“A Song-by-Song Coachella Refusal”

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The following is an excerpt from a piece featured on The Style Con:

Dear Coachella,

I’m not going to be visiting you this year, just like I didn’t visit you last year or the year before that or the year before that. And this isn’t because you’ve turned into a very expensive shadow of what you once were. It is not because of the 18-year-olds running around with their butt cheeks hanging out, wearing fashionable boots that are 100% season-inappropriate. It’s not about the vegan trucks (love those) or the $1000 VIP passes (pretty expensive cage, no?). Nor is it about the eight hours it once took me five years ago to drive from the San Fernando Valley into the crowded Indio Polo Field parking lot, only to miss 90% of the shows and hate most of my friends for no reason.

No, it is none of these things.

 

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“Instagram and Coachella: #Confused”

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The following is an excerpt from a piece originally featured on The Style Con:

Weren’t at Coachella this weekend? Great. Neither were we. But it was 70 glorious g-damn degrees in New York so who cares? Also, abstaining from what has become one of the country’s #1 shitshows probably means you don’t have one of a number of things acquired over the last few days, namely a sunburn and a fun STD. If you’re still bummed you missed out on the fashion photo opp of your lifetime a weekend of amazing music, we’ve dug through the, like, million of unfortunately tagged photos on Instagram and found the worst of the worst to suck that salt right out of the wound. These shots will make you happy you just stayed home and made your dog brunch.

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Coachella as a Labor of Love

As a (now former) Angeleno and avid music lover, Coachella has always been an annual “Must Do.”  In theory, the festival presents itself as the ultimate opportunity to fulfill every ADD musical taste bud you’ve ever had.  Countless bands over the course of three days take multiple stages and play to everyone’s respective heart’s delight.  It’s an audio orgy.

In practice, Coachella is a litmus test for life.  Just how bad do you want this?  Just how bad do you want to party, to dance, to see bands that you’ve been listening to religiously for weeks or years?  What are you willing to do to make this work?  Coachella isn’t just about music; it’s about a test of mettle.  In this way, Coachella is a lot like love and the getting there is like a relationship.  Love being the goal, of course, and everything else being the navigation of bullshit that it requires.

Coachella vs. Love

1.  Money

I’ve never been the boy in a relationship for obvious reasons, but I’ve heard rumors that dating a bitch can be quite costly.  These are the early stages, of course, when courtship and con-artistry is key to the panty dropping that sometimes leads to accidental love.  Whoops.  These are the first dates, the ones that boys insist on paying for to assume the role of “chivalrous gentleman.”  Dinners, movies, general gallivanting.  Boys, it’s pricey to get laid these days.

Coachella is much like the aforementioned “bitch.”  They’re both expensive.  To get there, you need to fill up your gas tank to the brim.  It’s over a 300-mile round-trip, not including the idling you’ll do for hours on end, burning fuel like we’re not in the middle of a global warming epidemic.  Next, you’ll need some sort of ticket.  That’ll cost you just shy of $300.  Lodging is also required.  Food, unless you’re a tweaker, is yet another expense.  Drugs, if you are a tweaker, will cost you some cash.

Be prepared to break that piggy bank, boys and girls.  This bitch ain’t cheap.

2.  Primping and Preening

In order to get a gentleman or lady friend, it is preferable to have good taste and grooming.  Look like you shower sometimes.  Have your clothing free of obvious stains and sweat circles.  Oh, nevermind.  None of these things are an imperative at Coachella.  Allow me to rephrase.  In both situations – in dating and Coachella – playing the part is part of the game.  You want to marry a rich dude?  Look like a rich dude’s bitch.  You want to look like really fucking super hip?  Do that.

The only way you’ll ever make it onto the subsequent Coachella fashion blogs is to dress as cool as you possibly can.  Out cool the cool people, as it were.  Don’t match on purpose.  Pull out eight of your favorite vintage lace pieces and layer the hell out of them.  Cover yourself in body paint.  Shave your head.  If you don’t feel like shaving your head, find a unicorn costume and wear that.

I can assure you, despite the way it might appear, Coachella is not about the effortless cool.  You have to try.  I know people who plan their festival outfits weeks in advance.  Each item is a carefully chosen, thought out item that the wearer believes best represents them as an individual.  Fashion as depth [insert entertained laughter here].

3.  Effort

Be prepared to work.  As the cliché goes, the best things in life ain’t easy.  The best things in life require effort.  In life, in love, in Coachella.  If your girlfriend is a hard-core Vegan and you’re madly in love with her, you’re going to have to chow down on some seitan a few times to prove it.  If you dream about Jay Z in your sleep and you’d rather die than miss him rap while wearing sunglasses at night, you’re going to have to deal with the fact that it’s going to take you time and money to do so.  If it means that much to you, you’ll do it.

Trust me, being single is a lot easier than being in a relationship (with the occasional bout of self-confidence obliterating loneliness) and going to Coachella is a shit ton more work than not going.

4.  Selective Amnesia

Every year, there is inevitably one point during Coachella – maybe in the midst of heat stroke, maybe after accidentally peeing on your own foot in a Porta Potty, maybe after forking out $40 in bottled water – when you think, Maybe this year will be my last year…Maybe I’m just not cut out for this.

Despite whatever amazing bands you’ve seen over the course of the last 48 hours, you’ll be driving the 150 or 1000 miles back from whence you came, your eyes barely open and a free hand rubbing aloe vera on your sunburned shoulders, smearing Neosporin on your blistered feet, and nursing some impending anxiety about your upcoming credit card statement.  Somewhere in that moment, you’ll question your sanity.  Who the hell does this to themselves?

Such is with love.

After someone you love – someone you’ve watched in their sleep just to see what the person you’re in love with looks like in total baby-like repose, someone you’ve cooked dinners with, met the family of, cuddled night after night after night – when that person says to you, “Hey, uh, yeah, I don’t think I love you anymore,” your heart shatters and you cry and you say to yourself, “Never again…I mean, not [sob] for awhile [sob]…Or maybe ever…I don’t know [wail].”

But inevitably, enough time passes and you forget the bad things about loving someone so much, the hurt that comes when it doesn’t work out, and you remember what love feels like when love feels good.  And you do it all over again.

Any doubt I have about Coachella eventually gets trumped with memories like Jose Gonzalez’s guitar picking under a tent, dancing barefoot to Arcade Fire, lying down under the stars during Sigur Ros, watching Bjork’s bizarre costume essentially dance itself on stage.  The excitement takes over like tingles.  The potential for magic is so readily there, you just can’t say no to it…even if it does kick you in the ass sometimes.

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Coachella 2010: Getting there is (way freaking more than) Half the Journey

It’s Friday at 11 AM.  I get a phone call from a friend saying he has a ticket for me and, even better, it’s free.  I want to leap through the phone and squeeze his cheeks but I can’t so I resort to saying “I fucking love you” while sitting next to my mother driving on the 101.  The shows start in an hour and I’m already late.  It’s go time.

Before I left New York I had packed specific items for my Coachella adventure.  Coachella is like a fashion battleground.  Be prepared for war.  The first was a see-through calf-length black lace skirt from The Limited 1987 Collection and the second was a see-through cheetah print skirt, also knee-length and with an elastic waistband.  Kelly Kapowski dreamed about this shit in her sleep.

But, as is the case sometimes, my stylistic impulses go unrewarded and in the end I can’t be bothered with picking the right undergarments to put on display for 75,000 concertgoers.  In a rush, I throw on the first thing I see rolled up in a ball in my old bedroom: a leopard print, tie-at-the-waist dress that I tear the shoulder pads out of while standing next to my sink.  When I turn around I remember that I need to pin up the slit in the back of the skirt that allows a full view of both butt cheeks.  Now, that won’t do.

By the time I leave, it’s already 1 PM.  I have wasted two hours farting around and drinking lattes while my mom walks me through her new and improved backyard.  The first band I want to see goes on around 4 and Indio is only two and a half hours away.  What’s the rush?

As I pull onto the 101 from Woodland Hills, I already see brake lights.  Unless there is an accident in the next two miles causing the holdup, this is generally a bad sign.  It’s twenty-five miles to downtown and if my jumpstart into this journey is off to a roaring 18 MPH, I’m pretty much screwed.  But as I continue driving I realize there’s no accident, there’s just a billion people living in Los Angeles now and every one of them feels the need to be on my damn freeway.

The 101 is so bad that when the 405 presents itself as a potentially faster moving option, I get on it.  Anyone who has ever lived in LA knows that to fully commit to the 405 is borderline suicide.  But today, I mean business.  I’m getting to Indio, no matter what.

While the 405 is actually 1/10th of the hideous beast it usually is, the 10 proves to be a real bitch.  It takes me so long to get from the Fairfax exit to the La Brea exit, that I’ve forgotten I’m even on the 10 Freeway.  My brain is actually having difficulty perceiving just how slow I am traveling.  Frankly, I could walk faster.

Two and a half hours later and I have traveled 48.2 miles.  I’m honestly contemplating just heading back to LA and calling it a day.  My average speed has been a paltry 20-ish MPH.  The prospect of seeing a few of my favorite acts perform in the flesh is becoming a total fantasy.  I’ve got over one hundred miles to go.  La Roux at 5 PM?  Yeah, let me know how that goes.

Had I known I would be in the car for this many consecutive hours, I would have packed provisions.  All I grabbed from my mother’s house was a box of gluten free brown rice crackers and some trail mix, both of which fall between my legs and get stuck in the cracks of my seat.  I have run out of water hours ago, but that’s probably for the best.  As Puffy once said, “More water, more pit stops.”

Only when I am thirty miles out of Indio am I actually able to get my car up to 60 MPH.  Sweet release.  I drive past the giant windmills while rubbing life back into the sides of my legs that went numb around 4 PM.  When I exit the freeway at Washington Blvd.  It is roughly 6 PM.  Five hours.  Five freaking hours.

But wait, there’s more.

Getting off at Washington turns out to be a brief and blessed accident.  The road is suspiciously clear and for a second I think, Is Coachella even happening today?  The lack of parking-lot dense traffic is both welcome and confusing.  When I reach 48th Avenue I remember I need to take a left and head in the direction of the polo fields.  Still clear.  Weird.

Nearing Jefferson Blvd, traffic begins to grind to a halt.  From this point forward, I could theoretically turn my car off, put it in neutral, and push it for the next mile – a journey that takes me another two and a half hours.

What do you do while sitting in a car for that long, you ask?  Allow me to enlighten you.  The following are from notes I took in my Moleskin while driving.

Words from Hades:

“Wind blows through palm and citrus trees and through my sort of natural blonde hair.  An hour on Jefferson so far.  8 billion people walk past me.  The sun goes down.  No need for sun block today.   A man the color of old cheap chocolate rides past me on a bicycle.  I wish I drove a Prius.  Two emaciated boys in front of me play Chinese Fire Drill in a blue Honda Civic, although “drill” infers a sense of urgency, but there’s nowhere to go so that’s hardly the case.  People throw cigarette butts out of windows.  Some boy in obnoxious neon glasses yells for me to give him my ticket because I’m by myself and “going solo to Coachella isn’t cool!”  I resist the urge to get out of my car and punch him in his stupid face.  They pass by me quickly.  I get out and stretch my hamstrings.  I turn on my headlights.  Somewhere on my dashboard “2:00h” blinks for the third time today.  Six hours.  Motherfucker.  I’m approaching about the same travel time as my flight from New York to Burbank yesterday.  Yesterday!  Good Lord, my hips hurt.  I get out and stretch again.  I feel like taking a piss in the rosebushes because it’s already been two hours since I got off of the freeway.  A girl most likely on drugs sits down on the side of the road in protest while a boy in a green shirt, presumably her boyfriend, pleads with her to get up.  He pulls on her skinny arms attached to a skinny torso barely covered with denim overalls and a bikini top.  She pulls herself upright and travels lazily forward.  Oh youth.  Fuck this traffic.”

At 8:20 PM I pull into a parking spot in the last lot at the polo fields, totally ready to not rabble rouse.

Sigh.

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