Continued from part 2:
Homeless in Minneapolis Concerts Day 3
Went downstairs and found my mom. Most Saturdays she spends several hours in a chair sipping coffee, munching toast, reading the paper. Or cleaning the house while listening to the White Christmas soundtrack, no matter what time of year. She was in her chair. I made some toast, sat down, and told her the story through a mouthful of peanut butter.
Didn’t spare any of the details of this guy coming after me. As soon as those ladies dropped me off in my car the night before all I wanted to do was tell as many people as possible as I could about it. I never post about what I’m doing on my Facebook, yet made an exception for this. Had to let everyone know what happened. It was so scary and exciting. My mom was mainly just happy I was safe. Didn’t seem too concerned about it. She used to have a shitty apartment in Minneapolis and one of her neighbors stabbed her sister to death in the hallway with some scissors. I guess an almost mugging wasn’t all that big of a deal. And then I realized it wasn’t. People get mugged all the time. I didn’t even have that much happen to me. I got away. But it was my story. I liked telling it. And it affected me a lot.
Looking down at her paper, she asked if I’d stayed with a friend after Best Coast. Didn’t want to tell her I slept in my car at a park. About giving myself a hobo cleaning in that rusty bathroom. A little too sketchy for her tastes. Didn’t want to face a bunch of questions. Have her say I was asking for trouble by sleeping in my car. Said I had drove out of Minneapolis and slept at a rest stop. She knows I sleep at rest stops all the time when I travel, so this was normal to her. She just gave me her usual speech of “I don’t know how you do that. Getting a hotel is worth it.”
To me though it’s generally not. I don’t like the idea of spending $50 to sleep in a shitty bed for twelve hours when a couple hours napping in my front seat will do. Just need enough rest to not go spinning off a mountainside in Idaho. Asleep at the wheel. Awakening in mid-air. Trying to get cell reception so that I can tweet my own death. “Flipping cliff in Idaho. Buku hard to nap when you’re pinned against the windshield. Later, y’all.” So I try to spend the bare minimum when I travel. That way I can go as many places as possible. I like being on the move.
I spent hours that day looking up ways to avoid being mugged, and what to do during a mugging. When my dad got home I told him the same story. He too was just glad I was safe. From what I gathered, neither of my parents had ever been mugged or had a close call like that. I tried to make them understand just how scary it was, but I don’t think they quite got it. We talked a lot about my sister Brittany out in Olympia, Washington and how we wanted her to be safe since she was alone.
I only ever met nice hobos there, but my mom didn’t really care for them. Christmas 2009 my mom and I were walking downtown Olympia and came across a group of homeless outside a church eating a meal off paper plates and out of tinfoil. They had a remote control race car that they were driving around the lot. Crashing into each other’s feet. One of them had a kite. They were all older. I thought it was entertaining to watch. They were just trying to have a good time under bad circumstances. A few blocks down we saw a police car with its siren on. My mom said the cops were probably arresting some buddies of these church hobos. She didn’t care for them. Said she was going to tell Brittany to not go down that street anymore. That’s just the way my mom is. Sometimes you have to ignore dumb things from the people you love.
That night back home at my parents’ I watched a movie down in the living room. The Cove.
It was so good. I’m not the most empathetic person, but it got to me. I ended up going on the internet after the film and started reading about the slaughter and abuse of dolphins. Thought about a Law and Order: SVU fan fiction I wrote once for a friend as a Christmas gift. It involved Detective Stabler falling in love with a dolphin, kidnapping it, turning his apartment into a shit filled aquarium, fucking the dolphin constantly, and eventually having his dick eaten off by his mutant half dolphin sun. I got to do a public reading of some of my work at my college with one other student writer for a reading series put on through our department and read excerpts of this (along with a legitimate story I wrote). Virtually the entire audience was female. I can be ridiculous at times. ANYWAY, my internet searches led me to finding out about a scientist who used to take LSD and then go swim with dolphins in the ocean. It was so fascinating. Ending up reading about him until four in the morning.
Got up the next day. Packed everything I was going to need for the next few weeks since I was checking into the malaria study the morning after I got back from The Flaming Lips concert that night. Packed: clothes, books, a notebook, all my toiletries, iPod (with tons of new podcasts on it), my teddy bear, crayons.
Made sure I had my ticket. Stuck the envelope it was in into my glove department. I’m really paranoid about these things and so rechecked three times to make sure the ticket was indeed there. When I have to set an alarm (which isn’t often anymore) I obsessively check and recheck the alarm on my phone to make sure it’s still on, see if I punched in the right time, turned the ringer on. Sometimes I’ll be so paranoid about this that I’ll be drifting off and feel the urge to check the alarm again, completely restarting my sleep cycle. But after multiple checks I knew I had my ticket. It was time to return to the city that almost killed me.
Homeless in Minneapolis Concerts Day 3
I was going to see The Flaming Lips. They are a band I’ve loved since high school. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is probably my second favorite album of all time. It’s just so beautiful and makes me feel something akin to butterflies in my stomach (I’m not good at describing music, sorry). I remember buying it at Best Buy my junior year of high school, then listening to it in my friend’s dad’s Escalade as we drove like dipshits. Thought we were so cool, listening to Fight Test, in this expensive vehicle, speeding through Grand Forks to get some Taco Bell. Of course none of us had girlfriends. But the music was good.
I ended up seeing The Flaming Lips for the first time a few years ago in Minneapolis with a cousin of mine. By this point I had listened to almost everything they’d ever done and was a huge fan. Thanks to the internet and their U.F.O’s at the Zoo DVD (which even my mom sort of likes), I knew how crazy the show was going to be. Nonstop confetti, sing-a-longs, lasers, crazy costumes, the lead singer rolling on top of the crowd in a giant inflatable ball. The concert was great. I was absolutely in love with this band. Made plans of seeing them again someday with friends dressed as the main characters from The Wizard of Oz.
Then I saw them for a second time last summer at Bonnaroo. I’d already been to ten hours of great music that day (including the first time I saw Edward Sharpe). It was night time, I was in a field, standing in mud with 15,000 other people waiting for them to come out. The show was so incredible. I just had the time of my life. It’d been a few years since I saw the Flips live — was overjoyed to get to catch them again. So beautiful in the outdoors; so wonderful when that many thousands of people were all singing along at once. Holding each other up so as to not crash into the ground slop. Tons of huge inflatable animals getting tossed around the crowd. Lightsabers being thrust into the air. It was great, even if I spent half the time in a cloud of someone’s cigarette and pot smoke. Here’s a video I took from that night, it’s really cool and encapsulates what a Flaming Lips show is like.
So now I was on my way to Minneapolis to see them for a third time, just three months after I saw them at Roo. Was to be my first time seeing them solo. This weekend of homeless concerts made me realize that I definitely enjoyed seeing a show with a partner more than alone, but a lot of times I don’t have anyone to go with. Just how it is. So on the drive instead of talking to a concert partner I listened to a bunch of Radiolab and This American Life. Filled up with gas in a tiny Minnesota town. Felt like shouting “DON’T YOU PEOPLE KNOW THERE IS A FLAMING LIPS SHOW TONIGHT!” In my defense, I was drinking a lot of Nos that day.
Cruised through Minneapolis. Thought about heading down to where I’d been chased but didn’t want to get lost. Got to St. Paul which is where the concert was being held. I was familiar with the place since I’d seen Beck and MGMT there a few years prior. After the hobo I kept on telling my parents and myself stuff like how it was worth it to pay $10 for parking if it meant being close to somewhere and not having to walk in the dark forever. I knew there was a paid parking ramp right next to the venue. Knew I could leave my car there and walk back to it after the show without ever having to get off a main street or hustle into the dark. Knew it would bring me so much peace of mind to know I wouldn’t have to worry about someone coming after me. But I’m cheap, so I spent the next half hour looking for free parking.
I ended up leaving my car about a fifteen minute walk away outside of some apartment building that was under construction. Wrote myself a note in my cell so that I’d know what streets to find it on after I got back from the show. Got on my phone and chatted for a while on the walk over to the place. Found out my friend, funniest dude I’ve ever known, posted this on my wall in reaction to me going to this concert: Hopefully the hobo I paid to murder you finishes the job this time.
Got to the venue, took a piss at a urinal beside a guy in a hot dog costume who said he liked my Driveshaft shirt, and then got in line.
So many people were in costumes. Saw a cardboard astronaut, some cats, lots of girls in slutty outfits. All good stuff. On my ticket it had said no cameras allowed. I knew from going to lots of shows that this just means SLRs, but still I was paranoid. I live my life in fear of embarrassment. Dictates much of what I do. What I ended up doing was in the bathroom I tied the string of my camera to the hole in the crotch of my boxers. Was cruising around with a little maroon camera rubbing against my crotch. Packing hard plastic. Going up to security I was walking like I had plastic legs. Didn’t want the camera to drop out of my pants. I saw tons of people holding cameras at this point. All passing through security without a problem. I got in and stuck my hand down my pants. Untied the camera. Guess all my sneakiness was a waste.
Got into the actual place, Roy Wilkins Auditorium. I had remembered it being a lot bigger. But still it was pretty vast. A giant cement floor; balcony seating going around the 3/4ths of the venue. I think it holds something like 5,000 people. All The floor was packed but the balcony empty. I ended up getting a spot front and center, one back from the rail. Perfect position. Was so excited.
The stage itself was all orange, had a huge arch and video screen set up on it. A whole cache of guitars. The confetti cannons were already set up. Everything seemed to be held together with orange duct tape.
The guy who picks people to come dance on stage in costume, Animal Wrangler, came out. He was really close to me but I didn’t get picked. It was okay. Was having fun, even though I knew I was going to be standing around for a while. Spent my time texting and thinking about the drug study I was checking into. Had to drive straight back from Minneapolis, then catch a couple hours of sleep in my car in Fargo before checking in. Felt pretty thankful I hadn’t slept in my car the past two nights. Four nights in a row of that would’ve been a lot to endure for your wimpy narrator.
Wayne Coyne, lead singer of The Flaming Lips, came out and shook some hands. Unfortunately he wasn’t wearing his oversize green laser hands.
Talked to fans for a while. He’s a seemingly buku cool guy, and anytime I’ve seen them people always cheer whenever he pops out on the stage before the start of the show. He even helped tape some things together on his mic stand. He told us to get ready to have a fucking great time. Warned people sensitive to flashing lights since there were going to be a ton. Took his portable smoke machine and blew it on some of us up front for fun. Priming the crowd. I sucked in fumes.
Finally the show got started. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti opened. They get lots of praise, but I don’t really get them. Dude looked like Kurt Cobain but with better socks. He banged his microphone against the drum cymbal a bunch of times. I hesitantly took some photos, still thinking I might somehow get in trouble for this. A security guard was standing five feet away from me and tons of people had their cameras out. I don’t know why my brain worries about silly stuff like that. But it does. I got over it, took as many photos as I needed.
In between Ariel Pink and Flips I looked around the crowd. Realized that the boy and girl from the Free Energy show who got called out by Titus Andronicus were standing right behind me. I thought that was pretty cool. They started talking to people around them and told others about Free Energy. The guy said that he recognized a ton of people at this show who were Minneapolis concert regulars. I thought it was pretty cool that he goes to enough shows to know faces. In my head I kept thinking “recognize me, talk to me.” But he didn’t. And I didn’t say hi to him or the girl, even though I was wearing a Free Energy shirt and it would’ve been fun to chat. Instead I entertained myself by watching all the props getting set up like a floating net filled with giant balloons.
Video of a naked woman dancing started playing on the huge screen. She laid down and spread her legs. This part of the screen opened up and The Flaming Lips were birthed onto the stage out her LED crotch.
Wayne Coyne got into his bubble ball and started rolling over the crowd.
Here is a little video I took of him doing this at Bonnaroo:
They shot the crowd full of confetti and a couple dozen giant balloons. Was so much fun having the paper rain down on you, hitting a balloon up into the air. Having one full of confetti pop on your face.
The concert itself was pretty good, but I’d seen most of what they do for stage tricks and already heard most of the songs live multiple times. Still, though, it was fun. I got to sing to my favorite songs, do a call and response song where, for example, Wayne would say “I can be a motorcycle,” and then we’d all make motorcycle sounds. They hit us with smoke machines, sang out of megaphones, aliens danced on stage, and Wayne sang on the shoulders of a bear.
Concert finished up, Afterward the entire floor was filled with yellow confetti. I watched the workers begin to sweep it up. Pushing a broom, taking away the color, a gray wake forming behind these janitors. The fun was over.
As I was heading out a girl came up and hugged me. She held on tight. I didn’t know who she was. Half hugged her back. All she said was “love yourself every day.” Didn’t know what to say back. She let go of me and walked off with her boyfriend. It was a spontaneous momentary connection, like that guy who gave me the high five on my bike once. I didn’t know what to think of this. But it was nice. I took a final look back at the concert stage, and headed out for my car.
First part of the walk was okay. I can’t remember if I was on my phone or not. But I was on a main street and walking with a bunch of other people from the concert. Everyone was laughing. Some were singing. This is something I see a lot after concerts — the singing. It’s always joyful.
Now I had to turn up a side street. No one on it except me and this couple a ways ahead. They looked back at me a couple times. Shaggy haired dude walking behind them late at night on a dark street. I started thinking about the hobo attacker, and then thought maybe these people were wary of me. Perhaps thought I was a robber. I crossed to the other side of the street to use a different sidewalk. I’m sure that couple thought nothing of me, but it made me feel better.
Parked further away than I thought. It was taking too long to get to my car and there was no one else around, as the couple had turned down a street. I saw a guy walking on my sidewalk. Coming towards me from off in the distance. My heart cranked up and I began wishing that I could just be to my shitty little car already. Stared down at the ground. Hugged close to the street in case I needed to run. Gripped my keys in my hand so I could jab them into his eyes. Felt so panicked when the guy finally passed by me. Afraid he was going to grab my shoulders and slam me into the wall. I had put my camera in my back pocket before leaving the venue, thinking that if it didn’t look like I was carrying anything I wouldn’t be robbed. I purposefully only brought my camera, phone, ticket, keys and license into the venue with me. Had made a pact that I wouldn’t carry around valuables or money at night if I didn’t need to. I realized that even though the hobo hadn’t got me, he took away my sense of safety. Now I felt scared of the most basic things, even though there was no reason to be.
Finally my car came into sight. I half ran to it. Had to pee really bad and decided I could make it outside for another minute. Pissed in the street, keeping an eye out in all directions the entire time, waiting for a mugger to show up when I had my pants down. Got into my car. It felt so good. I immediately locked my door. Picked up trash near the gas pedal. Looked at my directions. Took off.
Drive was uneventful. Listened to some music and thought about the concert. Seeing them just a few months since the last time was probably a mistake. Didn’t enjoy it as much as I would’ve if I hadn’t seen them in a few years. Decided I wouldn’t need to catch them again for awhile, though knew this wouldn’t be the last time in my life where I got drenched in their yellow confetti.
Made it to Fargo and parked on the street outside the drug study place. I was going to spend my next ten days in there, eating malaria medicine with a bunch of elderly people. I was right next to a field, on a part of the street that was a dead end so no one would be walking or driving by. Reclined my front seat. Changed into sweatpants and an old shirt. Felt the September cold. Put a pillow on the headrest. Threw some blankets over me. Set my phone alarm. Checked it over and over.
The past few nights I had gone to bed thinking about all the people in my life who love and care for me. Got so much comfort from that. But now I was thinking about what the girl who hugged me had said: Love yourself everyday.
Love myself everyday.
I don’t know how to do that.