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Hippie Chic: Coachella Day 2 … Friday

April 12th, 2013

It was Friday in the desert. I waited as people woke up. As I get older and work more, I get used to being an early morning person. The coffee and food trucks were lined up beyond the campgrounds, in a different section even further beyond the toilets and showers. I heard you had to hit the showers early if you didn’t want to wait in line for hours.

I watched the risers to gather a picture of where I was and prepare for the experience. Frat boys. Topless. Long shorts. No body hair. Identical. Sorority girls. Daisy dukes and bikini tops. Lots of daisy dukes and bikini tops. They were all loud.

“COACHELLA!” someone would scream.

greetings

The heat weighed in heavy almost immediately.

Trent got up to a beer and a few lines of cocaine.

A couple stumbled in front of us. The girl taking the boy’s hand and pressing it against her groin while seemingly entranced in a kiss.

“And I thought true love didn’t exist,” Trent said.

“There are so many daisy dukes and bikini tops that it has become a permanent fixture in the background. Our canvas IS daisy dukes and bikini tops.”

We ventured into the festival. Though I was wide awake at 7am, I was exhausted by noon and we stumbled by something called the Do LaB to fall asleep in the grass. The music was hypnotic. It didn’t really have an identity to itself, but a comforting, predictable beat. Similar to a mother’s heart beat from inside the womb. There were layers to it that, in my opinion, achieved an echelon above the usual pop hit I spin through on the radio.

Pictures in the News

Do Lab Day

I sat up to watch the beautiful people dance. The beautiful, bronzed, thin, muscular, self-aware puppets danced. Everything was so hyper-aware. The flower in the hair. The face paint. The shoes and painted toe nails. I heard the phrase “hippie chic” on the television one day. It seemed counter intuitive. Hippie chic.

Hippie chiche

Hip·pie  /ˈhipē/  noun: a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.

Chic /SHēk/ adjective: elegantly and stylishly fashionable.

Paris Hilton

So unconventional becomes conventional. Rejection becomes acceptance. Were these girls really interested in what was happening in Afghanastan or Egypt? Had they formed opinions about Obamacare and the Affordable Healthcare Act? Were they working to reclaim their country and assume a new identity of freedom, revolution and peace?

Maybe. I couldn’t talk to them. They didn’t see me. They didn’t look for a connection. On the contrary, I stared at them. Their flat abdomens swaying in unison to a beat. The bored little hippie dolls, unmoved, uninspired, with pouty lips. They only knew how to be adored. How to be fucked like a rag doll. They didn’t hear the music. They didn’t see me or Trent, sweating alone in second hand clothes under the bright, orange awning. They didn’t see each other. All they saw was themselves. They were the center of their own universe. Walking back and forth to the outdoor toilets like it was a grassy runway. Always on their phones. Always videotaping. Always assuming they were the one person who was supposed to be noticed.

Do Lab Girls

These girls become a blur and, for once, I was thankful for the bit of chub I acquired during my first 6 months of winter. Michael was feeding me well, too well. He would still drop everything to get whatever I suddenly found a hankering for. Vegan sundaes. Candy sprinkles. Vegan nachos. Daiya cheese. Wine. Beer. Vegan pizza. Vegan pizza. Oh yes, vegan pizza. I have learned to watch what I say aloud, because he will bring me whatever I suggest. The princess treatment was appearing and reappearing in my midsection and arms. I like being skinny, but this particular weekend I liked being chubbier … if just by 5 pounds … just so I could be different.

Me and Trent

It was there, sweating, awake, mildly disgusted by the orchestration of trend and vanity, that a beautiful boy stopped to stare at me. Fat, little me. With my Princess Leia buns and vintage sun dress. He smiled at me. My cheeks burned and I looked down.

Michael knows about my weakness for male attention and sex. If you hadn’t met me but read only my blogs, you might think I prance around in diaphanous clothing, slipping behind the nearest curtain with the first available man. I am rather shy, in a way; otherwise I wouldn’t work so hard to entertain.

It was my first adventure alone, without Michael, in a privileged playground. I didn’t know if I trusted myself yet. So when the beautiful, Greek warrior stared at me with the smile, the smile that can blind one from moral obligation, I turned away. Sure, they were all snot nosed kids who spent more time on their figure and wardrobe than intellect and community. I could still smell their sweat.

The center stage was overcome by a skillfully choreographed show of alien-clad dancers. Females with popping limbs and bopping heads. Water guns were turned on the crowd. With the spray power of a garden hose, one body after another collided with a foaming charge of cold water. It looked delicious. A male dancer came towards us, front and center in the performance. His legs were covered in black latex and stretched over his shoulders in thin straps, leaving his chest and back completely exposed. The muscle in his stomach and arms worked under the perfect flesh of a tight machine. Each working part triggered another, muscles taut and pulling to another lever, another tool, a further apparatus on a flawless stringed, meat symphony.

Performers Do Lab

A ring descended from the top of the stage and stopped at the man’s face. He was crawling on the floor to the ring and broke character for one, holy moment. He grabbed the ring in one hand, and I saw him mouth the words “You can do it” before he clasped on with both hands and was raised in the air like a phoenix sprung from her body. My mouth dropped open. It was sky ballet. I wasn’t even on drugs yet.

Ring Performer at Do Lab

I turned back for Trent, who was awake. I walked through the crowd. Flower halos. Converse shoes. UCLA flags and baseball hats.

“Do you want to go back?” he asked. We needed to get drugs.

We didn’t know anyone holding extra to sell. We had to approach strangers. So we would simply ask people if they knew Molly. Most people kept their head down and their mouths shut. Though Coachella was supposed to be a collapsible community, no one wanted to venture out of their inner circles. They were uncomfortable if they were spoken to, and didn’t want to share. Of course, we were offering to pay them.

“We came prepared. Learn your lesson,” one 18-year-old blurted out to us.

“We have an unreliable drug dealer,” I said, casually.

Trent has a switch. And before they had smarted off to us, Trent was flipped. We were tired of being ignored and avoided. We were tired of people treating us like we were hobos, panhandlers or freaks. We were all there for the same reason. The walls in Indio were taller than ever.

“You are just a couple of kids, you don’t know anything,” Trent said, throwing his hand in the air and storming off.

“Why don’t you chill out!?” one said. Trent turned towards them, the whites of his eyes screaming at them for more. Feed me more.

“It’s ok. It’s not worth it. Just let it go,” I said to both of them. More to the two young men than Trent.

There was bickering and I gently pulled Trent towards our tent as the confrontation spilled and fizzled into nothing at all. It was hard. We both had been bashing most of the yuppie, white teen trash washing into the festival all day. At one point, I was picking up receipts off the ground by the ATM machine and reading off account totals. “Balance $2,004.00, $6,458.00, $11,899. FUCK YOU!” Needless to say, my balance was in the negative. Trent had struggled the first half of the day trying to remember his pin for his ATM card. He called his bank and his mother trying to figure it out before it just came to him, in the middle of a hot afternoon, while overpriced beers were spilling over rich kids’ fingers. We had plenty of food in the car from the Target run the night before. It was the feeling that we were excluded from some gradiose American experience. To run off to musical festivals with no job to get back to, no rent to pay, no car breaking down every couple weeks. To have unlimited resources to do anything you want. To just fuck off without consequence. Of course each person has their own conditions to grieve. Their own price to pay. That didn’t ease the bitterness as they paraded in front of us, noses high, money and luxury cars everywhere, and worst of all, ignoring us just like they would anywhere else. If we served them in a restaurant- which we probably did. If we mopped their floors, paid their share of taxes, bought from their family brand, we were expendable. We were invisible. And here in a paradise constructed of synthetic, pharmaceutical and musical fantasy, our fantasy was interrupted.

Frat Boy Indian

I would like to think I can be a better person. That I could let go of class and kids, the miles between the cost of my time and the cost of theirs, the year it took for Trent and I to save up for this weekend so we could feel a part of something magical and current, something that could give us the vision of a life we wanted and the commercial it has turned into. Tickets are over $300 each and continue to rise every year, making it only possible for a certain type of person to go; the type that makes sacrifices throughout their year for a ticket, or the type with a large, disposable income. To throw those two in the desert together was mephitic to the point where it was almost paralyzing.

Trent and I fed off of one another. Sneering. Glaring. Quipping. It did us no good.

Back at the campground, we met a kid who would trade us Molly for $30 and some blow. I guess cocaine was a little more exotic to that breed. Good thing our unreliable drug dealer was never short of one thing: blow.

As night fell, my sinuses tightened and I felt the onset of a migraine. I didn’t drink enough water. I used to have them all the time, but now it is rare. I have credited the dog walking for improving my circulation. When a migraine takes hold of me, it is by the throat. If I move, the pain can become so overwhelming, I am forced to vomit. My neck and head lock and I freeze. The Molly still flooded me with serotonin. My heart sped up. My eyes peeled back to reveal the world underneath the obnoxious screaming and drunk lechery.

night coachella

Beach House played. Trent was ecstatic. It was the first time he was really happy. Poor, unfortunate souls like ours feed off music. More than food and money. The music reclaims us.

Beach House

There was a string of huge balloons tied in a long rope across the sky. They were so big; you could see them from the sky, miles away. They bobbed gently in the desert wind. And over the string and gently moving balloons was a full moon. The music came to me through those large round spheres, full of human breath, moving with the Earth’s voice and I saw it. I saw the music.

The whole note.

The half note.

The crochet.

The quaver.

The breve.

The minim.

Each note danced overhead to the soft, hypnotic music.

Balloon Chain by Robert Bose Photo By Sarah Parvini

I had to lie down to keep my head still, as to reduce my physical suffering. My face buried in the cool, cool grass. The heat from the Molly extinguished on midnight dew. I remembered my Third grade teacher scolding us for pulling out the grass in the playground. “That is God’s carpet,” she said.

God’s carpet. It held me still so the music could play through me.

Music was coming from two other stages. It felt like all the instruments were colliding over my head and spilling in lost notes through my hair. The volume so loud the ground shook. My head shook as if the fingers of the musicians were pressing down on me with each cue.

I stayed there in child’s pose. Occasionally, someone would ask if I was ok. I said I was great. Better than great.

moon rise

That is when we found blow on the ground. These kids were so fucked up, they were dropping their drugs on the ground without notice. We collected the baggies.

Next on stage was the Yeah Yeah’s. Trent led me to the next stage, and I fell to the ground again. My feet behind my ass, my face planted in God’s carpet. And the music came again.

“Do you need water …?” Trent asked. “A cigarette?”

“No, I just need to be still.”

Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio

Once in a while, a drunk would step on me, trip over my back, press their foot onto my hand. They couldn’t see me. I was beneath the light. Beneath their line of vision. Swimming in the world of dreams.

“No one can see you down there,” a stranger said, trying to divert foot traffic.

“I know,” I said.

I know.

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A Shade Rather Than a Scream: Coachella 2013 Pt. 1 … The Night Before

Here I am. It is Saturday night and I am getting over a cold. The fatigue won’t leave me. My hands, my feet, my head all ache to rest in bed. The idea to rest more gets me frustrated Michael, my lover, has reminded me I have been sick for less than a week. I despise the feeling. In an effort to pick up my spirits, I am writing another entry in my much neglected blog.

***

Thursday, April 11th, 201:. Trent and I were finishing up my rounds out in Burbank. The final bit of pet sitting services on my schedule before I took three days off: The old lady recovering from cancer who needs the kitty litter box cleaned once a month. She likes to talk about rock n’ roll and politics. She always leaves the radio on, when I am not there, that is her only outlet to the world. Traffic was bad out of LA. We had to swing down to Anaheim to pick up two  boys from Mexico City we connected with on Facebook who bought the camping pass for Coachella Music Festival ahead of time. (We had neglected to do so) Then we had to stop off at a Target so we could put all our camping supplies and food on my Target card. That was the arrangement as Trent bought my ticket months in advance. And then we had to pull into the small town of Indio, California to set up camp for a three day weekend of drugs and music.

coachella-2013

Sure, there were thoughts that the two young Mexicans would slice our throats, steal my 1996 Saturn and enjoy the rest of the weekend with my Target card. We needed that camping pass though, and as we pulled into a Days Inn off the 5 freeway, I saw two young, rather innocent kids no more than 21 years of age, waiting patiently in the empty, sterile lounge through tiny, double glass doors and large luggage on their laps. One was Salvador, tall, virile and handsome. A thick head of black hair and dimples that rose and vanished under a blanket of rotating expressions. The other was a larger boy named Fernando. He was shy, with a broader face but long hair to hide behind. His nose and lips more prominent and more self-conscious.

It would become apparent that Fernando was in love with Salvador. Of course, we were all in love with Salvador. We couldn’t have found gentler and more generous souls anywhere in this big, bad world. We lucked out.

Black Betty

Just before driving into Indio, we decorated my car. There is a prize for the most decorated car, promising free entry into the following year’s Coachella Music Festival. It was then that I took out the window decal I bought over the internet. Over the rear windshield, we spread out in large pink letters, my new, used car’s name: Black Betty. As a foursome, we scratched it over glass so it would take. It wasn’t centered. Fuck it.

We drove off the freeway and followed signs to the music festival, then got in a long line of cars waiting for a camping spot assignment. Cars in front and behind us were dumping bottles of alcohol. “Yeah, you can’t bring it any glass containers,” Trent said.  At the Target parking lot, we had already poured two bottles of cheap, white wine in an emptied jug of water. It barely covered a quarter of the jug. Cans of beer were acceptable. Trent always needed a huge stock of beer.

check point

It took over an hour to gently roll Black Betty into the field where camping passes were scanned and cars were checked by security. Our security officer picked up our plastic jug. “Smart,” she said. “Ok, go on through.” We were packing some drugs but not as much as we wanted. Our Los Angeles drug dealer was rather unreliable. Somewhere between a psychotic disorder and a drug addiction, he was barely surviving in a one bedroom apartment. He lived in a pile of discarded clothes, disposable razors, emptied Snapple bottles and expensive, vintage movie posters.

lsd_flesh_of_devil_movie_poster_artOne of the last times I went to visit him, he told me “they” broke into his apartment. He threw his arms around his apartment as if I could see how much worse off everything is than it was. I couldn’t tell the difference. He pointed to the back of his front door, “See dat! Do you see dat!?” he said in a thick German accent. “It is some kind of witchcraft symbol. Cult bullshit! Dat wasn’t there before. They left dat!” I looked at him, bare chested under his leather vest with a thin, cloth scarf tied around his neck and struggled to find the symbol.

I found what appeared to be spilled coffee on the back corner of his front door.  I hadn’t heard from him since. I knew he was moving. I knew he was changing cell phone numbers. And I was unable to replenish our stash for the Coachella festivities. We knew we could buy from kids holding at Coachella.

Coachella Bitches

As we slowly rolled in, I saw bronzed, white girls in uggs and matching outfits. Midriffs and streaked, chocolate-blonde hair. They all looked identical. I had forgotten what it was to be young in mind. To long to be identical to the others. They waved neon, light tubes in the air, pretending to be a little more tipsy than the other. A little more available. Just a little different from the other. A shade of variation instead of a scream of uniquity.

I hadn’t gone to a regular University. I applied to one college: a hippie four-year school with no grades, no tests and a reputation for stoner students who are awarded academic credit in exchange for a self-constructed academia around growing marijuana. Evergreen State College was the beginning of the real me. Everything synched for the first time in my awkward, uncomfortable, painfully shy existence. Those kids listened to my music. Those kids tripped to Beatles and Pink Floyd, running through rain forests and drumming next to fires. Those kids let me feel that my instincts were leading me in the right direction. It was the beginning of my real life. I wasn’t waiting anymore: waiting to move away from my parents, waiting to get through an unenthusiastic educational institution, waiting to move out of a strip mall. Waiting to talk to people who already knew me. At 18, I was able to skip over football games and frat boys, sororities and keggers. I escaped, and somehow was brought full circle in Indio.

TheEvergreenStateCollege

Evergreen College in Olympia, WA

coachella-car-campground-eecue_32653_ibqr_l

Coachella in Indio, CA

I was shocked to see them there. My impression was that Coachella was a modern day Woodstock. A celebration of psychedelics, good music and spontaneous friendship. I tried not to hate the BMWs and the Mercedes Benzes as they all lined up in perfect order from each other. I think my car was the only model assembled prior to 2005 in our entire section. The bitterness yanked on my lower intestine as my parking break through anchor on its stretch of field and grass. I kept asking Trent, “Did they work for the money for that car?” As if any answer would heal my working class scratches and bruises, the scars and scabs that hardened and broke back open. Trent related to the feeling and we both exchanged snarky remarks as we pitched a tent in strangers’ headlights. Earlier, we watched two young girls smoke a joint like a cigarette out of their parents Lexus. We were already worked up before even entering festival grounds.

“You don’t know what you’re doing!” Trent screamed at them. They posed like we were paparazzi in my pathetic headlights. Like we envied their uniformity and money. We did envy the ease with which they slithered into our world.

Once we were settled, I hid in the tent for a quick nap. I was working my ass off with school and work. I wasn’t sleeping full nights. I rarely had a day off. I was grouchy and exhausted. When I slipped off into a starry doze with the cold desert air settling on my face and chest, I would startle to my name.

Then again.

“Just a few more minutes …” I called before feeling my body lift to the sky.

When I got up, everyone was up and celebrating with beer and pre-festivity drugs. No psychedelics yet. “We feel so sorry for you,” Salvador said.

“Every time I called your name, you woke up for a second to say you would be right out. I would just call your name out whenever we got bored and you sat right up to talk,” Trent explained, as he broke over laughing. “Your brain will not let you sleep!”

I rubbed the star dust off my face and grabbed a beer. “I am up. What time is it?”

“Two” someone answered.

Coachella-Car-Campground-at-Night-eecue_32629_a486_l

Trent and I stayed up all night terrorizing our neighbors. Two young men named Houston and Benny who were separated from their group. We may not have gravitated towards them if they moved within their pod, but they were on their own and close to us, so we went a few rounds of psychological banter and bruising before feeling a comradery. Benny was attractive. He looked to be about 20 to 21, but was tall. He had a soft face. Almond-shaped eyes. He looked down when he chuckled to fill the void. Trent and I tore him apart, asking him question after question about his sexuality, about his childhood, about his fantasies. He kept standing until dawn and one of our neighbor’s stumbled out of his tent to use the toilet. “You two could make a fortune breaking down someone’s psyche like that. I have been listening to it all night.”

Trent spilled his lovable cackle. Trent would break down pretty boys. If they were straight, it would be more fuel for the fire. I know Trent well, but I still haven’t figured out the paper puzzle for which he unfolds. How does he fall in love? How does he give himself over? How does he feel free? When he comes close to any of those great moments of being human, of manhood, he hides under fists.  The last time he was in love … it was beautiful, but complicated. Emotionally gentle but psychologically rough. Monogamous but paraded as polyandrous. I fell in love with both of them. When Trent lost him, so did I. And so the ballad fades out into the next, sad love song.

Trent at Coachella 2013

Trent at Coachella 2013

There was a typical Hollywood hot shot walking around, retreating to his tent every ten minutes for another line of coke. Another young man, somewhat attractive, promising to give me a deal on Molly. Trent didn’t trust him. We all hung out drinking beer, waiting for free coke and watching as one by one, another festival camper disappeared into the tent for a few hours of sleep before it begun.

Trent and I stood there as the sun rose. “Are we really the last ones standing?”

Then it was Friday.

sun rise

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