August 02, 2004

BOTH SIDES NOW

The weekend was spent under the cloak of deadline and young love, back on Warped for another two days, vascilating between the airconditioned den in the back of the bus, and the dense air of the central Florida heat. Holding hands. Transcribing notes. Pounding king cans of 10th Anniversary Warped Tour Water to keep from expiring.

We ate at an IHOP in Pompano Beach, outside of the concert campus fairgrounds, along a strip that offered used cars, all of them littered with red, white and blue, deflating, flaccid balloon carcasses and strings - killed by the torrential downpour, now finding graves on hot car hoods. Six lanes of freeway lined with fantastic verdancy strung with Spanish moss, all of it newly minted by the rain.

Coming back from the IHOP, long after Warped closed up shop, the last of the mohicans were loitering in front of a pizza place. One stopped us and asked, almost yelling, popping teen energy like a guyser: "Hey, did you walk all the way down there? You didn't see the bassist of Anti-Flag did you?" We did not know where there was, or all the way down there for that matter, or which young man with the mohawk was in Anti-Flag.

I tried to imagine why he needed this information, and why he had been standing at the corner for an hour, with this as the urgent question in his mind. If we had said, yes, yes - what would it have validated for him? Instead, we shrugged, in unison.

There are 650 people on Warped at this weeks tally. 3/4ths of one percent of them are in Anti-Flag.

Earlier that day, the wet, muggy heat gave way to the sky getting cut open, drenching the kids for hours. They pelted each other with mud, waiting for NOFX to take the stage. Dan and I hit catering and walked around, surveying it all. A group of young men (closer to boys, really) had sought refuge under an adult only beer patio of some sort, it was cramped, they sat indian style, hunched and had an operation of sorts going. Several handwritten signs advertised a spot under the scaffolding with them -- entrance "$1 or BOOBIES". I crouched down to check them out. I announced up to Dan "Hey, Dan, there are some little boys down here, maybe 13 or 14, they want a dollar or boobies..." - Dan squats down and starts taking their pictures. Startled, they offer a rebuttal, eyeing the implications of authority -- our All Access laminates dangling: Many girls have taken them up on their boobies offer, GLADLY. And and and they are not 13 years old. They are 19 and 20. Dude.

We stand out in the rain, Dan snapping pictures of the muddied masses yearning to be dry. The boys tough pose, arms mock-around each other - hovering touches never made official -- very mindful to maintain a distance that says, in all caps: "We're not gay. We're barely even touching." All the girls seemed drunk, they posed, batted the lashes, gave pouty sneers, struck sapphic poses with one-another, then high-fived Dan and stumbled away into the crowd like Bambi into the forest.

Sometimes I wish I had one of those nets that cartoon crime fighters had, or maybe a bamboo covered tiger trap set up next to a Taking Back Sunday autograph booth. I want to capture a couple teenagers and ask them about 77 question about three things. Spending 16 days this summer on Warped has left with me with little other than questions, all related to commerce and kid-science.

The next day, we were someplace else in Florida. I think Jacksonville. It was approximately 400 degrees all day. Sean played early and we went and checked into the Hilton, for showers and rest and internet. Our visit was coninciding with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I was wearing a bikini, a tour laminate and carrying a computer bag. I felt terribly conspicious, . I wanted to jump off the tour and hang at the SCLC conference instead.

At 10, we headed back to the bus, settled in as the the pumpkin-coach whisked our Cinderella'd azzes north to Carolina. I watched Dan and Alexei and Sean play dollar hands of Cee-lo on a fold-up camping table until I kind of had the basic premise down. (Like all places with epic strecthes of nothing to do ( jail, old folks homes) there is gambling everywhere on this tour. Namely, cee-lo and high stakes poker tounerys.) I bought in with $5. Up until that point, I had never gambled in my life. I put my five poker chips in the basin of my skirt and started rolling the dice. I started rolling triples and cee-lo's. I started making Sean kiss my hand for luck. I was up about 40, twice, then got down to my last 5 chips, as Sean had started calling 5 dollar hands.

From the that point on, I stayed up. We moved from 5$ hands, then Alexei went out. Sean upped the ante and we moved to eight, ten and 12, to 20 a hand, until Dan was out. Sean engaged me in two 50$ hands and a 100$ hand, just because he's the gambling type. I took him in all three rounds and cashed in, up 295$ - after starting with 5$. Granted, most of my earnings belonged to my boyfriend, the rest was Alexei's Odd Jobs merch money, so I felt terrible about this, really, and offered to give it all back, but they made me keep it. Everyone hated playing with me, because aside from being way too lucky, I had no idea about gambling protocol and was laughing, falling asleep or counting my chips obsessively. I kept announcing "I love gambling!" with ebullient earnestness. The fact that I am flossing about my win jinxes me ever winning again. Though I will not for sure until the rematch later this week, when I head back out to the East and rejoin the tour.

Posted by Jessica at August 2, 2004 07:52 PM | TrackBack