Thursday, April 16, 2009

Since the End of World War 2

3 hours ago I was called to do a camera check at the "Outdoor Stage" at the Coachella festival. I was on the film crew and we needed to sync the audio and video for the webcast.

At 1st I was bummed that I had more work to do... I have lived in the area within a 20 minute drive from the venue and managed to miss every annual Coachella Festival ever put on, a tradition I will most likely continue this year. Besides, I only wanted to see 4 acts, Paul MCCartney (who I actually dislike the most out of any Beatle and was only interested in seeing so I could say I did), Leonard Cohen, who I REALLY dig for many reasons, Crystal Method for novelty, and Groove Armada because I think they might put on a fun set.

I don't really like festivals anyway because you have to choose who you miss AND particularly this one because it is really hot as a general rule at this time of year in the desert. Yesterday was rather cold and windy which made the 7 or so MILES of video cable I was part of laying much more tolerable (if you see any of the webcast this year, you're welcome for my part in helping you see it).

We did the hard work yesterday, so today our bodies were a little hurt and it was much hotter today, and we thought we had done what we needed and were on standby until we were cut at the 10 hour mark. After today, only one more shift of "work" to go...

I was also thinking about what I had to do tonight (and still have to do). Pack up my life in one of only 3 places. All of it going to the trash, to storage or in my car as I begin a new chapter in my life. I am beginning the process of intentional homelessness and going to stay with Imaya for a few weeks for her graduation prior to my tornado chasing and Phish tour. Due to some strange car problems and space and time limitations, tonight I pack after a full 10 hour day outside and in 12 hours I pick up the U Haul to put my stuff in storage. I will be lucky if I get any sleep at all, and I was already beat from yesterday.

So I wasn't in the mood to do any work, and when the call came in, I wasn't exactly thrilled. But I am a good worker and went toward the "Outdoor Stage" since it was the closest to my location for laziness sake. I thought there were 2 cameras there, and saw 2 of my crew on the way to that stage, so I figured they had dibs so I started heading to the main stage, the "Coachella Stage" which had like 8 cameras.

An old friend from my crew who was heading to the "Outdoor Stage" ahead of me stopped me from going to the "Coachella Stage" and mentioned there were 3 cameras there, not 2. So I went there and grabbed the handheld camera positioned dead center stage between the crowd barrier and the stage.

The process of syncing the webcast audio and video consists of the camera getting closeups for several minutes of an audio technician alternately counting to 10 and clapping. As you can tell, I was really excited about the prospect of this task.

But then it happened, Leonard Cohen and his band surprised our crew took the stage for his soundcheck. He will be Fridays headliner on the "Outdoor Stage" opposite McCartney. And he would have been the only reason I would have even wanted to attend the festival in the first place.

So I did what any cameraman would do and started pointing my camera at him. Well, his manager freaked and made all the camera crew put our cameras down. But we hadn't synced yet... so I was again on standby but this time less then 20 feet from Leonard Cohen and his band, closer and with a better view than anyone with a paying ticket could have possibly had. And they began their soundcheck.

If you have never witnessed a sound check, it can be as few as one or two songs, and generally 3 is the norm. 3 Songs with lots of fine tuning and stopping and starting songs to get the monitors just right for the band to hear each other played fairly lackluster is a typical standard soundcheck. It usually underwhelms. Mr. Cohen and his amazing band had other plans.

He played almost every song I knew from him and a bunch I didn't, maybe close to an hour, during which a crowd had formed and him and his band went into full blown performer mode... and what a performance he gave the 40 or so of us various crew.

During the surprise afternoon performance I lucked out by attending, which I surely had the best seat in the house for (and was being paid to watch), I had an epiphany... all my worries and fears about the odd choice to put my "life" on hold so I could go out and live disappeared.

For about 5 or 6 years I have had a hard time living. I have existed, in a rut, getting up and going to work to survive, not to live. I was an ugly little caterpillar inching around not sure what I was doing or why.

After Imaya made me go to Hampton to see Phish's reunion on my 34th birthday, I rediscovered joy, love, life, and living again... and that was the basis in which we both decided to take a leap of faith, hit the road, and go on living and forget about existing once we were graced with tickets this summer to very hard to get shows. And there have been weird little setbacks, and as little as a week ago, it almost looked like it might not happen the way we needed it to happen to have what we felt was essential for us to survive with. But then miracles kept happening, over and over, in a very short period of time and everything worked out.

God LOVES Skee Ball and I have wasted a lot of time not playing for him, and I was worried about playing skee ball... I was nervous, scared, doubtful... but tonight, the wonderful Mr. Leonard Cohen provided my epiphany.

My cocoon has cracked today, and in just hours, this butterfly will take flight and enter on a long overdue game of skee ball across this beautiful country of ours. And meet lots of beautiful people. And hopefully, do lots of good for people as well. I hope you, dear reader, are one of them.

I have many people to thank for this opportunity. I am only going to name a few. Imaya, of course, for helping me find the person inside myself that I used to like. My mom, for putting up with a lot of bad shit from me and overextending herself to help me time and again, often without proper thanks from me. To my Godmother, Vamparrot, for too much to mention. To Ron and Shirley for making my car healthy basically at cost when it looked like it was going to die. To Gregg and Suzanne, not just for the opportunity to go chasing tornadoes and the work, but for showing me through their new beautiful baby boy (12 days old today) how precious and amazing and what a gift life truly is. To Damian for always being there and helping me get where I am today. To the people who kept me working this year when it was lean for so many. To the people who have offered Imaya and I a couch to crash on during our travels. To Phish for getting their act together and doing what God put them on this earth to do. To the Grateful Dead and all their prankster pals for helping to start this bus. To Brian for putting me on this call. To Scott for telling me about the third camera at the "Outdoor Stage" (truly brother, all is finally now forgiven... it took awhile but I forgive you). And so many others, I can't even begin to name them all but I hope they feel the warmth I am sending them. And most of all, to God. I owe you some skee ball, and I hope I do right by you.

And its real and it wont go away, oh no
I cant get around and I cant run away
I need a miracle every day.



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