Flowers in your hair

I heard the crowd roar in the distance and if I tilted my head a certain way, I could see Wesley Schultz’s beard on the big screen. (I live in L.A. now, prepare yourself for a barrage of name drops).

A slight hiccup in my otherwise perfectly timed festival schedule now made me late to The Lumineers‘ set at BottleRock. I had already committed 50 minutes to standing in line for dinner and I was just 10 people away from the window. Sure, music festivals may seem like whimsical drug-laced fun, but if you’re serious about catching as many acts as your ears can physically handle without bleeding, then you haz needz to have a plan – and stick to it. Otherwise, you’ll end up hangry while listening to a local band that plays Billy Joel covers on kazoo.

It was the last day of the festival and up to that moment, everything had gone as planned…even better than expected. And now I just needed sustenance to get me through the final stretch, as I was going to need the extra carbs to dance and scream to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (It took everything not to mention all of them by name just now. Los Angeles in the house!)

Prior to The Lumineers taking the stage, Darren Criss (GleeHedwig and the Angry Inch and the name that I just dropped) darted through my food line to head toward the main stage, along with a long conga line of concert goers, so when a flower-crowned young woman in a white dress said, “Excuse me,” I immediately took a step back to let her through.

Only she didn’t want through, she wanted in.

“She is very hungry,” she said pointing to a perfect 6-year-old blonde, blue-eyed girl.

“Me too” I said in that way you answer and look away when a stranger engages you in unwelcome small talk while trying to listen to Neyla Pekarek on cello.

Nonetheless she continued, “The line is like an hour long and she is very hungry. She is a child and can’t wait.”

Wait. What? This woman is serious. I looked at her in disbelief. I looked at the people in line around me in disbelief. After 50 minutes standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them, they were my new best friends, so it wasn’t weird. Steve, one of my new BFFs, said, “Wow, she’s using the kid card.” (Steve is probably not accurate, but I hadn’t dropped a name in a whole paragraph).

Clearly this woman, being incredibly attractive, like a French Jemima Kirke, was not expecting much of a push back, let alone such harsh judgement. So, she continued her ramble, “When you have a kid, they don’t understand to wait. And the line is very long.” She repeated, “The line is like an hour long.”

“I’m aware how long the line is because I’m in it,” my face transformed and my (h)anger was surely palpable. “Go ahead.” I let them in. She thanked me profusely, but I didn’t engage. I was in a silent internal rage. I couldn’t hear The Lumineers anymore. I could just hear my heartbeat and that terrible voice that lives inside of me saying all of the following things:

  • She played you like a fool.
  • You let her in because she’s hot, even though she’s wearing that ridiculous last-season-Coachella flower crown.
  • That’s not even her kid.
  • She is holding a beer. I wonder if she stood in line for it or used the kid to cut for it?
  • If the kid was really hungry, she would’ve been crying.
  • If the kid was really hungry, she would’ve asked to cut at the front of the line, not 10 deep.
  • You could’ve said no.

That was the only part of my internal monologue that was true. I could’ve said no. But I didn’t. Because it’s not the kid’s fault that her parent (but most likely guardian) is an idiot. And what’s two more minutes of waiting versus a lifetime of that little girl’s face popping-up in my head every night before going to sleep with a dubbed over voice saying, “I’m hungry, so hungry.”

I calmed myself and resumed listening to the distant chants of Ho, Hey. It was fine. This wasn’t going to ruin my perfect weekend in Napa. I envisioned grabbing my grilled cheese, plopping down on my blanket and enjoying the rest of the show.

But when it was finally her turn at the window, she didn’t know what to order…so I fucking lost my mind again.

Scissor sisters

“Are you sisters?” is the most common question I field from strangers when I’m with my wife. “No,” we usually answer in unison, only she smiles while I scowl.

This question angers me for many reasons, but mainly because I resent the implication that I’m fucking my sister. Take note, it’s a very fine line between pleasant small talk and incest.

It also angers me because I’m certain that we look nothing alike. I am the proud owner of a prominent nose, a set of wild eyebrows and prematurely sagging jowls, while her features are perfectly proportioned and her skin makes porcelain jealous. She is polished and put together, while my distinct (and hard to pin-point) fashion style and general demeanor ranges from messy to possibly unstable.

Less than a week from last being asked if we were sisters, and offering the questioner my most disgusted look, I found myself practicing her smile in front of our bathroom mirror where I had propped up her driver’s license.

Ho Hey

“You know how I’m signed up to The Lumineer’s mailing list?” she asked as I was serving dinner. “Well, I got an invite to a secret concert.”

My excitement was cut short when she explained that it was not a two-person invite.

“I love you so much,” she said. “I can’t imagine enjoying the show without you.”

I stood in the kitchen with a hand on my hip and the other one holding tongs and considered to wait until after dinner to tell her that I would gladly take her ticket and leave her behind without hesitation or guilt. Instead, I decided to say it right then and there because, let’s face it, I’m an asshole. I began my blurt with, “I love you too, but…I can’t let that ticket go to waste.”

We sat down to eat and continued the conversation.

“It’s not a ticket I can give you,” she said. “You need to show my ID.”

IMG_0288Big Parade 

She left for work that morning and also left behind her state-issued identification card
along with a print out of the email confirming her invitation, which contained a long list of demands:

  • Be in the lobby at 6 o’clock sharp
  • No additional friends or family members will be allowed in
  • Absolutely no mobile phones, cameras or recording devices
  • A state-issued ID is required to enter the show

Throughout the day I was particularly busy with work, but every once and again I’d remember what was ahead. But instead of rejoicing, I would descend the downward spiral. At best, they would take one look at my ID and deny my entry in the most embarrassing way possible. At worst, they would call the cops and arrest me for impersonating a librarian. To avoid either scenario, I decided to practice her smile.


But the more I tried, the less and less I looked like her and the more and more I looked like a psychopath about to have a mental break.

Stubborn Love

Not before long, I headed out to the theater. I locked my phone in the car and walked right up to the check-in table armed with nothing but an ID that clearly was not mine.

I was nervous, suspiciously sweaty and smiling wildly. For some reason I kept repeating my wife’s name in my head in the event that I would suddenly blank out.

“ID?” the young lady at the desk asked.

I handed her the piece of plastic and she checked my fake name off of the list and wrapped a black wristband around my arm. She took one more look at the license as she picked it up to hand it back to me. We locked eyes and she said, “Enjoy the show.”

Just before putting the ID back in my pocket, I looked down at her smiling face and whispered, “Thanks, sis.”

thelumineers and me
“Me” and The Lumineers during their performance on the AT&T LIVE stage at the iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles on March 3, 2016 in Burbank, California.

(Please note the slightly illegal, alleged events that occur in this story cannot be proved and will be vehemently denied in a court of law…which might also be illegal.)







Hearing in paired: Beer

Some people feel and taste colors. Other people associate feelings with sounds. Me? Well, I drink in music. In this blog series, I pour myself a glass and pair 10 sips to 10 songs. Today, I’m drinking beer and it tastes like a crisp rhythm guitar and a chorus that leaves you with an aftertaste.  

How great is beer? It’s simple and ready to drink. It comes in endless flavors and sizes. It roots for your team and knows all of the words to your favorite song. Serve it in a plastic cup or in a fancy-pants flight, throw a ping pong ball in it or a slice of your favorite citrus, either way it will make you perfectly content.

Important facts about beer are that it’s made from malted wheat and barley, and that it has existed almost as long as we have. Yet, the history of beer is not as exciting as its current state. Right now if you’re a microbrewery or craft beer retailer, you are making bank. Some say craft beer is projected to represent nearly 15 percent of the beer industry by 2020 thanks to hipster taste buds. That doesn’t necessarily mean we will see Dogfish Head sponsor the Super Bowl or a Lagunitas World Cup, but we may see a Budweiser special edition brew or a Coors Craft if they want to stay competitive.

Lucky Beer
“If you think that enlightenment is separate from the drinking of beer you have not yet understood.”            –  Ancient Taoist Saying

Whether imports or premium brands or the strange concoction a friend made with his home brewing kit, I thoroughly enjoy beer. It agrees with me (or else I drink it until it does), and we generally have a good time if there isn’t too long of a line for the bathroom. Among my long list of favorite brands, my go-to as of late is Lucky Buddha – the enlightened beer. What attracted me to this brew was, of course, its bottle being in the shape of a laughing Buddha, but its taste is what keeps making me buy cases of it. That is whenever I’m able to find it.

For the occasion of being down to my last bottle, I decided to give it a proper send off by pairing the 10 sips it took me to finish it to the following 10 songs.

Sip 1 – Every Other Freckle by alt-J

This song pulls you in like an undertow and then casually drops the line, “devour me,” which you completely agree to because you are entranced by this strange combination of indie rock and industrial music. Similarly, there is something effortless about the first sip of this pale lager. It is clean and crisp and ready to be devoured.

Sip 2 – Minarets by Dave Matthews Band

A second sip brings out a few more layers of flavor, but overall it’s subtle and controlled like the middle eastern melody of this song. The lyrics of Minarets mention several religious figures, which pairs perfectly with the icon on my bottle.

Sip 3 – Summertime by The Head And The Heart

This old sweater of a song is laden with sweeping synthesizers and familiar vocals that are as refreshing as the third sip of my beer.

Sip 4 – Parallel by Jack White

In four sips, I’ve drank as far down as Buddha’s chest and celebrated my accomplishment with the stomping blues of Jack White’s cover of Dean Fertita’s Parallel.

Sip 5 – Flapper Girl by The Lumineers

A dainty piano opened the door to the understated drama of this song and my fifth sip. Halfway through my Lucky Beer and I’m inclined to raise my glass and sing along to anything and everything – cue The Lumineers.

Sip 6 – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1 by The Flaming Lips

I noticed that my once ice cold beer was now slightly warmer, and my thoughts slightly more cerebral. My sixth sip tasted like the concept of this song: complicated lyrics over a simple beat…or was it a complicated beat over simple lyrics?

Sip 7 – Hold On by Alabama Shakes

On the seventh sip, I tasted the skunk in the beer, and it was as delicious as the Dust Bowl funk of Alabama Shakes.

Sip 8 – Step by Vampire Weekend

Sip eight was a bittersweet one. The beer line was under Buddha’s belly, marking the beginning of the end. As such, the melancholic piano, harpsichord and organ perfectly expressed the solemnity of the moment.

Sip 9 – Alone by Trampled by Turtles

I lifted the bottle to the light and wished the next to last sip a fond farewell. Down the hatch it went as easy as this barebones folk acoustic song by Trampled by Turtles.

Sip 10 – Southern Sun by Boy & Bear

And with a final tilt of the head, the deed was done. The last sip takes a little bit longer than the rest, as you spend some time with your chin pointing to the ceiling waiting for more to magically fall into your mouth. The classic simplicity of this song not only sums up this last sip, but also the entire drinking experience. “So come on, come on, I’m ready now” for another one.

Below is a full list of the 10 songs for my 10 sips:

Click if you missed my music parings for whiskeygin and/or vodka.