My father picked me up at my apartment at 5 AM and it was still dark as we drove to LAX. He's constantly worried about me, especially now that I'm out of the 9-5 world and he doesn't understand very much about either poker or writing. Not that he understood much about Hollywood either-- just that it came with a steady paycheck. I reassured him the best that I could as we headed down La Cienega, and I sketched out a mini-schedule for him of where I'd be over the next few months. Florida, LA, Las Vegas, LA, Las Vegas, LA, and then maybe Las Vegas again.
"So who are you going to see at this festival? Phish?"
"Phish broke up over 2 years ago, Dad."
"The String Cheese Incident?"
"You're on the right track, but no. And I'm not that into them and their fans are freaky. The girls wear butterfly wings and glitter and travel with hula hoops."
"So who, then?"
"Widspread Panic, Galactic, My Morning Jacket..."
"Your Morning What?"
"What kind of fucked-up name is that?"
"I think you'd like them. Maybe I'll make you a disc."
"Florida sucks. I don't know why the hell you'd want to go to Florida."
"Because festivals are fun. And I've never been there."
"It sucks. It's humid and there are crocodiles."
"Whatever, same thing."
Steve-O from Jackass was on my flight. I didn't even recognize him at first, sitting Indian-style against a pillar at the gate with his iPod on. Then some woman came up to him and gushed about how much she loved the movies and asked for his autograph. Then it clicked. While I squeezed into a window seat in coach next to a rabbi, Steve-O sat in first class and was met at the gate in Ft. Lauderdale by his dad, who greeted him with a huge bear hug.
Pauly was waiting for me just past security.
"Dude, Steve-O from Jackass was on your flight" were the first words out of his mouth. He'd just been at the newsstand and even its Pakistani cashier recognized the MTV star.
We picked up our rental car and after dropping our stuff at the hotel, headed down to Miami Shores to visit Pauly's college buddy Jerry. Jerry and his gorgeous blonde wife are the parents of two adorable fraternal twin daughters. They're only about 15 months old and already have distinctly different personalities. One is blonde and very chill while her brunette sister is clearly the dramatic one, breaking out into a wail the second her father steps out of the room.
Jerry and his girls have a ritual of taking a walk around the block right before dinner, him pulling the two of them in a red wagon. Jerry grabbed one twin and told Pauly to get the other one. Imagine my surprise when I saw Pauly come out the back door gingerly holding a little blonde baby. He looked more petrified than she did.
We had a lovely Italian meal in Jerry's lush backyard. He has an awesome pool and tons of space for entertaining. Pauly and Jerry's fraternity brother Shappy stopped by as well, on his way home from work. Shappy is a riot. He owns a real estate company, loves firing people, and once sued a famous hotel chain for $13. After meeting him, I'm changing the name of one of the characters in my screenplay to "Shappy" because it just... fits.
* * * * *
Thurday afternoon, we picked up the Joker and Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot from the airport. That night we all had tickets to both the Trey Anastasio Band and Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) shows at Revolution in Ft. Lauderdale and the Joker was concerned that there would be significant overlap with the performances. Lucky for him, three members of STS9 were sitting in our hotel lobby as we walked in. The Joker went right up to one of them and found out that their set would be running from 10 PM-1 AM. Trey went on at 8 so we had a good chance of catching both sets.
We were grabbing a pre-show beer at a bar a block away from Revolution when a crusty hippie kid approached us, looking for an extra STS9 ticket. He had hitched his way down to Florida from North Carolina, where he went to school.
"Yeah, I have a ticket. What do you want to give me for it?" probed the Joker.
"I dunno, like 30 bucks?"
"How about some rolls? You think you could get us a couple of those?"
"Yeahhhh... hang on... lemme talk to my boys."
"Well, you've got until the end of this beer."
The kid took off down the street and returned less than ten minutes later with two pink rolls. My pint of Stella was still half-full.
"Man... you guys like, MADE my weekend!" he practically squealed as he skipped down the street toward the venue.
Trey put on a solid, energetic show. We got a birds-eye view from the stage right side of the balcony. His horn section returned for this tour, and any live show is better with horns! Even shitty tunes like "Shine" sound OK with horns. Highlights of the set for me included the Phish tune "Gotta Jiboo" which closed the first set, an intense, driving "Dragonfly" and "Push on Til the Day" which closed the show. I snagged a bunch of video clips with my little digital camera and I'll throw them up once this blonde figures out how to edit them on my laptop.
After Trey's set finished, we headed to Revolution's outdoor stage where STS9 was well into their second set. Since the Joker had sold his ticket for rolls earlier, he bought another for $20 from some chick, but got denied at the door. Bunk ticket tilt! The Joker decided to listen from outside, while Pauly and I headed in and met up with Sweet Sweet Pablo and his friend Chris, who had driven down from Gainsville for the weekend. The venue was so packed it was a miracle we found them.
We joined the Joker outside just before the encores. In the 15 or so minutes we spent hanging around outside, we saw two people forceably thrown out of the venue by security, including the same guy twice. One dude was seriously fucked up, the other was a filthy-crusty wookie with no shoes. Dozens of hippie kids turned the sidewalk into an impromptu dance party as STS9 sailed through the encores. A lone crocheted purse hung from a nearby tree branch as they flailed their limbs.
There wasn't a huge lot scene after the shows, save for the hiss of a few rogue tanks of nitrous aka hippie crack. Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot quit his illegal dice game winner, putting him in a rare good mood, so we piled into the Jeep and headed back to our hotel for a little R&R.
We still had three days to go.