I was out sick yesterday, so I couldn’t update this bad mutha ‘till today. My ear… it feels like it may be giving birth to a goose egg. And my voice is all hoarse and sultry, like the chick who sings Betty Davis Eyes. But not as girly, of course. Or, maybe MORE girly, I have no idea. I cannot hear myself, so I really don’t know what I am talking about.
Enough about nothing though. I am going to try my best and describe my fifth day at SxSW. It was the best of times, it was the grossest of times, it was a night of bad decisions and idiot atrocities. I had a good time, and I am very lucky to be alive.
Because we went to bed early the previous night (well, 3am is early, all things considered), we were able to get out of the house and to Stubb’s for a free concert by noon. The weather was amazingly good. Cool breeze, sunny skies, and the humidity was reasonable. Breakestra was on first, and they were absolutely fantastic. If you have never heard this band, then you are missing out on one of the most creative and truly American music-movement groups that has been around in a LONG time. Their blend of hip hop, Blues, Funk, Jazz, and orchestra is absolutely brilliant. Don’t miss out.
Bill and I decided to kick things off with tallboys of Lonestar. Bill orders, and the ‘tender tells him that the beers are free, because he’s wearing a The Smiths t-shirt. Mine says ‘Blue Ball Wrecking Crew’ on it, and that gets a slight chuckle, but no promise of free beer from the help. We get to drinking, listening to the sound guys warm things up, when I spot a photographer who used to work with my best friend (who now lives in London) doing contract photography for a magazine. He is there to pick up a press pass for later that night. Andrew Shaptor is his name, and if you respect photography, you need to check this guy out. He is taking a break from photography to pursue documentary work. His first creation surrounds the question of where American music is headed, and whether or not that direction is positive. He’s interviewing big names and up-and-comers for this documentary, so it should be pretty badass.
After buying Andrew a beer, it becomes clear that everyone is getting free beer. The bars are open until the event spends its tab. Andrew, if you are reading this, I swear I did not know that at the time.
So we begin to load up like the dirt bags we are.
During the course of the shows, we run into several good local DJs (Nick Nack, Chicken George, Witness, even Z-trip was there) and fight off the ridiculous number of bees and wasps around the place. And no, these were not hallucinations. One flew up this guy’s shorts… we did not have the heart to tell him. I was afraid he’d freak and get a nut stung. That would weigh on my conscience for years to come. It eventually took off to bother someone else.
Now I grew up in Houston, so I’ve been around wasps and bees and flying shit that stings, my entire life. I’ve been stung by them all. Sometimes the sting is debilitating (big, fat red wasps ALWAYS sting multiple times), sometimes it is just irritating (mowing near a yellow-jacket nest - well, what we down south call ‘yellow jackets” anyhow – will end up with ten of those little fuckers stinging your head and shit). But even though the occurrence was fairly regular, the individual experience is always, absolutely horrifying for me. The sound of those little wings buzzing near my ears is like a dentist’s drill to me. It evokes a sense of impending pain, which if I flail my arms and scream like a three year-old girl with enough fervor, I can avoid. So, on several occasions during the concert, Craig, who is physically full-grown man, could be seen screaming and running around the outskirts of the crowd, Lonestar in hand, shrieking like a two year-old in a Santa photo, running from a bug no bigger than a toe nail.
But I never got stung. So there. Nanny-nanny boo-boo and whatnot.
After Stubb’s, I had to take Rivas to the airport. Here’s where the day started to get kinda strange. Rivas drops his car at my crib, and I drive him to the airport from there. Keep in mind, the weather was tremendously beautiful not but 30 minutes prior. Half way to the airport, we hit heavy rain. The heavy rain turns into sheets of leaded water and tree-bending winds, which then turns into marble-sized hail. For those who live outside of tornado prone areas, this is the standard precursor for a tornado. Lucky for us, one never showed up, but the hail continued to ping and pop off my truck well after I dropped Rivas off at the departures entrance. I couldn’t see more than ten feet in front of me, so I couldn’t leave the relative security of the airport.
Back at the festival, all was relatively well. Just some rain and mild winds. They were very fortunate to avoid that damn hail. Rivas had to get out in it to get his bags. I watched. Shiiiiit, don’t hate. I’ve been beat-down by hail. I don’t need to repeat that experience. The weather eventually cleared up, and I left the airport to return to my bender.
Got back to the festival and went straight to the Fader party to meet up with everyone. Once there, I saw all kinds of people. More folks from Houston were there, including Fred from the Boys and Girls Club DJs, Witness, the Aerosol Warfare guys, and Starsign. The really cool couple I met in line at the Nylon party were also there. Bill, The Big O, my bro, etc. So we stood around, catching up with each other, drinking fist after fist of free Red Stripe.
Once the supply of Red Stripe was deemed to soon-be dry, we left Fader to find a party being thrown by the Aerosol Warfare guys at a shoe store on Brazos called Motion. DJ Scuba Gooding Sr. with the Prhymates was on the decks, there was free wine/beer, and the party was to promote a series of Converse shoes which had been artfully designed and crafted by local artisans. There was a live ice sculpture done out front by one of the guys from Aerosol Warfare, the DJs kept swapping out, dancers were bustin’ out, and everyone was getting completely plowed. At one point, there was a circle, which I was merely a member of, rockin’ it back and forth with my cup of beer, when a friend of the DJ who was dancing in the circle hopped over and accidentally slapped the cup up into my face. It sent the majority of the full cup to the floor, making a huge pond of beer beneath my feet. Like a true douche bag, as soon as my cup hit the floor, I was marching my way back to the keg, unfazed by the accidental attack. Everyone was staring at me like I just threw it on the ground myself, and then walked away, all punk rock or some shit.
Well, that’s not how it felt to me. To me, it went like this:
- I have a beer, and I’m drinking it while watching people dance.
- BAM! My beer has been slapped into my face.
- Hey, look, I no longer have a beer in my hand.
- Must remedy the no-beer situation.
- Back to the keg!
- Hey, what are all these people so pissed about?
- I mean, I’m the one who is soaking wet here.
- Looking back at the pond on the dancefloor…
- Well, it wasn’t my doing, specifically, but…
- Hm. I guess I could have offered to clean that up. Damnit.
- WOW! This beer sure is good! Let’s DANCE!
The kegs floated before 10pm.
But before the first keg set floated, I found and immediate need to take a leak. But there was no bathroom for us to use, since this establishment was for retail only. So I did like I always do when relatively battered out of my mind, and wandered outside to find a good spot. The stairwell at the front of the omni has always been a popular spot for locals to drain themselves while staggering to and from 6th street. So, I just ran to that and did my business. All eight gallons of the stuff.
Apparently everyone else had the same idea, because the Omni eventually stationed security guards in front of it to block any more pee-vandals. Just fucking great. So the next time I felt the urge to purge, I decided to wander up an adjoining parking garage. The entrance to this parking garage is an upward spiral, going up five or so floors, with parking all around the spiral. So I’m wandering up and up and up, looking for a good spot to drain, but finding nothing that would be properly protected from passersby. Considering what I was willing to do next, I have no idea why my privacy was of any real concern.
So I go up another level and decide upon a nice dark spot, wedged between a cement ramp and the front end of a Bronco. I shimmied down into the wedge and was just about to start putting the fire out when my olfactory system went completely haywire.
Here is where I must say a few words, as a sort of disclaimer.
1) Drunk Logic, if not oxymoronic, is completely nonexistent.
2) It is easy to judge a man who is being honest to you about himself, by being dishonest with yourself about yourself. That is to say, quick judgment is rarely honest judgment.
3) The list of things I have done while inebriated which HONESTLY caused me to second guess my future with booze is three lines short. This situation is number two.
Let’s get on with it, because this situation is… uniquely Craig.
My senses are ringing all kinds of bells because the scent is easily recognized, but rarely smelled in such a situation. I step back, and up the ramp into the lamplight, and look down on my right shoe. Yep. That’s human shit. And it is ALL over the front of my right shoe. Down in the grip grooves, over the front of the toe, just all up in there. I would swear I saw peanuts stuck in there.
So there I am, standing on this ramp, with my shoe still on, staring at my poo-covered foot, while people and cars are driving by. Enraged by the defamation of my sneakers, I staggered further up the ramp to a better lit corner to finish my piss. And that’s when an idea that would only hit me under those conditions made itself known.
And I then made the stupidest somewhat-lucid decision I have ever made in my entire life.
In my mind, I had two problems.
1) I had human feces on my shoe, which might possibly contain the Ebola virus. Since the maker felt compelled to deliver it in a rather public place, I must assume it was a dire emergency, and therefore more foul than your average stool. To get this clean, I would need a high-powered water source.
2) I needed to relieve a kiddy-pool’s worth of frothy beer piss from my body, and I had no where decent to get that job done.
You’ve probably known where this was headed for the last three paragraphs.
So I put those two together, and chucked one stone at both birds. That’s right. I stood there, on one foot, next to some Chevy Pickup, under a light, while people were walking down/driving by, pissing the human crap off my right shoe. If that weren’t bad enough, after I finished peeing on it, I took the shoe off for inspection. Noting that there was still a substantial amount of poo still clinging to my sneak, I decided to walk further up to find a better water source.
Yeah, I know: walk UP to find a better water source? Like what? Rain? But keep in mind, I just pissed on my own foot to get someone else’s shit off it. I’m not all there folks.
So I’m climbing higher into the parking garage with my left shoe on, and a shit-covered shoe in my right hand, looking around frantically for a water fountain I suppose. I did find a leaking water main, on one of the top levels, which was leaking a stream just weaker than the one that was previously splashing out from my body. I stood there, while cars were passing maybe two feet from me, washing the turd off. When I was tired of working at it, I just put that fucker back on and started back down the garage. Some people had been hanging out at their car, parked in front of the water main, and when I walked off, they started honking their horn and yelling some gibberish at me. I ignored them and kept walking down the spiral until about half the way down, I realized that my trunk was still exposed. I never put Big Jim and Twins away after peeing.
So anyone who was driving down a parking garage exit on Saturday night who saw some crazy looking dude in a yellow jacket, one shoe on, penis hanging out in the breeze, using a broken water main to wash human feces off the bottom of his shoe… Well, not that I have any apologies for the trauma you may have experienced by that sight, but rest assured that I never intended to be in that situation. I mean, fuck.
Humbled, and somewhat calmed by that experience, I headed back down and back to the shoe store party. There, on the floor of the store, remained small puddles of my previous beer. I knew if I went in there, the material still stuck to my shoe would dissolve into the beer, releasing the pungent smell of human caca. Now I don’t necessarily mind admitting what happened (as evidenced by this entry), but I certainly don’t want to smell like someone else’s ass. So I just hung out front until the puddles cleared up entirely.
The dancing continued for another hour or so. I had long, forgotten conversations with people who are probably really interesting, and should have been made available to more deserving party goers. But, whatever.
More kegs arrived, I harassed some more strangers, and told the shoe-poo story to bunch of fellow revelers, who thought it was quite entertaining, but who preferred I continue to stay outside. Fucking hygiene. Always holdin’ me back and shit.
So I split and went to Red Fez to watch Z-trip and DJ Mel spin together. My word, what a goddamn LINE. I had successfully avoided lines ALL DAY up until that point. I was by myself, so just waited it out like any good citizen would. As soon as I had reached the front of the line, Bill and The Big O arrived. They walked right up to me, almost expectant. There was no way I could just let them in the front of the line. We would be lynched. So what did they do? Well, Bill just looked me in the eye and said, “well we don’t need to get in that fucking line anyway. We’ll be in there before you!” Then he pointed all the way down the line, “before all these motherfuckers!” I laughed a half-hearted laugh, because he really pissed off everyone in line behind me. And just to make things worse, they got in before I did. They must have paid the bouncer, because if there was a way to sneak in for free, I would have already done it.
When we finally got inside, the place was afire with excitement. Red Bull and vodkas flowed freely amongst all the Houstonians and Austinites in our group. Everything went kind of bright-yellow for me, I’m guessing because I had peed out all the other colors of the palette. Z-tip was scratching and he and Mel were blending back and forth. It was a sight to behold.
I do not have a solid grasp on the remaining events of the evening. So I will just tell the splinters and chipped memories within my grasp.
-- I was high-fiving strangers, which I never do.
-- I was getting shots from strangers, which I always do.
-- I was bothering the DJs, which I never do (unless they’re off)
-- I paid the bouncer to get a bunch of other people in, ahead of the line.
-- I went outside and handpicked the people to come inside, like studio 54 or some shit.
Yes, it is official. I suck. I hate that fucking asshole who strolls out of the club, hands the bouncer a $20, and then cherry-picks his cheap-ass friends (who refused to tip their own damn way in) to come inside, like any of them matter. That dude is a douche balloon. I am that douche balloon. Who would have known? I’ve come to grips with that, and I’ve since moved on. You should too.
Got the fuck out of dodge, and got up at noon the next day.
Sunday was a down day. I was the walking dead. Had lunch at Curra’s with The big O, my bro, Bill, Kim and Cee. We told stories, discussed current events, and made some thin plans for the coming year. It was a very pleasant lunch. When we left, we ran into a bunch of people from Houston who looked about as healthy as I did (read: sick with the after-effects of a binged-booze night). We all nodded at each other, gave some dap, and then quietly went our separate ways. If I could re-do that moment, I would have been far more pleasant, because I have vague memories of them wanting to leave the Red Fez because I was completely losing my shit on the dance floor.
But those memories are really vague. And they are intermingled with me making out with a purple giraffe. And we all know giraffes aren’t purple, so those ‘memories’ are complete bullshit, and cannot be trusted.
Sweet Jesus, one day I will grow up (again), I promise.
Damn you purple giraffes!
(Please note that there is no Day SIX of the bender. I cut it off short. POW!)