, except old and black and, well, Cups I guess) take the stage. Apparently they are famous for singing "Going to the Chapel". It's an odd song choice, and every couple in the room has their arms around each other. Every Jewish girl in the room has a deathgrip on her I-Banker boyfriend and is innocuously "Just Singing Along" whilst rubbing their ring finger and staring menacingly into said boyfriend's eyes. I resist the urge to start licking the exposed sound cables lying on the Garden floor.

8:16 p.m. - Erma and Cyndi come back onto stage to join the Cups in "Iko Iko". I hate this song. I have visions of Tom Cruise in Cocktail. I finally lick the sound cable. Damned thing is insulated. Shit.

8:17 p.m. - I rise from the floor and look around, realizing that this is better than Christmas. The last 3 concert I attended were Madonna, Cher and Britney. I have not seen a rhythmless white straight crowd in ages, and their sad attempts at dancing fill me with sick glee. Suddenly enjoying myself much more. Wish "Iko Iko" would never end.

8:19 p.m. - "Iko Iko" ends. Straight white people inexplicably keep dancing, even without music. My heart overflows. Feel like kid in American Beauty watching plastic bag.

8:30 p.m. - Where did the people behind me get gumbo?

8:40 p.m. - Bette Midler takes the stage and makes the first (and only) anti-Bush statements of the evening. She's also the only performer all night to use the word "Fuck". We cheer. Other boo straight through her performance. Note to Bette: I love you, but judge your audience. These are I-Bankers and Finance people for fuck's sake. I think I was the only man in the room not wearing Brooks Brothers. The best line" "George Bush is a big fan of mine. He came to see me in the 70's. A coke dealer of his had tickets." Awesone. She sings "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today". I am alternately touched by the beautiful song and amused by the title in light of the reason we are at this concert.

8:50 p.m. - Scarlett Johansson introduces Elton John. We attempt to put rhyme and/or reason to the choices of celebrities introducing performers. Deciding that there is none, we wait for our turn to introduce someone.

8:53 p.m. - Sir Elton arrives on stage in a black caftan thing, sits at the piano and plays "Funeral For A Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)" while images of the hurricane play on a screen behind him.

9:00 p.m.
- The opening chords of "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" give me chills. Images of rescue personnel behind Elton are touching, yet at the same time a little weird when one considers the lyrics to the rest of the song, aside from the whole "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" line.

9:01 p.m. - Watch fat guy and his odd girlfriend drunkenly do the stadium rock fist in the air pump thing and dance to "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", rocking tune that it is. Realize just how much beauty there is in the world. Wish for another beer.

9:07 p.m. - Elton and gospel choir sing "Levon". Elton leaves stage. Lines remarks that now that Cyndi, Elton and Bette have performed, we have ended the gay portion of the evening, and there is little reason for us to stay other than Simon and Garfunkel.

9:07:22 p.m. - We go for another round of beers.

9:18 p.m. - As more nondescript jazz musicians play, an 18 year old concert staff chick in ripped t-shirt approaches and asks us if we would like to move up. We follow her on a misguided journey past several angry security guards to the 8th row. We are not sure if the people who have tickets for those seats are just in the bathroom or have left for good. We no longer care. We are now 30 feet from the stage.

9:22 p.m. - More blues and jazz bands I am not familiar with. We chat. Officemate and I decide we are getting Miss V. something from Saks to thank her for the tickets.

9:23 p.m. - It dawns on us that we are now in the Bear Stearns VIP section, and everyone around us most likely spends their weekends in the Hamptons or on their yachts, and has a coke problem. Oh, and there are cameras every 3 feet.

9:50 p.m. - The random celebrity introduction machine spits Ed Bradley onto stage, and he introduces Jimmy Buffett (again?). Ed Bradley is wearing an earring. My heart becomes sad.

9:52 p.m. - Jimmy Buffett takes the stage for an extended set. Officemate, her friend, and every pudgy white guy in the room seem to be thoroughly enjoying something called "Fins", and thrusting their hands in the air at varying angles. I am adrift in a sea of confusion. Buffett continues his brand of feel-good middle-class-island rock for roughly 6 hours, covering his entire song catalogue and several numbers by the Beatles, The Mamas and The Papas, and, oddly enough, Death Cab for Cutie, during which time I am treated to more hetero-Caucasian banker dancing. Officemate's friend even remarks that the room is filled with syncopated clapping and "White Man's Overbite". I point out that the room is also not lacking for muffin tops (when a girl wears pants that are too tight and her midline spills over
the waistband like a muffin top). We laugh.

10:08 p.m. - It becomes apparent that Ed Bradley is not only wearing an earring, but is now playing tambourine for Jimmy Buffett. I realize that if I watched 60 Minutes, I would never be able to look at him the same. But I don't watch 60 Minutes. I remain unchanged.

10:18 p.m. - Jimmy Buffett replaces the lyric "And I know...It's all my fault" in "Margaritaville" with "And I know... It's all Katrina's fault!". Too soon? Oh, I believe so.

10:23 p.m. - The length of Jimmy Buffett's set is making me want to drink. Why is everyone around me shouting "Salt! Salt! Salt!" ?

10:25 p.m. - Dave Matthews joins Jimmy Buffett on stage to sing Neil Young's "Heart of Gold". I realize several things: A) I used to love Dave Matthews B) Dave Matthews appears mildly autistic C) Dave Matthews is The go to guy for awkward banker types D) I need to download Neil Young's version (it just doesn't sound the same without the harmonica)

10:42 p.m. - Former President Bill Clinton arrives on stage to thunderous applause to introduce John Fogerty. I briefly flash back to the 90's, when things were better. Wish W had showed up, only because I was so close to the stage that I could have most likely hit him with my flip flop.

10:45 p.m. - John Fogerty is good. I suddenly realize that I used to listen to all of this music (Elton John, Creedence Clearwater, Simon and Garfunkel, Dave Matthews) when I was in college and more or less one of the people I was now laughing at. Wonder if I am a better person now, or if I had continued to hang out with people like that I might have a better job and be happier. Decide I don't care, because at least I have rhythm.

10:52 p.m. - John fogerty sings "Have You Ever Seen The Rain". I decide to download my Creedence CD, long sitting on a shelf collecting dust, to my iPod tomorrow.

11:15 p.m. - Lines borrows ticket from girl next to us in order to go pee and be able to return to our section.

11:20 p.m. - Paul Newman comes on stage to introduce (finally) Simon and Garfunkel. Lines is obviously still in the bathroom. Art Garfunkel has apparently not changed his clothes since the late 60's, and is still wearing the same white oxford shirt and black vest he donned for the concert in Central Park. Maybe that's his lucky New York City outfit. Or maybe he left it at the dry cleaners here 24 years ago and just picked it up. Whatever. If you've got a look that works, stick with it.

11:21 p.m. - Simon and Garfunkel begin their 3-song set with "Mrs. Robinson". Lines comes charging back to her seat. Paul Simon, who looks incredibly old and a lot like Mel Brooks, does some weird thing where he plays his guitar while squatting and thrusting guitar neck at audience. I am revolted, but mesmorized. They then sing "Homeward Bound". See above referenced goosebumps.

11:30 p.m. - Aaron Neville returns to the stage to join them for "Bridge Over Troubled Waters". Most of the time he looks as if someone is grinding a thumb into his lower back. And the man has a cross tattooed on his cheek. WTF?!

11:30:42 p.m. - Garfunkel garbles the first verse. Simon looks on from the shadow thinking "That is why I dropped your ass, Bitch."

11:38 p.m. - Simon and Garfunkel leave the stage. Officemate, her friend and Molly depart. Lines and I attempt to stick it out and see who the finale is. Lines scams a program from nondescript I-Banker, wherein we read that the finale will consist of the Neville Brothers singing "When The Saints Go Marching In" while a brass band marches through the audience. While the whole thing is so very New Orleans, neither Lines nor I have ever been there, nor are we big fans of songs I learned in Middle School Band, so we decide to head out.

11:59 p.m. - Lines and I leave the Garden almost 5 hours after we arrived, feeling proud that we did our part to help the hurricane victims. Until it dawns on us that we didn't pay for the tickets. Or buy the T-Shirt. Or make a donation.

12:00 p.m. - I walk home, secure in the knowledge that while I am not a better person, I'm also no worse or more apathetic than before. And I got to see Simon and Garfunkel and Elton John.


Blogger AnonymousCoworker said...

Your 9:52 pm description of Jimmy Buffet and his fans was the most perfect description of that wandering, musical catastrophe that I have ever read.

Thank you.

1:16 PM  
Blogger allison said...

Longest. Concert. In the universe.

I had a great time, though. And, despite the dancing suits, I really dug the music and stood dancing at my seat holding a bloddy tissue to my nose for most of the concert. It was like a weird dance marathon.

I loved the Mardi Gras decorations in the lobby. And the beads! Tell me you at least got some beads. Fun springing from chaos...the alternate tagline for my blog. Though, we did comment that it looked like prom upon our exit. Did you pose for your couple photo on the way out?

5:28 PM  
Blogger Cyrus said...

"Decide I don't care, because at least I have rhythm."

So beautifully introspective. Thanks.

6:22 PM  
Blogger A* said...

Hey you got 5 tickets and invitied me??


Oh wait. Ya didn't...

But the recap was totally worth it. And yes, I have been to a Jimmy Buffet concert. I know why they yell SALT! SALT! SALT!.

Oh shut up.

8:48 PM  
Blogger hofzinser said...

John Fogerty - so talented (one of the best live shows I've seen

Neil Young's HoG - You better download it. He is one of the greatest artists ever.

Oh, and as much as A* and I appreciated you inviting her and I to take two of the five tickets you got FOR FREE, we really had to clean out the coffee maker and dust the Precious Moment's dolls.

8:48 PM  

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