Tristan da Cunha at the pops

Published: Monday, November 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 30, 2004 at 6:02 a.m.

Her eyes pointed precisely 45 degrees in the air, the Claymation TV Santa Claus twinkle of stage lights flashed into expansive pupils. The awareness takes it's time to rear. Seeing such a spectacle for the first time, the foreign aroma of the situation waits to reveal it's sweetness.

"This is so much better than I thought it would be," she mused of her very first concert, tonight, at 18.

Flash back.

5:56 in the morning Friday. Little over 14 hours to go. Megan had just gone off to sleep inside her dorm, with plan to ride her bike into the setting sun around 7 p.m., right after her fencing practice.

For now, Family Guy will help me drag out my studying a bit longer. College students have well come to understand their personal limit for the possibility or lack thereof for actually waking up in time for that morning test. Nary a graduating senior will miss the joy of using the phrase "When I can go to sleep" - not want or will.

What people are better equipped for a no-holds-barred, 3-day festival? This night and the two ahead blow the wind in which caution is swept away. The heat, the energy of our release could blow anything to the far reaches of the earth. Or consciousness. Or memory. What did we do last weekend?

The spark of that power was in he eye, un-glazed-over as it was.

Around 6:30 a.m., the anticipation of getting paid by one of the world's largest media groups to scuttle about the city street with drink and merriment for 3 days straight had come to pass.

You, sun. Wake up. Birds already beat you to it.

The birds in Gainesville don't get the worm, despite waking up very boisterously at 3 a.m. every day. They root around in leaf piles and look for crap that jut fell from the sky. Roaches, mosquitoes, cigarette butts, beer bottles, passenger airliners. They get their fill within 4 square feet.

This is the kind of nervous anger that pops up daily - at places like the supermarket. When the damn woman says her number 45 times to the cashier typing it into a keypad 3 inches from the generic value card that she can pick up at any time and let me move my day along a little bit faster than this. That completely contained urge to put on a yellowish woolen sweater and knock that meathead out.

Gainesville on a Friday or Saturday morning is a beautiful thing to calm the nerves. I wish all of our visitors had would take a night away from their bed to capture that effervescence of this place. It's one of those underlying draws that makes music work here.

The energy mounting in the mornings comes from each direction. The ex-military-looking mailman in the NW side brings his charge to completion half an hour early. This weekend, the flood of humanity pours outward to Jacksonville instead of their usual inwardly flow. Our fuel this day is the stage, the lights, the crowd, and our music.

We arrived late at Common Grounds, catching the tail end of Victory at Sea's set. The duet towed a somber line, standing like fuzzy-capped British soldiers in front of the Queen's summer home. I can't abide by a stage show that either puts the audience to sleep or sends them searching for a razor blade to relieve the depression.

The noobie stood stoic and untouched, an island tall inside the faceless crowd. Stage cast a glow of green on her pale face wondering at the raised platform. All but the group 4 feet in front of her faced away from the stage.

Slipping outside to escape the crowd - and the talented but oh-so-not-my-style Mercury Program - the blackness of the outside world enveloped. The bare gray streets dimmed in the absence of the usual weekend footsteps, except on the white path between the venues of the night. Beyond the borders of our de-facto group, the city was still cold.

Yet, somehow, a Gainesville cop pulled over someone I knew. Warmth and reality return to me for a second. I turn my eyes downward to realize it. I don't know a single person who doesn't hate having to wear this armband for 3 days.

Back on track: Sidebar was hot. Williams as Adrian Cronauer "What, you born on the sun?" hot. I was soaked inside of 3 minutes.

Megan took a perch on the handrail ledge, just outside the reach of the only notable light source - the stage. 30 feet closer than in the place down the pothole with a street in it.

The Time Version and Horror sets befeasted upon her eyes brings the query: At what point does the number of fat guys without shirts become `too much'?

After 5 minutes, that stench was unbearable. The tre chic porch attached offered no relief. More people sat outside than in. The swine. Nerve enough to show up only to purposely ensure that you will not see the show - but not leave - is nerve with which I disagree, no matter how much I admire the set that such an insulting act requires. Big - and shiny, I'll wager.

Megan said it was better than she expected, again. But behind that was still old Kris Kringle, just as the stage lost it's orange hue. One more experience off her list.

5:09 in the morning Saturday. No test now. Time to earn my paycheck. Let's see if Family Guy is on again.


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