Resistance is futile - John Oates & Daryl Hall
Normally, when I get off work at Amoeba Music on Friday evenings, I rush home, remove most clothing, scold my cat for not accomplishing anything while I was gone, fix myself a salad and watch some DVD (right now it’s the original “Twilight Zone”, season 3) before attending to any writing projects I have, after which I cuddle up with my iPod and listen to David Sedaris until I either fall asleep, or the Grays abduct me for a night of cavity-probing and “Small Wonder” re-runs (they love that show).
"May I please have some Oreos and a cool glass of your DNA sample?"
However, last Friday night I was abducted in a different way.
Logan had called me earlier and asked me what I was “doing” that night and I, like a fool, said I had no plans. (My boyfriend was in Canada at the Toronto Film Festival.)
“Well,” she said, sounding particularly devious, “You’re coming with me and Karen and some other Amoebites to see Hall & Oates at the Hollywood Bowl.”
She paused then, and I think she was waiting for me to squeal with delight. Instead, I quietly waited for a punchline to what was obviously a whimsical joke. When no punchline came and I realized she was telling the truth, I started to choke.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“I think you gave me throat cancer,” I answered.
What had started as a moment of fantasy between a few co-workers had organically morphed into a large-scale field trip to the Hollywood Bowl. Karen had managed to secure a bevy of tickets and transportation. (I think she has mafia ties.)
Logan explained that she and Karen wanted me to go along and blog the event.
Why couldn’t my first assignment as an in-the-field Amoeblogger be something a little less dangerous? Like, testing SCUD missiles in Pakistan, or opening a gay bar in Tehran?
Logan was disappointed in my bad attitude. For those of you who don’t know her, she has these big, blue eyes that go all Justine Batemany on you when she’s sad and it’s more than a guy can take. So I buckled.
Which meant that, instead of spilling wayward arugula onto my knit-boxers as Rod Serling smugly narrated surreal half-hour segments, I departed work and turned left onto Cahuenga Boulevard where I saw a classic, yellow schoolbus, parked. Outside it, my boss Karen waited with open arms, like Saint Peter welcoming me to the Pearly Gates.
(Anyone who works for Karen knows she is an enthusiastic and skilled hugger. Whenever she greets you at the beginning of your shift, you’d swear it was your surprise birthday party.)
The Cahuenga Side.
Welcome to your future.
We waited at the bus as employees and their dates eventually made their way on board. Kara and I pondered the new, high-gloss, metal siding on the base of the CNN skyscraper, wondering if its new “Studio 54” make-over served a purpose other than looking like it was trying to get laid.
In the distance, the Sun set. It all sounds rather poetic, only Karen was, at this point, anxious to go. She had started her metaphorical engines an hour earlier and was in danger now of flooding.
Logan was the final animal to board our ark. What took her so long? She was doing her job, apparently. Her priorities are totally whack.
Welcome to the jungle.
A few employees watched from the sidewalk as the schoolbus of cheering Amoebites pulled out into traffic. It was kind of like leaving port on a cruise ship. A really tiny cruise ship that smelled like Hello Kitty erasers and pee.
Anyone who’s driven to a show at the Hollywood Bowl knows that it’s something akin to salmon spawning. Our driver, Nick, deftly managed the ebb and flow of cut-throat drivers which flanked our long, yellow craft, as we inched toward our destination.
En route, being at the front of the bus where all the good kids sat (i.e., old people) I only heard about the following two events:
1.) We drove past a gaggle of men all dressed as “Oates”, replete with matching mustaches and mullets. Thank God I only heard about this, because, had I actually set sight on such a thing, I would have surely perished.
2.) One of our employees mooned on-lookers from the bus window. Rumor informed me it was Jackie, but I don’t know this for certain. Even so, I’m just a blogger, not a news journalist, so let’s decide it was Jackie and write her many letters accordingly.
In the course of the evening, I would be consistently wrong about how Karen’s mind works. It was educational for me. For example:
Logan had been charged with photo-documenting the event (many of the pix you’re seeing here were taken by her). As we neared the Bowl, Logan suddenly wondered if cameras were allowed inside. We panicked, and Karen, brow furrowed, began to look around for (I thought) someone who might know whether or not cameras were permitted, so we could be certain to behave accordingly.
“That’s a good question,” she muttered. Her eyes settled on Paul Jones’ baggy pants. “Who can we hide that [camera] with?”
It’s not the only time that evening when her sense of responsibility proved more mutinous than maternal.
Whether or not she’s following the rules, she’s certainly always following her heart. Our intimidated bus driver must have been pleasantly surprised when Karen offered him a ticket and invited him to join us for the concert, which he did.
Once our group left the bus, it was every man for himself. Like retarded homing pigeons, we checked and re-checked our tickets, trying to find our seats. I imagine it’s what first-time customers go through upon entering Amoeba.
The group had splintered, but we eventually made it our corner of the Bowl. Some came laden with concessions. Karen had brought the only survival gear I needed: bottles of wine. Logan and I selected a bottle of Californian cab-sav (“Ooo, March – that was a very good month for wine!”) and were happy that the person who was carrying the cups hadn’t made it to us yet, because it gave us an excuse to drink straight from the bottle.
My one-man jug band.
The opening act was The Spinners. They shuffled out onto the stage in matching, yellow-and-glitter suits that would be the envy of every middle-aged woman in Florida, circa 1989.
They began singing the National Anthem, and when I automatically stood to join in, Logan and Amoeba manager, Alyssa, got all embarrassed – like I was making some kind of spectacle of myself. When the rest of the audience also stood, I had the last laugh.
“Stand up and sing, you Commie finks!” I snickered.
Some Amoebites even knew the words, though I think most would have proved better versed in a round of “Don’t Stop Believin’”.
The Spinners. Right round, baby, right round.
The Spinners proved to be a sweet but confusing act. Didn’t most of the members die? Who were these young bucks singing the key parts, anyhow?
Their dance moves proved tame in the extreme, and one couldn’t help but wonder if their break-dancing had been tailored to keep them from break-hipping. Even so, anyone who knew and appreciated the history of the surviving members were jubilant. Some Amoebites audibly sighed and swooned when a new song began, and there was some ecstatic arm-waving going on.
The Spinners were temporarily upstaged by a lone man who crept into the Amoeba area for a… nap?
A nap. Everywhere around us there’s screaming and dancing and general Dionysian behavior, and this dude plopped next to cashier Jessie and proceeded to nod-off!
My theory was that he was the husband of some Hall & Oates fan; as his wife got tipsy on Zima and Trader Joe’s chocolate-dipped cotton swabs, reveling in the soundtrack to her glory days in college, he escaped her slurring, lip-glossed laughter in search of some peace.
Instead, as soon as he was asleep, he was surrounded by tittering Amoeba employees who proceeded to pose for photographs next to him, like he was a costumed character at Disneyland.
“Look, Mommy! It’s the Sleepy Husband of Hollywood Bowl!"
Between these antics and the half-bottle of wine I’d sucked down, I was laughing so hard that my spleen began cracking. And it was only the opening act.
During intermission, Logan and I braved the concession stand. I was still reeling with unpleasant high school flashbacks from the bus-ride over, and waiting in line for a tray of over-cooked food sent me into a mild anxiety attack. Faced with paying something like $699.00 for a lackluster Caesar salad, I panicked and ordered two hot dogs.
Now, normally I don’t eat pork because it’s not Kosher and my Rabbi would not approve. He’s already annoyed with me for not being Jewish. But hot dogs were the only item on the menu that I could afford without taking-out a small loan from Washington Mutual, so I went for it.
Once I was faced with the… “food”, I was temporarily confused. Was I really supposed to eat this? Like, with my mouth?
Logan laughed hysterically as I grabbed three handfuls of mayonnaise packets. (In my experience, few things are so distasteful that enough mayo can’t transform it into a culinary delight.)
Logan eats the hot dog... I eat the Logan... it's a circle of life.
Back in our seats, we began force-feeding ourselves. I donated my second hot dog to Alyssa, who’s blood-sugar had dropped so low she was starting to confuse the ushers with picnic baskets. I was afraid she might try and open one of them.
Look! Up in the sky! ...It's Daryl Hall!
Hall & Oates opened with “Maneater” and there was much rejoicing. Oates had shaven off his trademark mustache, and I think it was a while before anyone knew who he was.
I have to be honest. I’ve never been a fan of Hall & Oates, but I am a HUGE FAN of people rocking out and having a swell time, so I was well entertained. One thing I can never make peace with, however, is a 1980’s pop-song, sax solo.
I hate the sax solo. When it finally fell out of fashion, along with Reaganomics, I heaved a hearty sigh of relief. I don’t know why it bothers me as much as it does; it strikes me as some intentionally bland bridge between catchy pop coasts, and I always think a song could be improved by cutting it out. Imagine my horror when Kenny G did exactly the opposite.
I mention the sax solo because, more so than Oates, a purple-clad sax player dominated the evening’s concert. It was he, and not the headlining duo, who walked out into the audience to enthusiastic spectators; like some pied piper, collecting throngs of coked-out forty-somethings and leading them to a land of saxophone nirvana.
Note the purple-clad sax player looming above me. 'Nuff said.
I would have barfed, but I had drunk a lot of wine, and I needed those calories.
We laughed, we cried, we shouted and doubled-over as Hall & Oates played their hits and, every once in a while, snuck in a song they weren’t sick of.
When they played their closing song, we kept clapping – everyone smug in their assumption that they would eventually give us an encore in the form of “Private Eyes”. It never occurred to us that…
Huh? No encore? What…?
The natives began to grumble. Admiration gave way to ire as the hundreds of people unified in a feeling that they had been short-changed by not hearing “Private Eyes”. As for me, it was one less opportunity to endure a sax solo, so I was cool.
I barely remember the walk back to the bus. I was, by this point, drunk, as were the people in charge of leading us back. There were moments of desperation as our one large group began to lose each other in increasingly small cliques, and I had flashbacks of “Sophie’s Choice”.
I was one of the first groups to make it back to the bus, along with Karen and Logan and Nick, the bus driver, which was no small relief.
Karen offered our bus driver some wine before thinking better of it.
Finally, everyone except Paul Jones was accounted for. Those of us who know Paul felt assured that he was not only okay, but had probably swindled his way into some celebrity’s limo and was smoking reefers in a Jacuzzi overlooking the Hills. But some kind-hearted (if naïve) co-workers felt we should wait and make sure Paul was safe.
When he was finally reached on a cell phone, he was already long gone from the Bowl. I hope the limo ride was smooth, Paul.
The ride back to Amoeba was as loud as the concert. The back of the bus regaled us with a confused sing-a-long of songs so random, it would cause an iPod shuffle to freeze.
When we pulled up next to our beloved store, there were some cops parked there, and Karen urgently began to quiet everyone down. After all, we don’t want the police investigating us. Once she got the bus silenced, she announced:
“Now let’s hear it for our bus driver, Nick!”
Everyone cheered, and once again I realized I was wrong about what Karen had been thinking.
Everyone poured out of the bus and began hugging. Drunk on wine and good times, I plodded home.
My cat hadn’t folded a single piece of laundry.