Just found this while backing up my external harddrive for the first time since seeing Avatar. Figured I'd share...I call this
The Na'vi, Like Me
I see it when tears fall from the eyes of strangers
People known to them with scripted comfort
Their sobs embraced with shoulders
Leaning upon love as if to share, lessen the load
When people understand one another I get confused
Do they know, I mean really know?
Or is it just a test, passed only by thespians
Those capable of feigning intentions, sentiment
Rooted in an ability to relate
Yet what is akin to what you’re feeling?
Something sort of kind of like that one time
I know exactly what you’re going through
There are people able to play that role
To tell the truth, I am seldom of that crowd
Choosing to watch with my 3-D glasses
Unwilling to become an Avatar to empathize
In a world with two dimensions of humans
Actors and directors, respectively speaking
My feelings are those of the blue people
Unwilling to adapt to your desires without force
I turned 27 a few days ago and it's the weirdest thing looking back, then ahead, then back, then ahead and assessing where it is that I am, where my latest birthday leaves me.
I spent a lot of my childhood dreaming about being past it. Poor dreaming of property. Insignificant dreaming of importance. I spent much of my adolescence full of desire. Desire for companionship with girls - not necessarily the prettiest ones, but the ones I thought would make the best companions. Desire for advancement past peers with more to go home to and less to aspire for.
Now, as an adult, I am finally learning what my grandmother always tried to tell me. What former bosses couldn't fully communicate. What my girlfriend is saying all the time. I am learning about the present.
And I am learning to understand my own presence.
Too often, over my early years, I was more concerned with where I was going to be later on. And if not "later on", then at least right after this. Jay-Z raps that song "On to the Next One", but if it was up to me it'd have been called "On to the One After That".
My boundless ambition can explain much of this. To this day, I see myself doing more tomorrow than what is being done with my life today, be it Real Role Models or Sneak Attack. But there is also a place and a time for tomorrow, which is why God gave us today. To live out yesterday's thoughts and ambitions.
So that is where I find myself now, arrived at 27, in precisely the exact place and time and method in which I had imagined myself years ago. Entrepreneur, Austinite, book author, college graduate, urbanite, music lover and friend to many.
What is ahead is exciting and inviting and blinding if not for the joy's of today, which make me certain that my presence - in my relationships and friendships, in Sneak Attack, with pen in hand, with music lovers at too many shows to name, on planes - is what enables me to remember that 27 is where I'm left when I wake up each and every day regardless of the visions in my dreams. At least for the time being.
My friend Natalie told me that today in a g-chat convo and it got me thinking about what I wanted to write about Coachella.
As some of you know, I'm writing a book called Indisputable about Austin's live music scene. The book's premise is rather simplistic: Austin has the best live music scene anywhere. Obviously, with a thesis like that, there's a lot of comparisons going on. I have to make the case against New York and its legendary scene along with Memphis and its blues-focused scene and New Orleans' jazz-centric one etc etc. I say this to remind you that I'm not one to shy away from comparisons.
But when I got back from Coachella I went from being excited to tell you all about how much fun I had seeing Jay-Z, Thom Yorke, Phoenix, Muse and others up-close to being a little upset. Upon my return, I started hearing people talking about how much more fun it was than ACL and decided to write about the comparison instead. I know that comparisons are a simple way of relating things to people, but when apples (Coachella) and oranges (ACL) are compared, I have to be the Floridian (or Austinite) and protect my territory.
Look, I get that comparisons are the simplest way for people to make points for or against something...like explaining why Karl Malone was better than Charles Barkley because he lost to Jordan in the Finals twice instead of once or how Vince Young should've won the Heisman over Reggie Bush.
And since I've gone to both ACL and Lollapalooza, the festivals run by Austin-based C3 Presents, and I'm one of the few people I know of who didn't make their first trip to Coachella this year I feel I'm at least a small authority to weigh in on these comparisons.
For starters, let's play the comparison game. Coachella is in Indio, California, a desert town no bigger than Pflugerville that is a good two-hour drive outside of Los Angeles. ACL and Lolla both take place in public parks run by big-city governments within blocks of Downtown condos and office buildings. That said, if you're like tens of thousands who made ACL or Lolla their first trips to Austin or Chicago, respectively, you were in luck whereas those hoping to check out L.A. during Coachella were SOL unless they count the trek down Sepulveda out of LAX.
Of course, Coachella's desert location makes it quite a destination for 20-somethings looking for a remote place to campout with friends and get high, especially when you add the backdrop of palm trees and the Santa Rosas Mountains. Speaking of, camping at Coachella makes it an inherently different kind of festival than ACL or Lolla because the outdoors lay the foundation for the festival rather than the inner-city elements that make C3's efforts a more significant undertaking considering the scrutiny they receive if things don't go according to plan. Everyone who walked around in the dillo-dirt mud at this past year's ACL knows exactly what I'm talking about.
Meanwhile, Coachella, with its remote location, is managed about as well as a Division II basketball team with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in the starting five. Who cares if you don't have all the Is dotted and Ts crossed...you're going to win day in and day out with that lineup. In my two turns at Coachella, I've been able to see Paul McCartney, Jay-Z and Tiesto headline. That's one of the greatest songwriters of all-time in the biggest band of all-time, the best rapper of all-time and, possibly, the best DJ alive. No offense, but the Coachella promoters - and their big budgets - could sellout a festival in Siberia with that bill.
On the other hand, with so many people to please and politics involved, the promoters of ACL and Lolla have to do a hundred things to cater to their broader crowds, that include young teens, their parents, tourists (to a major city, not a desert) and city folk. This explains why the food at Coachella sucks...I repeat sucks...compared to the food at ACL or Lolla. It also explains why the C3 goes to extreme measures to help alleviate traffic in Austin and Chicago, with thousands of spots for bikes, while the people of Indio loathe Coachella-goers because of the traffic hell they put their small town through. I should add that this may be the reason why Coachella can get away with lying for several months about 300sq feet camping spots and not catch any flack when people show up and realize they have half that amount and no refund on the way.
If you need a better way to capture all these comparisons, here's a good one Austinites.
ACL Festival is like South Congress. It's distinctively local. It brings together local food (Mighty Cone) and beverages (Sweet Leaf), local businesses (C3) and local patrons of all ages are united, local things are purchased and promoted (LIVESTRONG), local bands (Black Joe Lewis, Spoon, Ghostland, L.A.X.) are heard, bikes are welcome and it doesn't cost as much as it would in New York or L.A.
Coachella is more like The Domain. It's local without local involvement. The food and beverage options aren't exceptional. The budget is humongous which both inflates the prices and reduces the likelihood that they're even making money doing it. It doesn't give you a chance to see the city. Bikes aren't welcome. Mismanagement (three people were run over by an ATV in the campgrounds this year) is masked by big names (Madonna, Muse) and it caters to people with more disposable income (20-somethings) than its counterparts.
Truth be told, Coachella gets 20-somethings - who double as the audience most likely to talk about their experience on Facebook, Twittter, blogs, etc. - more excited about its festival because it has better music than ACL or Lollapalooza. Why? Because they spend more money (rumored to have paid Paul McCartney more than the entire ACL budget last year), have more time (music ends at 1am), charge higher prices (nearly double), and worry less about the extras (like food).
Meanwhile, ACL and Lollapalooza remain two of the best city festivals in the world because they manage their festivals like good point guards...distribute things appropriately, keep everyone happy and don't try to dunk everytime you get the ball.
I had a blast at Coachella. Once again, it was one of the best festival experiences I've ever had. But it's playoff time and comparing a point guard who dishes out 12 assists a game (Magic) to a forward who scores 30 points a game (Kobe) isn't necessary because there's more than one way to win a championship...even on the festival circuit.