the three day thriller (or, another 20 years).
it’s not often that i have an action packed weekend. some peeps i know have their dance cards filled continuously. we all know them. people who’s phones are ringing every 15 minutes during what is supposed to be dinner and drinks between friends. people that you see every now and then on the way to something else. i’m more of the type that will have a weekend with absolutely nothing to do, no calls, no invitations, nothing. i assume i can chalk that up to being in a relationship but that in and of itself is another blog coming. i’ll just call them periods of reflection (not that i’m navel gazing or doing anything deeper than washing clothes, changing litter boxes or zoning out on the couch). when i was younger, i was terrified of not having enough to do but during the last ten years, i came to be quite comfortable with laying around on my ass and looking at those weekends as opportunities to hit the reset button. oh, but, every now and then a weekend will crop up with more than i can handle. i will burn twice as hard and leave an wasted husk for monday mornings.
my office is offering half day fridays this summer and with luck, mine coincided with the seun kuti and egypt 80 concert that night in the california plaza. downtown l.a. boasts this plethora of summer festivals better known as grand performances. free concerts with an eclectic range of international musical talent that bring all of the beautiful people, the freaks, the hipsters and the down and out together under one starless city sky. seun kuti is none other than the son of the godfather of afro funk, fela kuti and brother in blood and spirit to femi kuti.
the night offered no relief from the heat itself but at least the sun was no longer beating down on our heads. andrew and i walked out of our place and up one block to bunker hill. you could hear the beats as soon as we opened the lobby door and suddenly it was worth every penny we paid to know we were within steps of the cultural epicenter of downtown. the crowd was jumpin’ and the plaza was packed beyond capacity. all ages, races and economic strata turned out to beat the swelter of the stuffy indoors with a top notch concert made all the sweeter by being free. as usual, any musical show that is headed by one of the kuti progeny comes with three over the top backup singers/dancers. these women shimmied, shook and stomped through two fifty minute sets while still carrying their vocal weight and there was more than one sistah out in the audience trying to emulate (usually the most exercise since the start of this year). the night wore on with fantastic opportunities for people watching including a stroll past my favorite gay ranchero bar. followed this evening up with a walk to pete’s and a cold hefeweisen and it was the perfect cap on my friday.
my saturday night wasn’t going to be outdone. unh uh, the alarm cracked off at 7a.m. and i was in full swing once again. only this time, the stakes were higher! as the right of passage for any high school graduate, there comes the inevitable twenty year reunion. having graduated from the high school for the arts in 87, our reunion actually comes a year late. with only fifty in our graduating class and being the first graduating class ever, i guess it made sense to combine with the classes of 88 and 89. i won’t spend too much time lingering over the disaster of the location, the venue, the food, lack of air and so forth. suffice to say, i was happy to see a few people whom i’d lost track of. nothing had changed in terms of social hierarchies. some people hadn’t grown emotionally beyond their hormones preferring to leave their hearts and minds in the locked position. others had mellowed and sweetened considerably paving the way for renewed friendships and acquaintances which made me decide to forgo the mauser i had tucked away in trunk of my cooper. the anticipation of the evening was met in a way that truly made me focus on the people and the golden opportunity i’d been presented with. so i’m going to make the most of it and try to cultivate these threads into some durable friendships.
sunday night wasn’t any slower. with the warm weather in l.a. comes all of the music festivals. from hootenanny’s to block parties, street fairs and artwalks, there’s something jumping off almost every day of the week. (not that there is a lacking of live music during the rest of the year.) the hollywood bowl is probably one of the oldest concert venues in so cal and boasts the who’s who of musicality. playing the bowl brings a credibility to you as an artist that places you heads above the rest. you’ve not only arrived, you’re considered to have made a valuable contribution (although lauryn hill puts a question mark on that). our line up was thievery corporation, the beautiful bebel gilberto, los amigos invisibles and federico aubele. i was especially chuffed about los amigos and aubele. two bands from venezuela and argentina respectively.
i had known about this talent for the past three years or so and having just come back from south america, i was really excited to see them live. they didn’t let me down although we missed half of aubele by the time we arrived. los amigos was just as much fun as i’d thought they’d be and there wasn’t an ass left in a seat when they got into full swing. (there’s something about them that summarizes 70’s sleeze but in a fun, family way! superfucker, anyone?) places like the bowl and grand performances make my summers. some smooth wine or champagne (hell, even a cheap beer if you catch me right), treats to nibble on, the occasional ‘special’ brownie and loads of lovely people enjoying lovely music. that and the warmth of summer make me feel as though i’m thawing out and coming back to life after months of silence. don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of music year round but nothing complements it more than the hedonism of the sun months. and at that moment last night, it all comes together for me, when i realize just how sweet it is.