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Happiness is a Rolling Stones Concert (aka. I Need Stones to Keep Me Happy!)

The Rolling Stones w/ Mick Taylor

               The Rolling Stones w/ Mick Taylor

***Little did I realize, a few months back when I wrote about my friend, Barb winning a trip to New York to see the Rolling Stones (http://www.rollingstones.com,) that it would be a precursor to ‘the best night of my life!’ At that time (Nov-Dec. ’12,) we diehard Stones fans were chomping at the bit, wondering when/if/where our beloved band was ever going to tour again. We figured it had to be soon, if ever, since it was their 50th anniversary together as a band…and a unique time in rock & roll history! Monumentous! Exciting!

As much as I hate to admit it, I can’t recall where I was when I heard they were actually going to do it – the Stones would be touring! I’m sure I mustn’t have been driving in my car, or I surely would’ve crashed! I know it wasn’t from someone else, because I am always the first of my friends to hear about important musical news like this. I’m thinking it must’ve been on the internet, Facebook, or somewhere where I could’ve seen it “hot off the press.” Being a lifelong concert goer, and Stones fan, I’m signed up for all sorts of music news, so I undoubtedly received some email notification that announced the tour. And, I was ECSTATIC! I immediately contacted my three kids and told them to clear their calendars on the night the Stones were coming to our town! It had been a wish of mine to take them to see the greatest rock band in the world, if they ever toured again. And now, that time had come!

Ticket sales were only about a month after the big announcement, so things happened fast. By the grace of god, all four of us were available on Sunday, May 5, 2013 to see the boys in Oakland, California! But, buying tickets was another story. I feared being seated in the boondocks and barely being able to see the stage. Being one of their oldest and most devoted fans, I felt I should have a seat in the front row with my name engraved on it. But phooey, I didn’t. So, it was going to be a mad frenzy online, along with thousands of other nutty fans, jumping into the lottery fan pool. Ugh… But, lo and behold (and by the grace of something!) my daughter informed me that, because she was a Citibank cardholder, (https://online.citibank.com/US/Welcome.c) she had access to presale tickets! Praise the Gods of Rock & Roll!! We’d get first crack at them!

The morning of the sale, “Dot” (daughter) and I were on the phone in front of our computers – me at home, her at work. She had four co-workers ready to go when the clock struck 10:00am, and the first to get in would grab four tickets. Studying the seat map of the arena, we discussed sections and prices, all the while I was researching anything and everything I could about the upcoming show. At the last minute, I miraculously came across a posting somewhere by a British fan who had seen the Stones in England. He clearly wrote, “pay the extra money and buy tickets in the Tongue Pit – it’s the only place to be!” I suddenly became possessed by the Concert Devil, and told Dot to

Tongue Pit-Oakland, CA

                       Tongue Pit-Oakland, CA

“go for it! Buy in the Tongue Pit!” I didn’t care about the price – I was going for the big time! This was the single most historic event for this concert lover, and it was never going to happen again! So, that’s exactly what we did. Dot got into site first and by 10:03 we had four tickets in the tongue pit to see the ROLLING STONES!! My joke is that “I spent my next 42 paychecks” on tickets…but I didn’t regret it for a second! We were seeing the Stones!!!

The first time I saw the Rolling Stones was as a teenager in 1974 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco; and then again in 1977 at a ‘Day on the Green’ in Oakland; then again, and again, etc, etc. If a little birdie whispered in my ear back then that in 2013 I would be going to see them with my three grown kids, I would’ve bet my right arm, left leg, a trillion bucks, and all my future children on the impossibility of that ever happening. Glad I never made that bet, because I would’ve lost big time!!

To prepare the kids (all in their 20s, so not really ‘kids’ at all,) I researched the playlists from the “50 & Counting” concerts that took place last December, took an educated guess that they’d be the same or similar, and burned them each a copy. It ended up to be a wise decision, because that’s exactly what happened (give or take a song or three…) and they were all very familiar with the songs that night, singing along, jumping around, and basically enthralled like their mother!

MAY 5, 2013: THE ROLLING STONES IN CONCERT AT ORACLE ARENA IN OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA!! Decked out in Stones wear, we were off to the arena via BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit,) having to arrive between 5:00-6:00pm in order to get wristbands, VIP goodie bags*, and early entrance on to the floor. We went from one line to another to another, and after about an hour of this, were finally let loose inside the arena and down to the floor. I had informed the kids exactly where we would be standing “Follow me!” – a little to the right of center and as close to Keith Richards as humanly possible. And, that’s exactly what we did! It ends up that the only people between us and the stage were the camera man and the security dude. Excellent! Next, it was more waiting, talking to people around us, drinking beers, getting some food, killing time-all while the rest of the huge crowd of fans entered the arena. As showtime approached, the buzz in the tongue pit increased. The place was becoming electified…and we were excited. Then, the lights went dark…and, because I had heard that in previous concerts there was a drumline that started the show, I was expecting it tonight. But no! The stage lights lit up, a voice announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen…the Rolling Stones!” and there they were, larger than life, right in front of us – MICK, KEITH, RONNIE, CHARLIE & the rest of the band! They were so close (well, Mick and Keith were) that I could see their eyes, their wrinkles, their teeth!! Unreal! One of the first things that happened (that I’m sure no one else in the entire place noticed) was, after their first song (“Get Off of My Cloud”) Keith walked over to Ronnie Wood and wiped his nose with the back of his hand. They smiled at each other, like brothers and best friends, and went right into the next song. I was so excited I was jumping up and down like a little girl, a Rolling Stones cheerleader! Throughout the night, Keith and Ronnie both saw me (I’m sure

Keith's pick

                    Keith’s pick

Mick did, too) and acknowledged me with smiles, a wave, and I swear Keith did a solo for me (I know, it sounds crazy, but…) because he was right in front of me, we locked eyes, then he looked down at his guitar during his little solo, and then looked back up at me and mouthed something!! Of course, I couldn’t hear it or read his lips, but he smiled at me and I gave him two thumbs up! What a thrill!! And, many times during the show, he walked to the edge of the stage, right over to us, and tossed out a guitar pick each time. My youngest kid caught the first one and handed it right over to me. Atta girl! The woman next to her offered her $1000.00 for it! “You’ll have to ask my mom,” was her response. The woman asked me, but of course I refused. “I’m sorry, but I could never part with this” I told her. The next one he flung bounced onto the floor near my eldest child (Dot,) who reached down and grabbed it, as did the guy standing next to her. They got into a little tug-o-war and my kid won. But, knowing we already had one, and seeing the disappointment on the man’s face, she said, “You really want this, don’t you?” “I really do!” he told her, so she gave it to him. Atta girl… Pick #3 was thrown during the very last song, (“Satisfaction”) bounced off some hands and fell to the floor. A few people scrambled around looking, but couldn’t find it. It stayed there until after the show, when the woman who offered us money for our first pick, her friend, me and my youngest all were looking through the litter, spilled beer, and other trash for the pick that we all knew was there. And, sure enough, the young one (my kid, again) with the good eyesight found it – her second KR pick of the night!! But, being the kind kid that she is, she handed it over to the woman who so desperately wanted it. The woman gave her a huge hug, got all choked up, and her friend said, “She’s going to love you forever for that!!”

All in all, it was a wonderful night! Seeing the Stones up close and personal, getting looks, smiles, picks from them, etc. was more than I could’ve ever wanted! Being there with my kids, who loved the show as much as I did, was priceless!! When it was over, they all came up to me and thanked me for the “best night ever”, “the best concert” they had ever seen! We were walking on clouds! The Stones put on a fantastic show, beyond all expectations, and we were flying high!

During each of their shows on this “50 & Counting” tour, the guys invited a special guest to join them onstage for a

"Gimme Shelter" w/ Lisa Fischer

                        “Gimme Shelter” w/ Lisa Fischer

song. Besides Mick Taylor, who was the special guest on the whole tour, some of the others were Taj Mahal, Aaron Neville, Gwen Stefani, John Mayer, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, Bonnie Raitt, Gary Clark, Jr., etc. Our night featured Tom Waits singing “Little Red Rooster.” Of course, every night also featured Lisa Fischer* on vocals for “Gimme Shelter,” and man, did she belt it out!! Oh, we also had the San Jose State choir join the boys for “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The whole show was amazing, surreal, unreal, and historic!! In the following days I was both riding high with exhiliaration, and so sad that it was over. To think that, after a lifetime of The Stones, this might be it…fini…the end of an era. But, even if it was, it stands out as one of the best nights of my life…and, I could’ve repeated it over and over a hundred more times! The Rolling Stones, on stage after fifty years together!! I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!!

**In our goodie bags (canvas bags with the Stones logo) were a nice wool blanket with the Rolling Stones “50 Years & Counting” logo in black, red and white; a very nice hard back book called “50 & Counting…The Rolling Stones Live,” and a lanyard with a laminated “50 & Counting”  logo.

***Lisa Fischer is featured in the movie “20 Feet From Stardom” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWyUJcA8Zfo) and has been touring with the Rolling Stones since 1989.

Hot Lunch with the Weedman!!

I’ve been listening to the radio since I first discovered a transistor somewhere in my parents’ garage. (My dad used to listen to baseball games while working on his car.) Lucky for me, both my parents (especially my mother) were music lovers and we had a home full of radios, records, turntables, instruments, cassettes, and whatever else delivered tunes. Mom always had the radio on in the car when schlepping us kids around town, and I always tuned in. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I quickly fell in love with the two most popular AM radio stations of the time ~ KYA and KFRC. (It would still be a quite a few years before FM radio became popular.) Anytime I was in the vicinity of a radio, I immediately tuned in to AM 610 or 1240, and would continuously bounce back and forth between the two stations to ‘catch’ the best songs being played.

Image Fast forward to today: I still bounce between stations, and whereas I don’t necessarily have one favorite channel, there is a particular disc jockey that stands out far above the others ~ Steven Seaweed, on 107.7 The Bone! (KSAN) Not only does “The Weed Man” (http://ksanfm.dnn.cumulus.net/StevenSeaweed/TheSeaweedStory/tabid/271/Default.aspx) have quite an interesting history in the area, he is also an encyclopedia of music and has an enormous following. With his local fame and status, as well as the ability to keep the studio, microphone, and radio waves as a barrier between he and the public, Steven could easily distance himself from his listeners. But, he doesn’t. Instead, he often invites listeners into his studio, offers something called “Free Food Friday Hot Lunch,” and very hospitably entertains them. He also has tons of ‘friends’ on Facebook and is very interactive on it. He is a major supporter of local music and musicians, and in the “Bone Voyage” segment of his show, he kindly allows local bands to plug their upcoming gigs, which Steven announces every weekend. He very often has local musicians, as well as ‘well-knowns,’ visit him in the studio and interviews them on the air, or lets them plug a show. This is a man who really “pays it forward.” He is a diehard music lover and appreciator, and he is gladly using his  forum to help others in their musical pursuits.

I don’t usually request a “friend” on Facebook unless I know them personally. However, because Steven and I have mutual friends, and he started the “Have a Ball Foundation” (http://haveaballgolf.com/about-us.htm)  with one of them, and since I feel that I’ve known the man for years because of listening to him on the radio, we ended up as friends on Facebook. Well, the truth of it is, as any of you Facebookers know, “friending’ people on Facebook is no major feat. And of course, I figured I would basically be getting updates (ie. advertisements) about what is important in the Weedman’s life. However, when it’s a well-known radio personality of your time, who not only accepted your ‘friendship’ but actually takes the time to ‘inbox’ a personal “Happy Birthday” message on your birthday (can you imagine how many he has to do a day with over 5,000 friends?!) Well, that’s what started the ball rolling for my birthday celebration this year. Here is how the story goes:

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                                           The gang…

Last year, on my birthday I received a personal inbox message from Seaweed wishing me a ‘rockin’ birthday. Knowing he has an abundant number of Facebook friends, I was surprised and honored that he took the time out of his busy schedule (even if it was only 30 seconds) to send me this message. So, I answered back, telling him that he ‘made my day,’ though never expecting to hear back from him again. But, lo and behold, he responded with an invitation to come into the studio on a Friday for his “Friday Hot Lunch.” Honored by this personal invitation, I happily accepted, But, busy as my life is, I never got my act together to get down to the studio and partake in the event. So, a year later, just before my next birthday, I was feeling like a schlepp for never getting in there for this unique opportunity. I mean, it isn’t every day that you get a personal invitation from a prestigious radio DJ to come in and hang out in his studio with him! So, I thought it would be a perfect way to celebrate this year’s birthday, as I could bring in nine of my friends, too. I went through all the rigamarole to set the whole thing up, which wasn’t as easy as expected since Steven was out with pneumonia during this time and my email got lost in Limbo land. Once he returned to work, and I gathered up nine eager friends who were also up for the adventure, the day came. Two car loads of women drove up to “The Steven Seaweed Building” in downtown San Francisco. First, we stopped by the Flower Market to buy him a bunch of orange flowers (to represent our San Francisco Giants) and brought alone a card signed by our group. Upon arriving at the studio, we were sent up to his floor where we waited in the lobby. I wasn’t expecting to see a room full of long-haired rocker dudes (and their wives/girlfriends) also waiting to get in. I thought that we ten women would be it, thinking that he had a crampy little studio. It ends up, these guys were in an AC/DC tribute band, cleverly called “ADD/C” that had a show in the area that night and would be promoting it on Seaweed’s show. While we waited, we were treated to our free hot lunch, which is donated by a local restaurant. On this day, it happened to be pizzas and sodas from Amici’s Pizza. In no time, Steven came out and introduced himself to everyone and we mingled and chatted. He was like an old friend, giving me a hug, and making a point to meet all of my friends. I never expected this man to be so friendly and personable, but as the time went on, we all learned that he is much more than that. Steven Seaweed is a ‘personality,’ so charismatic and charming that he makes you feel instantly at home in his presence. There wasn’t an air of arrogance or egomania whatsoever in this man. And, it wasn’t just me that felt it…every one of my friends took to him immediately. He has the gift of spreading great vibes and kindness without an ounce of attitude.

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                                        Mr. Seaweed

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                            “Whisper whisper”

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                                On the air!

After our lunch, it was time to file into his studio and watch him in action. He has a nice ‘office’ four floors up in a room full of windows overlooking downtown San Francisco. We lined up around his ‘desk,’ which was a high-tech collection of computer gadgets and contraptions that I couldn’t begin to describe or understand. But, it was impressive! People came bearing gifts, which were delivered to him as we entered the room. During Steven’s “Hot Lunches,” which he has every weekday from noon to 1:00 (tho, Friday is the only day he includes the public, and food) he announces the theme word for that day and listeners call in to request a song that relates to that word. I’ve listened to this many times in the past, from the ‘other’ side of the radio, but today I got to see it from the inside. Interestingly, he fields the phone calls during songs, records them, then plays them when he is back on the air. His producer, Ander, is right by his side fiddling expertly on some technological gizmo that does something like line up things to get the timing right for airplay. At least, I think it was something of that nature. Meanwhile, during songs, Steven was up and out of his seat every time to make the rounds and talk to each of the twenty-odd people that were in his studio that day! He also handed out cards (similar to baseball cards) with his picture on them to everyone, because he was recently inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame. (http://bammagazine.com/index.php/archives/310-bay-area-radio-hall-of-fame-inductees-announced) It didn’t take long to figure out that he seems to have “groupies.” Many of the visitors this day were ‘regulars’ and were fans of this man. Meanwhile, I noticed that one of my friends, who happens to always have something up her sleeve, was taking him aside and whispering to him. This made me curious, as well as nervous, because you never know what this woman is up to! Was she requesting a song? Flirting with Steven? Or, could she be planning a way to put me in the spotlight because, after all, it was my birthday!! So much was going on in that studio – pictures galore were being snapped, we were amused and entertained by a DJ in action, there was an interview and ticket giveaway with one of the ADD/C band members, there were on-air requests (which reminds me, our word of the day was “THAT, “ which is one weird word to try to match with a song! But, people managed.) There was talking and schmoozing off-air, Hall of Fame cards being signed and passed out, etc, etc, so when Steven suddenly announced, “Where is Nadine?” I nearly jumped out of my skin. Uh-oh, what does he want with ME! I nervously stepped forward and he told me to come around to his side of the “desk.’ Yikes, what is going on here? I apprehensively went over to him, where he sat me on his lap. Yikes! “Are you going to make me talk on the air?” I barely managed to squeak out. No answer, as he fiddled about on his techie board. And, just as I breathed out, “Oh gawd, you are…” there he was, microphone dangling between us, speaking on air. “I have Nadine here in the studio today. Happy birthday!” I was shaking like a leaf, and barely remember responding, “Thank you, Steven.” The rest of our short conversation (what I can recall of it) went like this:

SS: “So, how old are you today, 32? 33?”

Me: “I’m 39 again…and again…and again”

SS: “39 and holding, huh?”

Me: “Yes, that’s right.” Smiling sheepishly.

SS: “Well, thanks for coming in and celebrating with us today.”

Me: “Thank you for inviting me.” Very gratefully.

SS: “Come in again some time.”

Me: “Oh, I will!” Excited!

SS: “Happy birthday.”

Me: “Thank you so much!”

I stayed seated on his lap while some more talking and announcements took place, probably so as not to disrupt the broadcast, still in a fog over what just happened. Then, when the time was right, I gave him a kiss on the cheek and stumbled back to where I had been standing. The rest of the show was a blur, as I was absolutely overcome by this unexpected twist. Thank goodness for Smart Phones, because I got some great pictures of the day, and of me on the air with the Weedman himself!

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                              Steven and the entire gang of the day!

At 1:00, the show was over. It was time to say ‘goodbyes’ and ‘thank yous’ and end the adventure. I gave Steven a big, appreciative hug, thanking him for the opportunity to be a part of this behind-the-scenes experience. He respectfully shook everyone’s hand or gave hugs and said goodbye to each and every person who was there that day. What a blast it was! And, what an honor to be in the presence of this well-known, charismatic & charming disc jockey! My friends and I were in awe, and enjoyed every minute of that day. In fact, it was so much fun that I’m thinking of making it an annual event. Happy Birthday to Me!!

Barb and Steve’s Exciting Adventure (aka. KFOG’s Winner of the Rolling Stones Contest!!)

          THE Rolling Stones!

                           THE Rolling Stones!

My friend Barb has been a loyal fan of San Francisco radio station, KFOG since it’s inception back in the ‘80s. A rabid music lover, she listens to music as much as possibly possible, which means she’s got the radio on at work most of the day. Being the fun-loving adventurer that she is, when KFOG (http://www.kfog.com) has anything to offer its listeners – free dinners, concerts, tickets to just about anything – Barb gets the itch in her dialing finger and throws fate to the wind by “going for it!” As she would say, “Why not? Right?” This “why not attitude” of Barb’s has won her a lot of things in the past, from concert tickets (Eric Clapton, Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit, Concert for Kids, Outside Lands Festival) to numerous CDs and other fun stuff.   Well, this past November, while Barb was at the office (yes, her music addiction is well-known amongst her bosses and co-workers,) KFOG made an historic announcement! They were having a contest to send a listener to New York to see the kickoff of the Rolling Stones’ “Fifty and Counting” concert at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn! The contest would last only three short days, and five people per day would qualify for the grand prize if they were the tenth caller when a Stones song was played. The contest would take place on December 3, 4 and 5, and the winner would be notified on the 6th, then flown out of San Francisco International Airport on Dec. 7 for the Dec. 8 concert! Talk about a whirlwind! For someone who has been a Rolling Stones fan since she was old enough to know who they were, Barb was thrilled by the thought of it all! And, you can bet she was going to have her radio tuned in to KFOG for this contest of a lifetime! kfog

On Monday, December 3, the contest began. Barb’s anxiety was barely controllable, but she had no choice but to keep her cool on the job and hope to be listening at the right time. But, the day came and went and, try as she might, Barb was not one of the qualifiers. Not to be discouraged, though, she knew that she had two more days to try and get her call in. “Why not? Right?” That’s right, Barb! So, when Day 2 of the contest began, she was listening intently. Sure enough, at some point during that day, she heard a Stones song enter the airwaves, and was ready to dial! And dial she did! She got through and when she heard that she was caller #10, she was ecstatic! Winning the Stones promo CD, titled ‘GRRRRR….!’ was the cherry on the top of qualifying for the trip, which she excitedly told KFOG during the call, “I already have my bags packed!” Her enthusiasm seemed to spread through the radio station as the DJs played on her excitement, playfully bantering with her during the call. Off the airwaves, she gave them the necessary information needed to “throw her into the hat” with the other qualifying contestants. Next, Barb had to sit tight and wait two very long days until the grand prize winner was announced! These days, hours, and minutes consisted of lots of exciting conversations with friends, co-workers, and everyone else she knew, about qualifying for this trip of a lifetime. She never mentioned then, but admits now (after the fact) that she felt it in her bones that she was going to win the trip. She just sensed it, and if you believe in the Law of Attraction, then you know she simply willed it. Because, sure enough, two days later she got a phone call from KFOG informing her that she had won the trip to New York to see the Rolling Stones!! Because of the timing on this event, the station actually called her, and started the paperwork rolling, before they announced it on the radio. Once the legalities were under way, they got her on the line and spoke to her on air. Of course, she explained to the listeners how it had come about, that she had been called earlier by the Station Manager, and that they were getting this thing moving right along. Barely able to control her enthusiasm, and thanking KFOG profusely, you could hear the DJs getting excited along with Barb. They knew that they had pulled the name of a worthy winner of this contest, her gratitude and appreciation overflowing!

Within the next 24 hours, KFOG had to get their flight to NY arranged, set up hotel accommodations, and organize a way to have

          With tickets in hand!!

           With tickets in hand!!

their concert tickets waiting for them. Meanwhile, Barb and her husband Steve (she won tickets for two,) were getting their things together, including informing her workplace that she wouldn’t be coming to work the next day, as well as missing Friday night’s company Christmas party where they would be acknowledging her 15th anniversary with them. (When the time came, not only did they announce it, but they added on the fact that she wasn’t there that evening to accept her kudos due to having won the contest to New York to see the Stones.) Happy Anniversary, Barb!

In the crazy whirlwind that followed, Barb and Steve managed to think of, and remember their good friend Rob, an avid Rolling Stones fan who had passed away three years earlier. For his 40th birthday, Rob had arranged for twenty of his closest friends to accompany him to the Rolling Stones concert at Pac Bell Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. Perfectly timed, the concert coincided with his birthday, so he planned for us all to go together, after pre-partying at his house, then driving over in a rented bus. It was an event to remember, and Barb and Steve did! So, what they did, since they couldn’t share this evening with Rob, was to take the memorial card that was handed out at his funeral, and bring it with them. This way Rob could be with them in spirit, and they could be comforted knowing that he was enjoying the show with them, wherever he was.

50 Years & Rob!

                     ’50 & Counting’ with Rob!

Dec. 7th, 2012: The day had arrived, with not much sleep the night before! Barb and Steve’s flight to New York was bright and early – 6:00 am – via Delta Airlines. After arriving in New York, they went directly to the hotel – The Empire – to get settled in. But, not for long, because they wanted to take in as much of this city as they could in the short time they were there! So, they scrambled off to an obvious destination spot – Times Square! They wandered around, taking in the sights. Then, over to Rockefeller Center to see the holiday lights, skating rink, and other bustling festivities. They were in awe in this magical city adorned for the season! When they got their fill, it was back for some much needed rest before the main event the following night!

The next day involved a little more sightseeing, but not too strenuous since they wanted to save their energy for the main event. However, this was Dec. 8th, the 32nd anniversary of John Lennon’s murder, and of course, two diehard music fans would never, could never, visit NYC without a trip to Strawberry Fields and the Dakota Apartments. Amazingly, because this timing, Barb and Steve were able to join about a hundred or so other Lennon fans in Central Park for the “Pilgrimage to Strawberry Fields” to celebrate his life. There were hoards of people there, gathered peacefully, some with guitars, one an actual John Lennon lookalike, singing his songs together. It was heartfelt and moving to experience the honoring of this man so many years after his death. People placed flowers, notes, candles, and other memorabilia on the “Imagine” marker in his memory. His impact on this world will obviously not be forgotten for a long time. Over at the Dakota Apartments, where Lennon lived at the time of his murder, people gathered as well, at the actual spot the shooting took place that fateful night of Dec. 8, 1980. Rest in Peace, John Lennon. And thanks for your legacy of beautiful music!

Strawberry Fields Forever!

                      Strawberry Fields Forever!

Right afterwards, Barb and Steve hopped on the subway to the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, the newly built home of the New York Nets basketball team. (http://www.barclayscenter.com) They were surprised, yet thrilled, that the train dropped them off directly in front of the arena! With their special passes (and Rob’s picture) around their necks, they entered the bustling Barclay Center. They could feel the energy electrifying the people inside. There was security everywhere, as well as the major presence of police, EMTs, whoever and whatever, to keep things civilized and running smoothly. After all, this was a special event – the first concert tour in many years, by the longest running rock & roll band in history – - the world famous Rolling Stones!! Yeah, they’re getting old, but who cares? They are the Stones – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood- back together again!

Since they had arrived early, Barb and Steve moseyed around, checking out the Stones’ souveniers and memorabilia. After buying a few small trinkets, they decided to indulge in a Nathan’s Hot Dog, (lhttp://www.nathansfamous.com/index.php/history) for nostalgia’s sake, and walk around to size up this new center. After awhile, it was time to find their seats, which were decent, but

The Loot!

                         The Loot! 

not ‘up close and personal.’ But, they didn’t care, they were happy to be there to soak up this once in a lifetime experience! Once they sat and got situated, the show began, albeit about 45 minutes late. The arena darkened, and at first there was nothing but the sound of drumming. Then, a drumline appeared, marching onto the floor behind both sides of the stage. In two lines, they drummed along the outside aisles of the floor seats, then up the middle and through the center aisle.  They were joined by cheerleader-style dancing girls, which started the buzz and excitement throughout the place. The noise, movement, and vibration energized the crowd and got their adrenaline flowing. This interlude continued for approximately 15 minutes before the Rolling Stones hit the stage. And what a stage it was! It was built in the shape of their famous logo, the big lips and tongue! Out blasted the Stones, exploding into “Get Off of My Cloud” while old black & white videos of their musical journey streamed behind them. Throughout the show, between songs, were snippets of friends and colleagues of the band sending them good cheer, wishes and congratulations for making history – achieving status as the first rock band to be together for fifty years! They played some favorite hits, some lesser known obscure songs, and some new stuff. They entertained like they were still young, with Mick running all over the stage, and Keith shredding on his guitar, with his signature raunchiness. There were a few guest singers that joined in, like Mary J. Blige who performed a “Gimme Shelter” duet with Mick; and Gary Clark, Jr., who joined them for “Goin’ Down” and got down with Keith for some guitar battling.

The approximately two and a half hour show included a good variety of songs from every Stones era – the early ‘60s stuff from their raw beginnings, to their heavy blues period, through those songs with a disco edge, to the heavier rocking era, etc. The volume of music this band has put out over the years is so vast that, when seeing them in concert for two short hours, it seems that they only cover the tip of an iceberg. But, this night they did an excellent job of bringing together a sampling of many decades of their material. They did not disappoint. Of course, they came back for the encore with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” while being backed up by the local Choir of Trinity Wall Street (http://www.trinitywallstreet.org/music/choir/meet.) Next was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and last, but not least, they ended the show with their signature song, that song that made them famous when it took American radio by storm so many years ago….”Satisfaction!” The crowd went wild!! The buzz and excitement of seeing the Stones perform their hugest hit live, just capped of this adrenaline-filled historic night! When it was all over, they all came together at the front of the stage for bows, waves, smiles, and thanks. And then they turned and walked off into the darkness…What a night! What a blast! What an unexplainable feeling to experience this once in a lifetime show! Thank you, Rolling Stones! Thank you, KFOG! Thank you, Barb for sharing your story!

The Grand Finale: The Lorraine Motel & Civil Rights Museum

                   Lorraine Motel

***And now for the most moving experience of them all, for me at least. It was the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on the balcony on April 4, 1968 before attending an event in Memphis. To see this hotel – which had been frozen in time – exactly how I remembered it from the news, movies, papers, etc, over the years was bonechilling. But, here it was in living color, for real, transported from the past, and right here in true form in the present! It was the Twilight Zone come to life – mindboggling and breath halting – to put it mildly! The Lorraine Motel has since been shut down and turned into the Civil Rights Museum. An attached building houses the history of slavery, racism, and the journey through the Civll Rights Movement. It takes you on an audio tour through two floors of the Movement, into a bus where Rosa Parks sits, shows Dr. King’s journey, then brings you to the room he had been staying in, and to the now infamous balcony where it all ended. To see the actual spot where this man took his last breath, violently and unnecessarily at the young age of 39, was beyond emotional. Though it had been forty-four years since that fateful night, it didn’t lessen the sadness of it all. What this man had accomplished in his short life only made me wonder what more he would’ve achieved had he lived. This unfair, unnecessary act of violence against such a decent and upstanding man can never be justified or forgotten.

                      The Courtyard Cars

Downstairs, in the parking lot of the Lorraine, stood two cars that were replicas of those that Mr. King and his entourage were to drive to dinner that evening. Now called ‘The Courtyard Cars,’ they stand in remembrance of the night a dream ended. Across the street was the seedy flophouse where James Earl Ray had rented a room for the night, in order to play out his plan of killing Dr. King. This was another very moving sight, to see the room, the window, the bathtub he stood in, in order to have a good perch to aim from. It was all still there, set up the way it was that fateful night, and from the window we could see the balcony where Dr. King walked out, said his last words, and took his last breath. It was rather haunting to be in the very location, the actual spot, where this historic man was gunned down. I can hardly describe the emotion, as it was surreal and deeply saddening.

In conclusion, if and when you ever have the opportunity to visit Memphis, Tennessee, the Lorraine Motel and Civil Rights Museum is an absolute must that should not be missed. Give yourself a good two to three hours to go through it slowly and with attention to detail. Yes, I tend to read every word, and stand before each display for some time (hence my nickname “Tammy Tourist”) but, it’s better to have extra time on your hands, than the frustration of having to leave before absorbing the full experience. For more on this amazing tour, see: (http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/)

With Rosa Parks on the bus

        With Rosa Parks on the bus

To sum up my trip to Memphis, I can truly say that it was one of the most moving and educational places I’ve ever been to. The history, the culture, and the ghosts that still inhabit this fabulously, famously, richly eclectic party town make Memphis a diamond in the rough, a nugget of wealth and struggle, and a place where so much happened, from sharecroppers moving in to town from the fields, to the birth of blues and rock & roll. This is a town where blacks and whites came together in brotherhood because of their love for music. But, it is also the place where racism and hatred ran so deep that a beloved warrior for peace was murdered in the name of hatred. There is a lot of spirit in Memphis, as well as lots of spirits, of the spiritual kind. If you stop and listen for awhile, and allow yourself to feel the ghosts of music past, you will know they are still there, happy and content with the town that they helped put on the map. Happy that you are visiting their beloved town. Happy that the music lives on. And happy that their legacy continues to make others happy. Conversely, the deep scar that tarnishes this town, stands still in the memory of a man that stood strong for his beliefs. He will never be forgotten, and the Lorraine Motel may not be a happy place, but it is a place devoted and dedicated to keeping the history of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. alive and real.

Memphis rocks! Do yourself a favor and walk it’s sacred grounds…Start here to plan your trip: http://www.memphistravel.com. But first, you might want to watch this video by Marc Cohn….”Walking in Memphis.” [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK5YGWS5H84]

 

 

Magical Memphis

Beale Street

                        Beale Street

***Memphis is home to some of the most amazing places! If you love music, and its history, this is the place to roam. To think that iconic bluesmen and legendary rockers walked these streets and frequented the clubs gives me chills. If only the walls could talk!!! I made tracks around this town and am happy to say I hit a lot of amazing places. From Beale Street (and all its haunts) to Graceland, the Gibson Guitar Factory, Rock & Soul Museum, Sun Studios, Lorraine Motel, Peabody Hotel, the Civil Rights Museum, and more. This place is magic!! And, it’s got a good sense of humor, too! I got a kick out of some of the signs advertising restaurants, food, and drinks, on Beale – “Put Some South in your Mouth,” “There’s a Thrill on the Hill,” “The Best Head on Beale,” “Big Ass Beer,” “Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,” etc. And, the barbecue is to die for! I had two of the most amazing rib meals ever, at Blues City Café, (http://www.bluescitycafe.com) and the Rendezvous Cafe. (http://hogsfly.com/awbbq.php?gclid=CKKu_uCRqLQCFUxxQgodpkcARw)  Eat at both places if you ever make it to Memphis!

One completely surprising occurrence that I was unaware of, was that Memphis is the home of St. Jude’s Hospital, Danny Thomas’ Hospital for sick children. I’ve known about it forever, but had no idea it was here, so it was intriguing to come upon it during a tour. “The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention,

Memorial at St. Jude's

         Memorial at St. Jude’s

for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.”  It was quite a place!

Then, there were the honky tonks that my friends in ‘Paula Harris & Blu Gruv’ band, who were here a few months earlier for the International Blues Competition, mentioned that they visited. Kudzu’s Bar is a rustic old place where the gang went to jam a few nights during their stay. I stopped in one night to check out the scene (on blues jam night) and was entertained not only by the musicians, but by the extremely friendly (and funny) bartender. He was an older guy who had probably been there for a few decades, and was the personality of the place. I imagine people come just to chat with him, and become like family there. He had only just met me, but hooked me up with a ride home when he found out that I was going to be walking back to my hotel alone. What a guy! As for the music, I noticed the biggest difference between Memphis and Northern California blues jams was the age of the performers. In California, it seems that the majority of the blues musicians are in their 50s or 60s, however in Memphis there were young’uns in their twenties (and maybe teens.) It was nice to see a few generations jamming together on one stage.

The Rock and Soul Museum and the Gibson Guitar Factory were conveniently located right across the street from each other, and a block from Beale Street! Really? How could so much musical wonderfulness be in such close proximity to

Rock & Soul Museum

    Rock & Soul Museum

each other? I was in Heaven! Inside the R&S Museum, I found antique memorabilia, such as wood cabinet radios and shareholders’ battery operated radios, circa 1930s; a handcrank record player, a 1934 Selectophone Jukebox, old guitars, radio station equipment and histories, and the list goes on. It gave us a musical tour through the birth of rock and soul music, telling the story of musical pioneers who, for the love of music, overcame racial and socio-economic barriers to create the music that shook the entire world. Much of the focus was on radio, and things that transported music to its listeners via the airwaves, record players, microphones, et al. Immediately after that tour, I took myself directly across the street to the Gibson Guitar Factory, which was a music extravaganza in itself. We got to watch as guitars were taken from their beginning as a slab of wood, cut, sanded, shaped, formed, painted, glued, strung, tuned, shined, and ready for shipping! It was so fascinating, that I seriously contemplated applying for a job to get on their assembly line. Why not move to Memphis and make Gibsons? Then I realized how truly unglamorous it would be to be holed up in a windowless factory performing a repetitive task for hours on end. No thanks! But, I sure do appreciate those who work there and creat some of the greatest musical gifts to the world. Yes, thanks!

Gibson Guitar Factory

                  Gibson Guitar Factory

The Grand Finale: The Lorraine Motel & Civil Rights Museum…

GRACELAND

***GRACELAND! Wow! Elvis’ home! Meticulously kept in its full 1970s décor, this home shows how the man lived. A large home, the

GracelandMemphis, Tennessee

Graceland
                                Memphis, Tennessee

tour groups are not allowed upstairs in order to respect Elvis’ and his family’s private space. However, there was plenty to see on these sacred grounds where the King, his family, friends, and fellow musicians gathered. I have always heard that this home was tacky, and some of it is, but I wonder if people forget that we’re talking the ‘70s here – a time when styles, décor, cars, fashion, had a reputation for being rather cheesy and gaudy. So, of course Graceland was the innocent victim of being decorated during such a tacky time in our interior designing history. But, believe me I’ve seen worse! I think. Maybe. The tour took us through the grand front door, into the foyer which looked into the roped off living room. Furnished in white, with white carpet, the focal points were the bit of color – blue curtains, sleek black coffee table, and especially the stained glass window separating this room from the piano room. With the light shining in from outside, the room was sophistically simple, sleek and sharp. Meandering through the house, the most notable rooms, besides the Living Room, in my opinion, were the Jungle Room, the TV Room, and the Game Room. Individually and uniquely decorated, each room is completely different. The Jungle Room is predominantly green, with heavy wooden furniture, carved in tiki style. I found nothing comfortable or cozy about

Jungle Room

Jungle Room

this room, and would most likely spend little time in it had I lived there. Downstairs in the basement, you will find the TV Room, with it’s black sectional couch accented with yellow pillows. In the wall are three seventies era televisions side by side, that Elvis watched simultaneously. Elvis’ personal record collection sits next to the wall of TVs, with a small, unassuming turntable, looking almost like an afterthought squeezed into the corner. I expected much more from a musician, but this room looks like it belonged to a newsman, or some other sort of television executive – except for the god-awful color scheme and décor! The yellow and black, with mirrored walls, and just plain ugly artwork painted on the wall behind the couch, is nauseating in this claustrophobic, windowless basement room. I couldn’t get out of their fast enough, but first had to snap some pictures of it, the bar, with its yellow formica counters, mirrored walls and shelves, and black appliances. Truly hideous! I don’t know how anyone spent more than a few minutes in that room! (I know, I know….it was the 1970s and all the rage!!) Anyway, after my stomach settled down, it was on to another claustrophobic underground room – the game room. This room was less tasteless, but more resemblant of

TV Room

TV Room

an acid trip with busy patterned fabric pleated and covering the walls, ceiling, furniture, etc. Yikes! The pool table in the middle of the room was the only solid block of color. The rest of the room looked like a paint factory filled with peacocks exploded inside – definitely a visual sensory overload! Enough of the inside of Graceland, now it was time to visit the grounds. Outdoors was the large lawn with Lisa Marie’s swing set still standing, the pool, and buildings that housed many of the outfits Elvis wore in various movies, pictures and paintings, awards, gold and platinum albums, guitars, and a variety of other Elvis memorabilia. He had a car collection, as well as airplanes, but the most moving experience I had here was when I stood before his grave. It gave me goosebumps! But, not only that, it seemed that the ghost of Elvis (and the Universe) constructed a way for me to be there alone. I had been with a group of people in a tour group the entire time, and now suddenly they were all gone. As I stood looking down at the graves of Elvis, his parents, his grandmother, and his twin brother*, I was overcome with emoition. My entire lifetime had

Game Room

Game Room

included Elvis, in movies, in concert, in interviews, television specials, his sudden death, his dynasty, the man, the legend, the imprint and legacy he left to the world. And, here I was, standing at his final resting place, the place I’ve heard of for so many years. As I looked down at the graves, tears welled up in my eyes and I was overcome with sadness. The sky overhead darkened, filling with rain clouds and, as the tears fell down my face, they also fell from the sky. Yes, the sky was crying with me, crying over a man who gifted us with his music, his acting, his talent, and who was taken from us too soon. Here lay a man who hit the world by storm, had it wrapped around his finger, but was still lonely and sad. Here was a man who had everything (by the world’s standards,) yet ended up with nothing (in the spiritual sense.) Here was the ending to a sad story, and the skies over Graceland and I felt it together. I thanked him for his music, and I told him how sorry I was that his life ended up as it did. No one was around, so it was just Elvis and I having a moment. I know he was there – I could feel his spirit – and he knew how much he meant to me. It was not a coincidence that I ended up in that spot alone, nor that the sky began crying at the exact time I came face to face with his resting place. These were sacred grounds, a holy place, where the spirit of Elvis remains. It moved me to tears, and it was an experience I will always remember…Thanks, Elvis!

DSC00293

Coming soon: Barbecue, St. Jude’s Hospital, Kudzu’s, Rock & Soul Museum, and the Gibson Guitar Factory

Ducks, Sun and a Million Dollar….jukebox!

(*This is the second post about my trip to Memphis. To read the first one, go to my ‘Archives’ and click on ‘August’ and it should take you to my original entry dated Aug. 12, 2012. It’s titled “Walking in Memphis.”)

                Ducks in a fountain

The Peabody Hotel (http://www.peabodymemphis.com/) is a beautiful old hotel around a couple corners from Beale Street. This top of the line, top-notch hotel has been in this historic locale since it opened in 1933. If only those walls could talk – the stories they’d tell!! One story would be about the Peabody Ducks, the fine feathered friends that march (aka. waddle) out of the elevator twice each day to make their way from their rooftop ‘palace’ down to the marble fountain in the lobby for a swim. But, before they make their appearance to a packed house, the ‘Duckmaster’ gives the gathered crowd a bit of history on these quacky critters. It all started back in the 1930s when then General Manager of the Peabody, and his pals, returned from a hunting trip three sheets to the wind, and brought with them their live duck decoys. What better place to keep them but in the hotel’s fountain in the center of the lobby? The feathered quackers caused such an enthusiastic stir amongst the guests that they have become a popular staple here for nearly 80 years! For more info on these cute quackers, see: http://www.peabodymemphis.com/peabody-ducks/.

On the complete flip side of the sightseeing coin is a truly phenomenal place for music lovers – Sun Studios.    (http://www.sunstudio.com) I don’t know where to begin in describing this place, but for me it was sacred grounds. And in fact, I found the whole city of Memphis to be. Sun is where blues exploded into rock and roll by none other than the discovery of Elvis Presley! It was started by Sam Phillips, a self taught music lover whose inexperience and lack of recording knowledge is exactly what made it all work. Besides Elvis, whose potential was actually recognized by Sam’s secretary, Marion Keisker (whom he never failed to acknowledge for this,) Sun was also responsible for the careers of Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. And, in fact, on one very notable day in early December of 1956, what has now become known as ‘The Million Dollar Quartet’ took

              Million Dollar Quartet
                 December 4, 1956

place in this very studio. Coincidentally, on that day, Elvis, Johnny, Jerry Lee and Carl all showed up at Sun at different points during the day and ended up in an impromptu jam session. This chance occurrence ended up being recorded by Sam, who let the tape continuously run throughout the jam, knowing that something special was happening right in his studio that day. Seeing the opportunity for some publicity as well, he called the local Memphis Press-Scimitar newspaper’s entertainment editor to come by, which he did. He wisely brought along a photographer, who took the famous picture of the ‘first fab four’ that hangs in the recording studio to this day.

Sun has been kept in almost its exact state since the 50s, with secretary Marion’s front office still furnished as she had it when she worked there. The studio, just on the other side of the window from her office has not been renovated, modernized, or anything since the days when Elvis recorded there. And, they still even had the very microphone he sang into! Upstairs was a museum that told the musical story of Sun and all its famous clients – Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, Roy Orbison, and all. This was the place where musical history was made, not only because it was the first studio ever to represent both black and white musicians side by side, but also because it introduced us to a new sound – one that combined blues, with gospel and country – that was eventually called ‘Rockabilly’ and ‘Rock & Roll!’ For a detailed history of this amazing place, see: (http://www.sunstudio.com/). Before, and after, the tour, you can peruse the malt shop, which acts as the gift shop, café, and waiting area. My favorite thing in this room was the old-time Wurlitzer jukebox that continuously played old 45s, flipping them

             Sun Studios Wurlitzer

on and off the turntable, just like the good ol’ days! This was the real deal, a truly vintage jukebox from a 1950s era malt shop! Not the kind you find in bars today that play CDs and/or MP3 songs off the internet. This was as old-school as they come, and I was twinkly-eyed over it. In fact, a man had to ask me to move out of the way so he could take a picture of his kid standing next to it! Oops! I was snapped out of my trance, unaware that I was hogging the Wurlitzer!  Needless to say, I walked out of that historically rich building with my head in the clouds. I was so moved that it hurt to leave, but…the rest of Memphis was calling, and there is a lot to see!!

Next up: Elvis’ Graceland

Bye, Bye, Burning Man!

***How do I sum up one of the weirdest experiences I’ve had that makes no sense at all? I guess I’ll just have to wing it~~~>

                     Cruisin’ the playa
Photo by Dan Krauss/dankrauss.blogspot.com

Burning Man is a place of creative imagination and fantasy amidst a world gone crazy – the way life should truly be lived, with no judging, ego, greed, prejudices, materialism, negativity, cruelty, limits, or boundaries. It’s a place of magical freedom to be your true and real self, where societal shackles disappear, worldly possessions have no value; names, titles, and hierarchy are non-existent. Burning Man is back to basics, where value lies in beauty – the beauty of art, of kindness, generosity, sharing,

                                  Nightfall on the playa
                                 Photo by Dan Krauss

similarities, differences, and life. The fact that a magical, spiritual place can evolve from a harsh and dismal desert is a wonder in itself. And because each and every year, the population of Burning Man grows proves that it is not just a fad, a passing phase, or a trend. It is a movement, a shift in spirit, the heart of getting back to the depths of the natural human value of LOVE. It is about being one with Mother Earth, in tune with nature, and at the mercy of a tough environment. It is a ‘city’ of campers, who work hard and play hard, talented entertainers, artists, mystics, and spiritual seekers who share their gifts, talents, and selves with others. It is where you can dress like Halloween every day, or not dress at all. To truly understand Burning Man, you must experience it. It’s not for wimps or crybabies, but it isn’t for the hardnosed and thick skinned, either. It’s for those who long to live harmoniously with their neighbors, and experience a caring family-like community. It’s a place where people work together for the greater cause, give of themselves, and get joy from helping others just because… So, if you think you have it in you, and desire to commune with strangers, I highly recommend the adventure of Burning Man. It can be a glorious journey to a new way of life, whether temporary or permanent.  Though Black Rock City may be temporary, the essence of its spirit will live on in your soul.

And, now for a few other random thoughts and snippets, here you go: ~There is no such thing as a wardrobe malfunction at Burning Man! ~ Burning man is the REAL world, and the rest of the time we live in the DEFAULT world!  ~When entering Black Rock City, you are greeted with cheers of “WELCOME HOME,” because that is where you are – HOME!  ~And, when you leave BRC and go back in to the DEFAULT world, it is considered a ‘re-entry,’ in which many people feel a letdown and have a difficult adjustment for days and weeks afterwards.

                                Fire Dancers
Photo by Dan Krauss/dankrauss.blogspot.com

BONUS: One of our HOTD campers, creative young thang that he is, went on his own little private journey to find the “Best Crotches at Burning Man!” Little did any of us know just how amusing his little video would end up being. For Allan Dixon’s humorous take on Burning Man, look here to see the eclectic variety of crotches he discovered!! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMMRPCXB3Jc)

For more information on Burning Man, see their official website at: http://www.burningman.com/

Burn, Baby, Burn!!

***I found it rather curious as to why a place that is so adamant about ‘packing it in, packing it out,’ ‘leaving no trace,’ and

                          Welcome Home!

picking up every speck of ‘MOOP’ (Matter Out of Place,) can be so careless about air quality. If they are so strict and rigid about keeping the desert meticulous, then why is it okay to pollute the heck out of its air? Almost every night in Black Rock City there was a burn. And, not just a cute little sing-along-the-campfire type burn, but a massive stand-back-100 yards-beyond-the-guards kind of burn! One night, it seemed that the whole playa went up in smoke. There were around forty works of art that met their fiery doom, all at the exact same time! These large structures barely survived four days in this city before destruction! It was crazy! Bikers were pedaling as fast as they could from one burn to the next to see which one burned the wildest, and which would crash land most violently.

               The Night the Man Burned

On a different night, Mr. Burning Man himself was sacrificed, but we all knew that was going to happen. The sad thing is, his burn isn’t even all that significant anymore with all these other bigger, and crazier burns. After he burned, the following night was “Burn Wall Street’s” inferno, which was much more intense than Mr. Man’s! “Burn Wall Street” was a mini version of New York’s Wall Street – four large ‘buildings’ to represent our nation’s greed. Each building signified the

                            “Burn Wall Street”

culprits – ‘Chaos Manhattan,’ ‘Bank of UnAmerica,’ ‘Merrill Lynched,’ and the Capitol. The whole lot was titled “Burn Wall Street” and that’s exactly what they did. It was reduced to smoke and ashes. And, on the last night, the most significant burn was that of the Temple. The temple is a ‘holy’ place, where people come to pray, reflect, remember, and cry. With its burn goes a lot of pain, sadness, and suffering. As the smoke rises, the past disippates, and renewal takes its place. Whereas, I love the idea and purpose of this, I still belive the Man should be the main focus of this event, and the one whose burning means the most. Why the Temple outshines him, and why so many other things are burned, is beyond me. It seems that the Burning Man event is run by pyromaniacs who use any and every excuse to light things afire. The thrill of the fires burned out so quickly for me that I began saying to everyone, “If you’ve seen one flame, you’ve seen ‘em all!”  Personally, I believe the new focus should be to, “Keep the air clean, let the artwork stand, and keep the big man as the big burn!”

                     The Temple goes up in smoke!

What happens….stays…..

***After six days at Burning Man, I was seriously drooping. I had no energy to do much more than sleep or lay around. The heat and dust were really getting to me, my hair was a rat’s nest, showers were few and far between (if at all,) and people were noticeably irritable. Kicking back in my tent, I picked up the BRC News and came upon an article about ‘crankiness on the playa’ being the norm by Thursday! Well, I’ll be! – it was Thursday! So, I was normal, after all. Whereas, I may not have necessarily been cranky and crabby like the article indicated, I sure was lethargic and lacking energy. I was in urgent need of a cold sponge bath and loading up on Gatorade to perk up! It helped, as did sundown when the heat of the day left us and cooler air took over. This is when I found myself more energetic and raring to go, kind of like a noncturnal animal…I was much more productive and active at night! All the rest during the day got my motor runnin’ and I’d kick into gear when the sun went down…

Free Spirits

Behavior on the Playa: There are acceptable behaviors at Burning Man that aren’t as tolerable in the Default World. Along with nudity, drugs, and sexual activity amongst consenting participants, there are things, such as playa husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, etc. Anything goes, so if you come solo to BRC (whether you are single or not in the Default World,) you may end up with a playa spouse for the week, and no one cares, judges, or condemns. In fact, many people have playa names and shelve their real names for the week, giving them the freedom to really be anonymous. However, this place is not necessarily a sexual free-for-all, though there were plenty of camps you could visit to fulfill such desires. Many couples came together, and though some were out to find a third and/or fourth person to join their twosome, not all were open for that. Flyers were distributed early in the week asking us to be sensitive to who, and what we took pictures of. With the ease of picture taking and uploading them to the internet, it can be destructive to some people. So, discretion is asked for, and highly recommended to insure anonymity. But, no matter what your reason, motive or adventure for coming to this event was, I can tell you one thing: What happens at Burning Man stays at Burning Man!

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